Key to planning for the ‘new normal’ Nemo and Office Club recently carried out a survey of members to get a feel for how dealers adapted during the pandemic, and to assess how the groups can further evolve their support services.
Out of over 150 respondents 40% of members had less than 10% of staff furloughed, whilst a quarter still had more than 75% of staff on furlough. With nearly half of those uncertain as to when they will bring staff back, the groups have been using regular Zoom calls to facilitate discussion between members and a sharing of thoughts and ideas about when, and how, to integrate staff back into the business.
“We have always been about collaboration” explains Nemo and Office Club MD, Tim Beaumont, “recent months have highlighted the importance of that with dealers benefitting from being able to benchmark where they are at compared to their peers. We have consistently discussed sales and forecasting with members throughout the lockdown; with product mixes changing the survey highlighted that nearly 25% of respondents are now operating at 80% of normal expected trading. Encouragingly two-thirds of the dealers say that Covid-19 specific products make up less than 20% of sales; although 10% are at the other end of the scale with Covid-19 specific lines making up more than 60% of revenue.”
Nemo and Office Club have also been using the time to help dealers improve their online sales, be that adding SEO expertise to existing sites, or building new websites from scratch. With the expected transition to online during the pandemic, 72% of dealers still reported less than 20% of their sales coming via websites suggesting that there is still very much an appetite for buying from people, catalogues and retail outlets.
“The survey has proved an informative exercise to aid our ongoing support for members as the landscape changes,” continues Tim, “interestingly home addresses only counted for a fifth of deliveries in the majority of cases, but the expectation is that home working and deliveries will remain a permanent service, and we are working with dealers and vendors to enable our members to support this trend efficiently, competitively and profitably.
“It is also encouraging to know that services that we have always had in place have been able to assist dealers. For example, we have always offered our dealers access to a debt collection portal to help with bad debt and unpaid bills; although less than a third reported a noticeable increase in unpaid bills, we have been able to help them bring vital cash into their businesses through the portal.”