No one talking about corona virus yet? - Thoughts on slowing down

noelward

Well-known member
I posted this in Editorials, but it seems to fit here too.

I just got off a con call with some clients that sell printing equipment and supplies throughout North America. With a bunch of people in all four U.S. time zones I think we were pushing the edges of the Go To Meeting servers, but we got it all done. But that’s not what this story is about. One of the things we discussed on the call was the opportunity the evolving coronavirus situation presents for print providers, especially those in the labels, packaging and signage space. This comes in a couple of ways.

First, there may be fresh opportunities to print and sell more—especially in packaging—during a slower or weakened economy. A stroll through many retailers, especially grocery stores, shows lots of empty shelves. The goods that go on these shelves will need replacing ASAP, and if you have packaging contracts with the brand owners you may already be getting besieged with orders to print more than you usually do heading into the 2nd quarter of the year. Some of the companies I’ve spoken with said customers were buying more ink, substrates and other supplies to meet the demand they were seeing. I guess its the upside of a downturn, at least for a little while.

Second, and related to the first, is that this may be a good time to buy some capital equipment. Vendors are going to be feeling the pinch and be more open to cutting some deals to move iron they have in stock and help stabilize their production lines. Whether and how you cut deals is up to you, but the opportunity may be there. Directly related to this is the Fed’s cut in interest rates. This may or may not apply to your business, but the terms of loans and lease deals may be a bit more favorable. So if new capital equipment is in the budget for 2020, now may a good time to pull the trigger. Of course, talk with your financial advisor before the ink leaves the pen.

Lead from the front
Some bigger thinking, and my real point today, comes not from that con call but from broader thinking about managing your business in uncertain times. As the relative stability we are all accustomed to morphs into a temporary or new normal, you have to be ready to lead from the front. Someone has to, and whether you occupy an office in the C-Suite or are a worker bee managing a crew of people, there are three important things to do in this uncertain hour.

Communicate
Short moments on the shop floor, in hallways or around coffee machines are where many important interactions take place. These are the conversations that foster trust, create synergy, and build confidence. For example, people worry about being laid off, so to the extent that you can, assure employees that the business will keep adapting adapt its processes and behaviors to keep the ship afloat. Be sure to loop in employees who work offsite so they know how to share work and information as your company faces the present challenges.

Keep goals realistic
These days are anything but business as usual, but you can still succeed. Be honest with your teams about what can and cannot be done in the weeks and months ahead, especially as uncertainty and disruption ripple across the land. Let them know things will be rough, and that not everything will go as planned. Let your teams know that you are revising objectives, targets and timelines, and tell them what you expect from them. This helps keep your crews involved, focused on goals that they understand, and (hopefully) see as achievable. Above all, do not keep people in the dark. This ruins morale and diminishes trust when you can least afford it.

Be brave
Navigating coronavirus is terra incognito for just about everyone. Keep in mind that some employees may have family members infected with the virus or are concerned about a family member becoming ill. This creates a new and unfamiliar level of stress that may change how they act at work. So be the adult in the room. Make sure your managers are, too. Be understanding of their needs for time off and let them know they can talk with you. As a leader, be a rock, be calm, and be steady. I think of a poster I saw with a photo of a full grown male lion and a little lion cub. The caption was, “Be brave. Even when you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.”
 

dgman

Member
This is probably not a "politically correct" thought, but, it is the elephant in the room:

If you have an employee (or, multiple employees) who call in and say that they are symptomatic and must self-quarantine for 2 weeks, how many of you will pay those employees their normal salary for the 2 weeks they are out?

Adversely, I'm wondering how many employees will take advantage of the situation, and, falsely report to get 2 weeks paid away from work.?

It's a slippery slope..........................

Some employers require documented evidence from authorized public health authorities no matter if it's a 'normal' flu or the pandemic one in order to justify paid sick leave or extended sick leave etc.
 
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AP90

Well-known member
So if the US goes into shut down for a month or more, do you think the equipment companies will suspend payments on leases? My guess is Xerox won’t unless it’s mandated by the government. I don’t deal with the other companies so I’m not sure how they’d react
 

Craig

Well-known member
We have laid off 1 so far and reduced hours of everyone else. So far we predict a loss of around $200,000.00 if this keeps up through April as this is the season for school musical programs, orchestra/symphony programs and many newsletters that have all been put on hold or canceled. We are looking at the SBA offerings to see if we can refinance some stuff at a lower rate to save some as well.
 

dgman

Member
Following on the post from Craig above, while we do expect financial losses at many levels, it would be interesting to hear global members' experiences on the pandemic's impact on staff, working hours and acquiring new business/clients.
 
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Slammer

Well-known member
This is probably not a "politically correct" thought, but, it is the elephant in the room:

If you have an employee (or, multiple employees) who call in and say that they are symptomatic and must self-quarantine for 2 weeks, how many of you will pay those employees their normal salary for the 2 weeks they are out?

Adversely, I'm wondering how many employees will take advantage of the situation, and, falsely report to get 2 weeks paid away from work.?

It's a slippery slope..........................
Why would that be a question? If you are sick you are sick, you get a doctors note and the company will send it to the insurance, if you are away for a longer period then your insurance kicks in. If your company is on short work then your company will apply for a short work permit. Why should people suffer from things out of their control? And as for taking advantage, that is why you get forms from the doctors, if you are not sick you don´t get a note.
 

davehultin

Member
This is new territory for all of us, that's for sure. "Social Distancing" is a phrase that's going to stick. Translation: “Shop online and not in person.” This is a defining moment for e-commerce. Now is the time to make sure your website is one of the members of your sales team.

If you’ve already established a strong online presence, then transitioning to the new normal of Social Distancing requires nothing more than reviewing and tweaking what you're already doing online. However, if you're still putting together the pieces of your online sales strategy, then it’s time to dig in and embrace the new normal because it’s going to be a while until everyone is comfortable shaking hands in person again.
 

Slammer

Well-known member
The first cities in Germany are now under curfew, no going out except for work, if you still have it, or shopping or to the doctors and you must have your ID with you otherwise there will be fines and jailtime imposed. Even now all shops that are not food supplierers are closed, Chemists (drugstore) are open along with doctors and offices needed to uphold at least a semblance of normality.
Other than that the country has ground to a halt.
In Italy, not 200 Km´s away from where I am sitting obituarys in the papers have risen from one to one and a half pages to eight pages and on Tursday 500 people died, the entire country is in total lockdown together with Spain and France. EU internal borders are closed and lorry tailbacks are in some places over 50 km´s long, there are no more private border crossings unless you can prove that you need to get home and the skies are empty of aircraft. Driving along the Autobahn reminds me of 1973´s oil embargo and the Sunday curfew.
I very much doubt that we will see martial law because at the moment everybody is feeling like they are doing their part and after Frau Merkel held an announcement on TV for the first time outside of Christmas we all feel like we are in this together.
How long this circling of the waggons will last? Well there is not a bog roll to be had anywhere, that´s just an annoyance but when shortages of food and medicine start to happen, then we will see.
 

kdw75

Well-known member
I am convinced the fallout from the economic impact of business closings and event cancellations will dwarf the impact of this virus or any others in the past century. I suspect that many, many more people have this, but aren't going in and getting tested.

If the officials aren't very careful I fear that civil unrest could be next. You start messing with peoples income and their ability to feed their families and everything will change in a hurry.
 

Slammer

Well-known member
Germany is now under lockdown with the southern states being the most affected.
I think that civil unrest is on every politicians mind but maybe not so much here. Germans tend to do as they are told, there are reports though that drug addicts and alcoholics are starting to get "itchy" that could be a problem.
 

OffsetStorefront

Well-known member
I am convinced the fallout from the economic impact of business closings and event cancellations will dwarf the impact of this virus or any others in the past century. I suspect that many, many more people have this, but aren't going in and getting tested.

If the officials aren't very careful I fear that civil unrest could be next. You start messing with peoples income and their ability to feed their families and everything will change in a hurry.
If everyone does their part, then yes the economic impact will dwarf the virus' impact - that's the whole point of doing this! These actions trade economic impact for positive health impact. Economic impacts are bad, but death is forever.
 

AP90

Well-known member
If everyone does their part, then yes the economic impact will dwarf the virus' impact - that's the whole point of doing this! These actions trade economic impact for positive health impact. Economic impacts are bad, but death is forever.
But, in a lot of cases, severe economic impact will lead to death also. Do you not think that people will face severe depression from loss of their job or company? People with severe depression tend to have sucidal thoughts.

At what point are will willing to ruin people economically for the possibility of keeping people from contracting COVID-19?

The way I see it is we have 2 options. 1) We have to shut down EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. You don't leave your house. Hospitals are the only things open. That way we can eradicate the virus. 2) We resume life as normal because if we continue down the road of half-ass shutdowns and non mandatory quarantine, then we are dragging this out and a lot of people will never recover from the economic impact of it.
 

Joe

Well-known member
But, in a lot of cases, severe economic impact will lead to death also. Do you not think that people will face severe depression from loss of their job or company? People with severe depression tend to have sucidal thoughts.

At what point are will willing to ruin people economically for the possibility of keeping people from contracting COVID-19?

The way I see it is we have 2 options. 1) We have to shut down EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. You don't leave your house. Hospitals are the only things open. That way we can eradicate the virus. 2) We resume life as normal because if we continue down the road of half-ass shutdowns and non mandatory quarantine, then we are dragging this out and a lot of people will never recover from the economic impact of it.
So what do people do when they run out of food? No police protection? No fire protection?
 

OffsetStorefront

Well-known member
But, in a lot of cases, severe economic impact will lead to death also. Do you not think that people will face severe depression from loss of their job or company? People with severe depression tend to have sucidal thoughts.

At what point are will willing to ruin people economically for the possibility of keeping people from contracting COVID-19?

The way I see it is we have 2 options. 1) We have to shut down EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. You don't leave your house. Hospitals are the only things open. That way we can eradicate the virus. 2) We resume life as normal because if we continue down the road of half-ass shutdowns and non mandatory quarantine, then we are dragging this out and a lot of people will never recover from the economic impact of it.
Yes, the economic impact will have severe and sometimes fatal consequences for people. But that is going to be much less than the impact of letting this highly-transmissible virus spread unimpeded among a population. Both are bad options, but one is less bad.

Don't worry, your total shutdown is coming. The more people ignore the less severe restrictions, the more they push authorities to impose more severe restrictions.

And I think you're right that things will never be the same, economic or otherwise. Need to start thinking about what the new normal will be, though - we will be unable to recover fully to what was.
 

AP90

Well-known member
So what do people do when they run out of food? No police protection? No fire protection?
No real need for police as we'll have to be under Martial Law for this to happen. But like I said, if we start making exceptions for those who can stay open, we're going to have a hard time stopping the spread of this virus. How are we supposed to stop the spread of it when we have everyone going to Walmarts and grocery stores on a daily basis? Did you know most states are considering Liquor Stores essential? Boat Mechanics was a new one I saw yesterday. I mean come on, if we wanted to eradicate this we would be going to extremes, but instead were just ruining a few sectors of the economy at a time until we get so far down the rabbit hole there's no coming back out.

As far as groceries goes, do something like military rations and delivery to the households who request it. But Heres the problem, unless the masses stay home, its not going to subside.
 

scotts

Well-known member
The bigger problem, that I don't think people are seeing is not the virus, but the side effects of the virus on the population.

As we have already seen, hospitals are being over run and running out of PPEs. Yes the virus in general, is not that bad in the grand scheme of things, but it's causing medical personnel to have to make choices they shouldn't have to about life and death, if they weren't having to deal with the virus.

And with the other unknowns with the virus, it is causing some fear in the general public. Which we have seen in the stores with certain goods now being out of stock, and on rations now.

And with the uncertainty of things, which many generations have not seen in their lifetime, it has caused panic in quite a bit of the population, but not all. Life has been too easy on all of us, for too long. It's time we need a wake up, and realize, that just maybe, how we are living isn't the best way.

We need to re-focus on "life".
 

Joe

Well-known member
No real need for police as we'll have to be under Martial Law for this to happen. But like I said, if we start making exceptions for those who can stay open, we're going to have a hard time stopping the spread of this virus. How are we supposed to stop the spread of it when we have everyone going to Walmarts and grocery stores on a daily basis? Did you know most states are considering Liquor Stores essential? Boat Mechanics was a new one I saw yesterday. I mean come on, if we wanted to eradicate this we would be going to extremes, but instead were just ruining a few sectors of the economy at a time until we get so far down the rabbit hole there's no coming back out.

As far as groceries goes, do something like military rations and delivery to the households who request it. But Heres the problem, unless the masses stay home, its not going to subside.
You can't have Martial law without either police, military, or National Guard to enforce it. You've shut down everything but hospitals so who is going to be delivering these military rations? What you are suggesting would cause widespread panic, looting and chaos in general.

I do agree the list of "Essential" businesses is a little on the lax side. That should be tightened up. Anyone that loses their jobs, even if just temporary, should be immediately eligible for unemployment benefits too.
 

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