How does a business owner know how to navigate when sales are negatively impacted by a pandemic? What are you doing to combat those impacts? I sat on a Zoom call with Jeff Lovejoy and discussed BT360’s plans to push through these challenging times. Jeff is one of Atlanta’s leading business coaches. He teaches business owners how to run the kind of business they want and deserve, even during challenging times. A link to the video can be found at the end.
JL: Tim, let’s get started. Tell me about your business.
TM: Cassie and I began BT 360 Furniture Solutions in 2012 selling new and repurposed business furniture. Since then we’ve grown the business by expanding into space planning, design, and decommission of furniture. We primarily focus our efforts on businesses located in the Southeast, though we do have some national accounts. We’re headquartered in metro Atlanta. Prior to the pandemic arriving BT 360 employed 35 installers and 5 administrative people.
We’ll take-on furniture for owners and will sell through consignment arrangements without moving the furniture. If the furniture doesn’t sell after a period of time the owner will be charged for BT 360 to move it.
JL: Tim, who are your best customers?
TM: Our best customers are those businesses looking for mid-line office furniture for lower prices. We’re able to offer new office furniture at 20% lower prices than our competitors, and our almost like-new decommissioned products at 50% below market prices. We can, and do service national accounts, but the majority of our customers are located in the Southeast.
Our ideal customer is looking for a company that’s looking for help in designing and planning either refurnishing their office space or is looking at moving office locations. We’ll help them:
- think through the issues
- plan the move or furniture swap
- return the office space to original condition (most landlords want the space as it was when our customers moved in)
- figure out what to do with the current furniture (we’ll decommission it if that’s what they want)
- decide what’s the best option for them either new or decommissioned, and
- move their office, if needed
JL: What has been the biggest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
TM: As you can imagine, our industry is down anywhere from 60 – 70% from a year ago. As it became clear that people would be working remotely rather than from a centralized office, most businesses canceled or suspended orders.
JL: Tim, what are a couple of actions you’ve taken to address the COVID-19 impacts?
TM: Because of the significance of the impact we’ve:
- doubled our digital marketing budget
- committed to making 100 outbound phone calls a day (split amongst myself and 2 people)
- looked for companies that are thriving and focused on that industry…real estate companies are one such example
- mailed anywhere from 500 – 1,000 postcards or letters each month
- began knocking on doors of businesses
It’s been hard on many in our industry…we’ve seen some competitors close their doors.
JL: Tim, you’re to be congratulated for making more noise through your expanded marketing efforts when revenue is down significantly. Most companies cut their sales and marketing budgets when times get tough, and therefore drop off their prospective customers’ radar screens. When better times return their prospective clients go with those who were “noisy” during the downturn.
Tim, It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What mistakes have you made that others can learn from?
we recognize any win, regardless of how big or small, as a WIN.
TM: A couple of recommendations come to mind. First, Herb Kelleher, founder and late CEO of Southwest Airlines, always preached putting money aside for the inevitable “rainy day” that will surely come. We’ve been doing that, being very prudent with how we spent our money…that rainy day fund is helping us these days. Secondly, we recognize any win, regardless of how big or small, as a WIN. Thirdly, we’ve done a deep dive into what we do well and not so well. We’re focusing attention on getting better at what we do well.
JL: Thanks Tim for sharing that insight. I love those lessons learned and believe that all business owners can benefit from listening to that advice. What is most inspiring to you today?
PM: I’m inspired by those people who see the positives through all the negativity around us. My strong faith has been a huge help. My wife and I are using this period to re-evaluate what’s important to us and to strike a better work/life balance. Lastly, we’re doing whatever we can to help those people who aren’t as fortunate as we are.
JL: Tim, thanks. You’re an inspiring person who focuses on looking for the good in our world these days despite the challenges that you and your team are working through.
Reach out to Tim McCormack when you’re in need of office furniture and/or are planning to move offices. You can reach Tim at www.BT360solutions.com or at 678.360.8708 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
To watch the full, unedited conversation, click here. Contact us via phone or our contact page if you’d like to discuss ways your company can navigate when sales are negatively impacted during the Coronavirus pandemic. I’d like to thank Jeff for the interview, hopefully, the next can be in-person!