By Frank Hurtte
River Heights Consulting
Good old Friday the 13th! It was a personal tipping point, the day I came to the realization the Coronavirus thing was going from bad to worse. For an Iowa-based guy, watching the whole thing unfold on TV, I realized things were troubling in New York, Seattle, and a few other cities. But for residents of small-town America, it was difficult to gage whether Coronavirus was media hype or real. Then it turned real. Within minutes every store in the country was stripped of their toilet paper supply, not to mention every kind of canned good. Fortunately, the beer people have a solid supply chain.
Early the next Monday, my phone and email lit up; friends, colleagues, clients and acquaintances all pushing out trying to discover the situation in other parts of the country. We chatted, tried to find something comparable in our lifetime, and we postulated on the future. Despite surviving three hurricanes, a tropical storm in New Orleans (AHTD 2002), a couple of massive floods, and a minor earthquake, I really had nothing to compare the situation against. Nor did any of them. In the end, we promised to keep in touch.
After week one, here’s what we discovered
Distributors are exercising great caution around their people. Nearly all have asked their sellers to work from their home offices. Inside sales teams are either working from home or scattered throughout the facility to maximize social distancing. Shipping and receiving people are still working but under strict orders to wash hands often. Management is bouncing from place to place, pulling their hair, keeping things moving, and wondering what will happen next.
Some of the big companies, like the automotive, have closed operations. Most are restricting visitors except for essential services. Everyone is thinking about safety, sanitation, and remaining virus free.
But some big questions remain
During the first week of the shutdown, invoicing at most distributors remained solid. Despite, or perhaps because of the COVID-19 related closures, some distributors saw solid in-coming orders last week. But what happens next?
Now is the time for networking, and
now is the time for all of us to apply the power of AHTD.
Rather than relying on data from our own territory, let us to band together to broaden our scope and better understand the North American market dynamics. To that end, AHTD will conduct a weekly survey of business conditions and will share that information back to the group.
The surveys will be short and will cover the points important to the AHTD family. I will be working closely with the AHTD team to tailor the questions and will provide color commentary along the way. Everything you provide will be
100 percent confidential and anonymous
in our weekly updates and articles.
If ever there was a time to take a three minute for a survey, it is now.