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LIPTON-Table for Four Please?

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Guy worked for a physicians practice which has a large presence in our county. A few hundred employees, half-a-dozen offices all filled to the brim with medical and pharmaceutical inventory.

Which Guy managed for them.

When they stopped seeing patients last month and shut down their operations, slightly in advance of a state order to do so, Guy was let go, along with all but three people who were left to keep the operation afloat.

On Monday, even though they are still closed, they called Guy and asked her if she could come back to work-starting Tuesday! That means that they LITERALLY could not go another day without Guy.

I know how they feel.

Here in the New York area, the news from independent paint dealers continues to be a downer. As I post this on April 22, all paint-selling stores (except those deemed essential-mostly hardware stores who sell paint) remain closed. I spoke to an NYC dealer yesterday who is down about 85% and he told me he felt lucky because others he knows are far worse off than that.

But other parts of the country the news is not as minacious.

I continue to spend much of my time speaking to paint dealers around the United States and Canada. While the news remains mostly blah…’s not ALL bad! So I thought I’d share some of the positives things which paint dealers are sharing with me as I call around.

For starters: PPP money has begun to arrive compliments of Uncle Sam! And from what I am hearing it is doing exactly what it was designed to do: keeping stores opened and keeping people employed! I spoke a single-store dealer who based on the size of his payroll, received $118,000 in a PPP loan/grant. That's two months worth of free payroll (some of which goes to him) AND another $50K for rent and utilities. None of that will be paid back as long as he keeps his staff in-place for two-months. Fifty-thousand dollars RIGHT to the bottom line assures that he will make it through this difficult time.

Based on the size of their payrolls, some dealers have received many times that amount. The program scales up to your size and the dealers who have already gotten the money are reporting benefits beyond just the obvious one of how nice it is to have someone else paying your bills for two-months. Some dealers who have gotten the money find themselves overstaffed for the amount of business they are doing so many have put the “extra” staff onto the task of preparing their stores to reopen to retail customers in a world of social distancing.

Whether you receive $50K or the $10MM maximum payment allowed under the program (and I do know some dealers who have gotten VERY large checks), this PPP assistance WILL help you survive and even flourish in the coming months. And survive is what we all need to do until the economy can be reopened.

Some dealers I know got “locked out” of the PPP program. They applied but the original funding was depleted in just 13 days and so their applications were not funded. But yesterday Congress approved the addition of another $310 BILLION into that fund. The also stipulated that $10Bil of those funds must be set aside to be distributed by smaller banks-to smaller businesses.

THAT’S YOU!!!!!!! Get to a bank, even better-a small community bank-and fill out the application.

I am also hearing from dealers who ARE selling paint in April!

Many of the hardware stores which sell paint continue to see respectable sales volume in paint: But we should define the term “respectable.” Yesterday, a dealer shared with me that they were selling a “respectable” amount of paint and when I asked for more detail he explained that he is expecting his paint sales to be down “only” 25% for April.

And this made him happy?

He felt like most dealers he knew of were being hit harder than that. He had also taken steps to reduce his payroll enough so that while sales are down, he expects to maintain profitability due to his reduced costs. Some of that success is coming from an investment he made in his online and social media efforts. While his residential re-paint business is down a desperate amount, he IS seeing increases in his retail business due to these efforts. Of course, he’s offering touch-free pick-up and delivery.

If you have not made that change to your business yet, you’re late so get to it! When the governments of the states open our stores again, people will STILL seek out retailers who offer easy paint sales that conform to social distancing standards.

Deemed essential by most state governments, it should come as no surprise that hardware stores are doing well now and that includes their paint sales.

They're opened, and paint stores are not.

That will change. Soon.

Dinner tonight is Lipton, “table for four” for the first time. Buck Wheat made it home late last night and has taken her room back from Chris. Chris moved into my office which was also the guest room and I moved into the kitchen!

Musical chairs….at least I’m closer to the peanuts!


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