Olive Oil and Toilet Paper!

Updated: Mar 17



I may have made fun of Guy for the amount of toilet paper and olive oil she bought in preparation of our two-weeks (or more) of home confinement, which we started this morning. Now that the doors of our house are locked to all outsiders and we don’t want to leave to reload our stockpiles, she tells me that I didn’t buy enough of either AND that I’m not allowed to use any of hers!


And this is day ONE! It‘s going to be a long quarantine!


But that’s ok, I’m not in this fight without resources-let’s see what she can do with all that olive oil without my chicken cutlets and bread crumbs!

Hopefully she learns that lesson before I learn a more disturbing one about the toilet paper!


I always felt it was important to laugh at the time you least want to! Like now!


I want to spend my time with you talking about specific plans that will help your business survive what is likely coming our collective ways. But first, since so many of us are in a family business, let’s talk family first.


I’m back in Stamford as you know, and Guy is here too. We have the house loaded up with food, sanitizer and yes.....plenty of toilet paper and olive oil!


We are comfortable and safe and I hope, while Guy prays, that you all are as well.


Guy’s sons are both in their respective apartments in New York. Chris, the younger is a gamer. I’m sure “Butternut” is thinking “I’m going to be lit on Fortnite when this shit is over!”


I believe he may be right!


Michael is a geek who likes his geeking alone! As long as DoorDash and Uber Eats keep rolling, “Gorgie” as Guy calls him, may not even notice a short pandemic!


Buck Wheat is back in Columbus. She’s safely isolated in her apartment planning her next move, but she is really struggling at the moment with how things have played out. A lifetime of good luck has left her surprised how cruel life can be. Ohio-THE state of-has shut down all education in the state and that means in an email, Buck Wheat found out her college education and her time as a Buckeye are completed.

Hard not to be feel her pain.


What a terrible way for her and all her friends to end their four-year journey. Ripped from her forever was the opportunity to walk with pride in honor of her accomplishment or have a final toast with the friends she made this journey with. There will be no hugging it out, no “I’ll miss you” tears. Not last pretty outfit, no last call on her last “Thirsty Thursday.”


It just ended.


We are all about to make sacrifices due to this virus. Buck Wheat made hers early.


But we are all safe and we all hope you all are too during this difficult and historic time.


Ok, time to get to work.


I’ve written about having a disaster plan a number of times over the years. So many times in-fact that I can categorize my readership into two groups: those that have a disaster plan and those that do not.


If you have a plan, this blog is NOT for you!


Trust the work you did previously in developing that plan....make sure it applies to this situation and get to work executing it.


Thanks for stopping by!


For the rest of you I’ve got some good news for you: it’s not too late to get to work on emergency contingencies!


Chances are if you don’t have a plan you are a smaller business; 10 stores or less. That means you are nimble and you can put a plan together in just a few days.


Less, if you’re in a hurry which you now are.


If I still owned my stores, my first step would be to open my checkbook and look at the trailing two-months of my cash disbursements journal-the checkbook register. When assessing your situation in a time of crisis, this is the single most important data point you have.


Sadly, I know!


I had several opportunities to learn that lesson over the course of my career.


First thing you need to know is your burn rate. How much money are you spending each day whether you are opened or not? When you know that amount and combine that information with how much cash you have on-hand your problems will come into focus.


The lower we get that burn rate, the longer you will last during this crisis.


If you feel that your business is in a position of risk due to the events unfolding in the world, and almost all of you should, you need to take some immediate and significant first steps.

Starting with the information you got from studying your checkbook: all services that are not essential should be turned off. Go through your credit cards and look for recurring items. If it is not generating revenue or is not a part of your critical operation it should be put on hold.


Be bold! In a crisis, speed matters! Sure, working fast can cause mistakes. Take the risk because not doing enough could be terminal.


You’re going to need that money.


I’m not talking about your staff (yet). But everything else is fair-game to be cut, turned off or made cheaper. Think big: should I be turning off my marketing campaign? Think small: do we need this light on, this machine on, the store kept so warm?


Yes, some of these decisions will suck to make. I’m very sorry. A crisis is no place for the faint of heart.


I don’t want this to get too long because I have one other thing on my mind. But I’ll be back on Wednesday and we’ll get into the good stuff: staff and vendors. Until then, study your business and understand it like never before.


BURN RATE!


I wanted to leave my last few minutes with you for a personal message.


In the coming weeks, we are all going to have to make some difficult decisions. I don’t think that I am engaging in literary license when I say that this virus may be the biggest social and economic disaster most of us will experience in our lifetimes.


But we are all going to be fine, this is not the end of our lifetimes.


While this historic event will leave a scar, I am confident that we are strong enough to bear those scars.


I know so many of you personally. Most of the people I know through my association with the independent channel; retailers and the employees that work our channel as our staff and vendors, are a pretty smart bunch. They have good hearts, good brains and are hard-working! There will be some changes, there will be some pain. But we will be fine when this all ends.


And it will end.


This channel has survived two world wars, a depression, a Great Recession, 9/11 and countless local and regional tragedies that have tried to take us down.


They all failed to break the independent spirit that binds us all together. I am confident that this crisis find that same failure.







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