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  • Mark Lipton

Who's Keeping Track of the Time?





Buck Wheat called me today at 3:09. I noticed the time because when your phone rings at 3:09 AM when you are sound asleep.....you check the time before you answer. You need that information early in the conversation or you can't say "Buck, it's 3-freaking-O-Nine!"


She knew the time it turns out.

When you’re on the phone with Buck, it’s not always easy to understand exactly what the conversation is about.

At 3:09 AM….that problem is exasperated!

I think most of you reading this who are parents would worry when they see an incoming call from their kid at 3:09 AM. If you want to borrow Buck for a few weeks she can fix that problem for you!

With the quarantine extending into its second month for the Lipton’s, time doesn’t have the same meaning as it used to anyway. I find myself constantly fighting my body and brains desire to sleep during the day and work at night. A dealer texted me last week and asked “Can I call you tomorrow at 9:30 and ask you a question?”

I had to set an alarm!

I continue to spend my days speaking with dealers about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on their businesses. Their stories continue to concern me as I am sure they concern you.

I don’t think it makes me a polemicist to say that long-term, this outbreak and the economic fallout it brings WILL significantly change the landscape in this industry and channel.

Not might; will!

But none of us will reach the “long-term” without surviving the short: a task which will not be child’s play! And an outcome that is not assured.

The economic effects of this outbreak are so significant that they will affect EVERY business in our channel over the coming years: dealers and vendors alike. Even the strongest dealers among us will be affected. Dealers who a month ago were enjoying a resurgent US economy and the affections of the growing millennial demographic will now have both; less to invest in their own success AND fewer good opportunities to make those investments.

Those dealers will be among the uncounted victims of this event. They will survive but their great engines of growth will go still as they make cuts to resize their companies to the new reality.

But within that bad news there is always the good. While a significant percentage of independent retailers have been or are being critically wounded by this event, it has not affected all negatively. In the coming weeks I want to start discussing some dealers who are finding creative ways to differentiate themselves in an irrational market. By doing so, they help themselves survive these difficult times and also give themselves the best chance to grow in the aftermath!

But for the time being I want to continue to focus on the issues associated with the current economic situation. Many dealers remain closed while in other regions of the country dealers are learning that they’re not as essential as they had thought (or hoped) they were and will be closing soon.

As dealers continue to be tossed around by this violent storm, do not spend your time lamenting or trying to control that which you cannot control. Whether your city, county or state shuts down your stores is out of your control but your level of preparation for that event if it were to happen IS in your control; keep your focus on that.

On Thursday, I am going to release a podcast with Chris Kosmala from HERO Industries. Chris and I speak about how to ready your automatic dispensers to be inactive for a prolonged period of time. I hope you don’t need that information; but hope is not a strategy!

There’s something else you can do: Apply for federal loan and grant money! I asked 20 dealers last week if they had applied for any federal programs and 15+ of them said they either had or were about to.

That’s outstanding news. In a crisis like this, every asset is a lifeline and the US governments is offering a big one to just about anyone who asks!

If you have not applied for the loans and grants that the government is offering you NEED to, and you can do that here for the PPP loan and grant and here for the EIDL loan! If you don’t know which one is best for you or if you should apply for both, listen to my last podcast episode with Gary Pittsford. He walks you through it all.

I know a lot of my readers are reps and employees of the various paint companies. If you have relationships with any dealers, forward them this blog! It’s crucial that they apply for this money. A long-term recovery plan is useless unless they survive the short-term and this money WILL help them do that! If you can’t convince them to take the money, then give them my cell number and have them call me! I’ll talk to them about why they should apply.

Just not at 3 AM please! I like to leave that time free in case Buck wants to chat!




©2019 by Mark Lipton

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