- Application advice, experiences and questions were important discussion points as members shared their effort to secure funding under the CARES Act Payroll Protection Program. Most DLN members have applied and are waiting for funding.
- Having a long term strong banking relationship has served some members well as these personal relationships helped ease the stress of applying for the PPP. Some members have strong relationships with large banks, but others advocated picking a small bank to ensure higher service levels. Overall, the community believes it a good idea to have a strong connection you know will be there when its needed.
- Members shared their approach to maintaining cash reserves and to planning cash flow scenarios that attempt to project the firm’s revenue over the next several quarters based on which projects will proceed. This type of forecast dictates what actions are needed to be taken on expenses. One member suggested its important to be “ruthless” in making decisions in order to ensure the doors will remain open. Other comments includes, “the ship has to stay afloat,” and “survival is success at a time like this.”
- There was a lot of discussion about the reliability of vendors during this time with some members saying they are combing through open purchase orders to identify items that could be at risk to delay or even to the financial stability of their maker. Design firms are experiencing this at a higher level as their clients are questioning the safety deposits made to vendors.
- Some designers are suggesting to shift to stock items and to have them shipped immediately to avoid potential future disruptions in production.
- There is not a solid consensus as to what kinds of vendors and product categories might be at the greatest risk. Local or global makers, small or large, fabric or other categories. We are still without a clear picture and solid information—doing your homework is prudent. Many workrooms are closed due to local restrictions.
Communication and Workflow:
- Participants expressed concern about how to communicate with clients during a crisis and how to stay relevant when everyone is distracted. Setting the right tone in an authentic and personal way was a hot topic.
- Many firms are adopting a habit of daily video calls with the whole team and then by project to try to keep employees focused and work proceeding.
- Some members indicated its helpful to focus on the office workflow and being more organized.
- There were a lot of discussions on the topic of mental health – both personally and relating to employees.
- Many members are doing things they don’t normally do, like journaling, gardening, watercoloring, ironing, yoga, walking and meditating.
- Other discussions focused on the fear of the unknown and how to deal with loneliness. Many members are turning to Apps (from the Apple Store), such as: Calm, Soul Sync, Breathing Room and Headspace.
- Members are also volunteering and helping others remotely as well as sharing and connecting with peers via Zoom.
What the Future May Hold:
- Many participants remarked on how working remotely and using digital tools will continue and they are finding ways to connect with their own team, clients, and vendors alike for video calls and presentations. Most agree that some of this will continue, including adding the potential to take on more projects that are not local in the future.
- Firms are working on models for remote presentations include shipping packages of samples to clients, using PowerPoint and other tools to organize screen sharing presentations, and video calling.
- Everyone sees big opportunities in home offices of the future, including the potential for multiple home offices and workspaces in client homes.
- Participants are starting to think about what it will look like to return to the office including what will be the safe practices required for everyone to feel safe being in person.