*Originally Published on Commercial Integrator*
USAV Group director Patrick Whipkey outlines some of the ways AV integrator businesses can address needs & concerns during COVID-19 pandemic.
In the last few weeks, all industries have been hit hard with the effects of COVID-19 — especially for the pro AV industry, as events are canceled or postponed and projects are pushed out or canceled, the impacts on AV integrator businesses are significant, whether they are financial, workforce or operational.
USAV Group, a division of the PSA Security Network, is a network of more than 75 integrator companies with partnerships with over 25 manufacturers, distributors and service providers. The network’s strengths are in buying power and group collaboration.
USAV has hosted virtual town hall meetings for the last two weeks where the operating executives of the integrator companies and vendor partners are coming together and sharing insights on how they are leading their organizations throughout this tough time.
It has been a great forum to discuss topics like supply chain, human resources, remote working and even leadership tricks.
Here are five tips to help AV integrator businesses weather the storm, where the common theme so far is communication:
Have Plans in Place
If you already have plans for crises, make sure to review and follow those plans. If you don’t have plans, take the time to sit down with the executive team, and facilitator if needed, to put together a contingency plan.
You should be planning for 30/60/90 days out and have plans for each time period.
Be ready to change plans quickly. Information is moving faster than ever and you have to be ready to change and adapt.
Communicate with Vendors
Inventory needs: If you have a large project pushing out or being expedited, or if your volume on a specific product is increasing or decreasing, let your vendors know and they will work with you.
Credit needs: cash flow is a common issue right now so reach out and discuss credit options.
Shipping logistics: there are different parts of the country with shipping restrictions; be aware and see how your vendors can help.
Staging holds: there are a few vendors that offer staging options as a value add, take advantage of those as it will free up space in your warehouse.
Rely on organizations including NSCA, AVXIA and others that have resources to help you
Help each other during this time of uncertainty regarding employee support, workplace changes, conversations with clients and project support.
Communicate with Employees
Be open with what is going on; discuss what you are doing as an organization to deal with the current situation.
Don’t surprise them with changes. and Explain that as things change rapidly that you are making decisions on the most accurate news available.
Don’t go silent while working remotely using technology. Utilize Zoom, MS Teams, WebEx orwhatever you have in your repertoire. Now is the time to maximize its features and functionality. Daily half-hour team huddles, group chats, status messages, virtual happy hours and morning coffee talks are just a few ways to stay connected with your team.
Don’t overreact, don’t freak out, don’t panic, don’t stop moving forward. Good leaders stay calm under pressure and lead their teams through effective communications.
Be kind, help one another and get creative.
We are in a critical time now for the AV indstury. As the situation continues every week, conversations and plans of action change within companies. Each day we hear more and more integrators companies having the difficult conversations with their employees.
Working together as an industry can help every AV integrator business position themselves to get through this time of uncertainty and unknown.