Running a business in a pandemic


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For those who are running a business, it must have been a very difficult time to deal with the pandemic and it's effects. I'll leave aside political turmoil unfolding which probably isn't helpful either.

For a business operating a trial/approval scheme, this must be especially difficult. Sending out instruments and bows, which people may have when a lockdown was enforced, which people were then unable to return for some months. How do you deal with this, do you have to make extra insurance provisions to cover things? What if someone who had an item out on trial has sadly died, how do you go about reclaiming your property?
I imagine there may have been cases where people used the items for months rather than the usual 2 weeks, and returned them worn or damaged in some way (bows needing re-haired or thumb grips, worn out strings, dirty & scratched instruments etc). Do you just have to suck this up as part of trading?

With any type of financial crisis, how people are affected seems to fall into distinct groups. Wealthy people are mostly unaffected, apart from their investments, and still retain their spending power. For those further down the financial ladder, it gets progressively worse, to the point that people can only afford essentials.
This would seem to mean that for a large portion of professional players, things will have got very tight. For those who play as a hobby, or parents of a musical child, they may not be able to spend anything right now.

It must be the case, that numerous potential deals have fallen through because of this, where previously it seemed to be heading towards a solid sale. I can see that the upper part of the market will survive unscathed, and the upper to mid part is probably fine too. From there I think it must be getting quite grim, and financial constraints, along with the uncertainty of the situation must be having a significant impact to peoples bottom line.
Perhaps those who specialise in restoration are still busy, I can see there will now be a case for players to have repairs done to their existing instruments or bows, rather than upgrading.

For individual makers it must be a worrying time, with instruments on consignment at shops which may be soon closed or going bust, or hanging in their own workshop, which no one wants to visit any more. It seems that for makers the toll will be higher, not having a wide range of stock to cover a slowdown elsewhere. I'm sure there will have been cancelled commissions too.

I'm not asking dealers, shops, or makers to comment on their financial situations, and I guess from country to country, or even state to state it can be a different picture. I just wanted to say as someone on the other side of the business, I am thinking of you, and hope you can get through this.

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This is a massive topic, which has been discussed some on this board already. In my area (Salt Lake City) I know that makers have been hit hard by the drop in business, including myself, but repairers are doing at least OK. 

I've taken a second job in my "previous career field." I'm fortunate I can do that; the paycheck is dearly appreciated, but I sure do miss my bench time. I've had some time to do things I've long neglected, which is helpful in the long-run. 

I'd like to point out that Philip Kass is scheduled to discuss this topic at the virtual VSA convention, on Sunday the 15th, at 10:30am. 

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Mine is a one-person operation at my home.  I have been very fortunate.  Other than a very slow April, my business income has been unaffected by the plague.  It has changed the way I operate, mainly by meeting customers outside instead of bringing them into the shop.  I'm not sure what the winter will bring, as it's getting too cold to do business outside.

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Our model has not changed much. Because of downtown parking prices we have always offered street-side service, and so there was a seamless transition there. The type of high-end sales we do depend very little on walk-ins---there's a lot of phone and personal contact which can still be navigated. The part that isn't happening is adjustments, because players aren't getting final panic touch-ups just before performances, but that's not an income stream anyway (I have a long-standing policy of not charging for adjustments until I start cutting something.) The flow is different, but the business survives.

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From my prospective as a high-end case maker, I can say that many of my retailers are suffering, those who have walk-in shops that is, because they are in many places closed to the public. At the moment we as a company do not have any problems as we work by special order only, and we literally still have orders from 2019 to fulfill. 

That said, I have noticed that we have had a 2-fold increase in direct musician inquiries for our top end production. My guess is that these people are unable, for whatever reason, to obtain our cases from our retailers, so they write to us. It's worthy of note that a good part part of these people is comprised of amateur musicians with discretionary income (and maybe a Strad or two) and not professional musicians, who as we all know are not working at the moment. However the professionals too are ordering, if they really need our services and cannot put off a new purchase any longer.    

The important thing is to maintain the employees safe, meaning that I check them with a temperature scanner every morning and we have very precise protocols in place, including an independent employee task force that I have to listen to, and a medical consultant whose advise I follow.

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33 minutes ago, Dimitri Musafia said:

From my prospective as a high-end case maker, I can say that many of my retailers are suffering, those who have walk-in shops that is, because they are in many places closed to the public. At the moment we as a company do not have any problems as we work by special order only, and we literally still have orders from 2019 to fulfill. 

That said, I have noticed that we have had a 2-fold increase in direct musician inquiries for our top end production. My guess is that these people are unable, for whatever reason, to obtain our cases from our retailers, so they write to us. It's worthy of note that a good part part of these people is comprised of amateur musicians with discretionary income (and maybe a Strad or two) and not professional musicians, who as we all know are not working at the moment. However the professionals too are ordering, if they really need our services and cannot put off a new purchase any longer.    

As we are not really open to the public, except by special appointment, the important thing is to maintain the employees safe, meaning that I check them with a temperature scanner every morning and we have very precise protocols in place, including an independent employee task force that I have to listen to, and a medical consultant whose advise I follow.

 

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