Technology helps Ipswich firm reopen safely after pandemic closure
10 June 2020
Ipswich carpet and flooring company Donnelly Watson is using technology to re-open its business safely.
The company has been fitting floors and carpets for over 30 years, and this is the first time something has affected business the way the pandemic has. Owners, Scott Watson and Daniel Donnelly saw an opportunity in this uncertain period to still allow customers to have their homes fitted with new flooring, in a safe way.
The new appointment system allows customers to book one-to-one appointments in the showroom, located on Foxhall Road, Ipswich, or have one member of staff visit their home, in line with social distancing guidelines.
In order to manage the new process effectively, Donnelly Watson has created a new booking system which is integrated into their website, which allows customers to book specific times and dates within normal working hours to visit the showroom or organise a measure-up visit from the Donnelly Watson team. This allows the business to remain open in their normal hours, and helps customers to feel safe knowing they are not entering a crowded space and also minimises risk to staff.
Scott Watson said: “The booking system idea came about from us trying to work out how we can still help people who need us, without risking our team and our customer’s welfare in the process. We’ve had to do the same as many other businesses – use the furlough scheme, pause all active jobs until it is deemed safe and we were unable to have people into the showroom for a long time, which not only harmed business but also didn’t do much for the team’s morale, who are used to going out every day and meeting all our lovely customers.
“We’ve tested the system with a few consultations and it has worked incredibly well. In fact, it’s so far been more efficient than the way we used to do things – the people coming to us know they want our help and we’re able to prepare better for their wants and needs – making the whole experience very convenient and efficient for both parties! It’s been a great silver lining to what otherwise could have been disastrous for us and many other businesses like ours. We do hope it inspires other businesses to consider the same.”
The Donnelly Watson team hope to inspire other businesses to follow suit and introduce booking systems to allow them to re-open their doors with much lower risk.
Scott continued: “If you rely on your physical shop, review how the layout of your store works and the typical customer journey throughout. How can you make it easier for people to browse and consult with your team safely? At Donnelly Watson, our showroom can look small on the surface, but by restructuring how key areas are laid out, we’ve been able to safely leave a 2 metre distance between the customer and our team member at any given point.
“It’s also key to realise the importance of your online presence. If you don’t already have an online presence, consider how you can introduce that to your customers. How about spending time looking at building up a social following via a free to set up business profile, or even speaking to local agencies about building a website. As soon as we began preparing to close our showroom and pausing work, we knew how important it was to continue keeping our website up to date and stay visible to our customers online.”