LuvBuds Covid-19 Journey

Jun, 2020 by Cannabiz Wholesaler

It was mid-March and in dealing with Asia for as long as we have, we noticed that this pandemic could reach our shores.

We contacted our Glove distributors and got over 200,000 masks on order just in case. On March 23rd, the Mayor of our hometown, Denver, Colorado called for a lock down. At first, he was going to allow only Medical Dispensaries to stay open, but with a panic and rush to all dispensaries statewide, he lifted the ban on recreational stores only a few hours later. Several hours later the Colorado list of Essential business documents were released, and it was determined that cannabis businesses were now considered “essential” and those who serviced the industry were also deemed essential.

Our staff was shaken and frightened of this unknown virus that we were told was sure to affect us all and potentially kill us. After our Monday morning meeting, the President of LuvBuds made clear, we were going to stay open and do our best to service and protect these businesses and their customers, Period! The staff reluctantly agreed to keep working. At LuvBuds we changed our internal policies immediately.  All staff was now required to wear gloves at all times, all workstations were moved more than the required 6’ apart.  Each workstation was sprayed with Bleach and whatever household products we could find at least 2 times per day.  All incoming shipments were sprayed because early on, we were unsure if the virus could stay on surfaces and injure us or our customers. We began taking employees’ temperatures every morning and encouraged them to wash their hands every hour.

It was determined early in the process that regardless of what happened and if we were going to stay open, we were committed and determined to assure that all our staff were financially secure and protected.  Brett, the President of LuvBuds started by handing out $100 bills to every employee and $200 to each member of the team that had a family. This money was to be used so that everyone could go to the grocery store and stock up in the event of a catastrophe. The executive team began reviewing the state and federal options immediately to identify how to take care of our staff.

The week of March 22nd, we had a noticeable dip in revenue, and considerations were being made on how we would financially be able to hold up and get to break even if things fell apart, by the next week, sales increased, and they continued to increase through the first week of May. We decided to split the staff and have them work less days with less people on the warehouse floor.  That lasted exactly 2 days, because just then, the number of orders coming in doubled!

Our strategy was to have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) ready for our customers, and to protect our customers by keeping essential products in stock, ready to ship and to continually search and stock products that were hard to find but were desperately needed by our customers to not only stay open, but to assure safety in their facilities.

We got notice that China was beginning to ship again, but only at around 10% of their capacity, then India shut down for 6 full weeks.  Our inventory was good before the breakout as we prepared for the Chinese New Year, but nothing prepared us for the fact that our major glass factories were going to be offline for such a long period of time. With our inventory diminishing at a rapid pace, we began buying out competitors.  We found other companies that were not doing as well as we were and buying them out, some entirely. We pressed alternative distributors whose businesses were severely affected to let us have their gloves, masks, bleach, sanitizer, and other items. This allowed us to stay in stock on Nitrile gloves all of March, April and May. During those months we rationed these items to make sure as many customers got something, knowing that eventually even our distributors shelves would be bare. We bought what we could for the best price we could and worked extremely hard to make sure that we did not gouge any customers, nor were accused of doing so.  Our margin took a hit, but our relationship with our customers did not. We have always had a policy of when our costs go down, our sale prices go down and when they go up, we do our best to maintain as best we can. It was our goal to get to know our customers better and build goodwill during trying times.

Going back to business school, there were no classes on how to handle a situation like this, there were no instructions on what to do in the event of what at times seemed to be the beginning of an apocalypse, but we kept to the strict goals of showing our LUV, and we did the best we could. There were times we outsold our inventory, we included letters explaining how and why this happened, hoping that our customers would understand that our sales were now outpacing our ability to obtain products. We threw in free gifts, usually a mask or sanitizer so our customers understood we do care about them more than simply making money. This strategy works, it always does, caring about things other than pure profits usually works.  We are honored that during this time so many customers turned to us, and our sales grew.  It is because of them we were able to increase our inventory and better serve the community.

We followed a simple mantra throughout this Pandemic which consisted of taking care of our employees, taking care of our customers, and finally not taking advantage of the situation for short term profit and showing everyone as much LUV as we could!

Shawn Hermanson
Chief Marketing Officer

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