The KBB Centre
The KBB centre is a family run business based in Ipswich, run by brothers Roger and Patrick Peck providing kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms, with over 60 years combined industry knowledge and family links in the kitchen industry in Ipswich going back to the early 1970s.
When the lockdown started in March, there was little choice but to close. All staff were furloughed leaving the directors to undertake essential work. “The first six weeks or so we kept busy. We had our end of year reporting and a stock take to complete. I kept the activity up on our social media platforms as we felt it was important that we kept a market presence even if we could not proactively complete any work”, notes Sarah, Patrick’s wife and Office Manager.
The KBB Centre has not needed to diversify their business but has changed their method of working, communication approach and staffing structure to start May in a strong position. Their proactive approach, and determination to keep working, have allowed them to re-open their impressive showroom on 18th May, with appointments already in the diary.
“We started thinking about how we could re-open and started taking action in April. We worked with another local company, Hudson Signs, to have protective sneeze screens fitted on our desks and planned sanitisation stations and social distancing methods”.
This proactive approach allowed The KBB Centre to share their plans early with potential customers with their social media showing photos of what customers could expect when they re-opened. They decided to still invite customers in by appointment only rather than opt for virtual appointments. “We know that our showroom is a massive asset to us.
Customers want to see and walk around their potential kitchen, bedroom or bathroom and we can allow that to happen safely through sanitisation stations, screens, placement of staff and customer appointments. We planned and implemented changes early so we could share that via social media. By the time we were allowed to re-open in mid-May we had appointments in the diary and were ready to go”.
Work started again on 1 May and the office re-opened. Fittings were completed in new builds: the properties were empty, and work was scheduled to allow two fitters, who live in the same household, to complete the work safely. “Early May we started to contact customers who had already booked fittings which hadn’t happened due to the lockdown. Some of our customers are shielding, and we have reassured them that whenever they are ready and comfortable to have our fitters in their home we will complete the job for them. Others were very keen to have the job completed as soon as possible and we started to book those in with social distancing and safety measures in place”.
“Having such a large showroom, with free parking, has always been a benefit but it is now really coming into its own. We can welcome customers easily meeting social distancing requirements”, says Sarah.
“It’s been a challenging time. Of course, everyone has been anxious and worried. We have a fantastic team and we made sure we stayed in touch regularly. Everyone is keen to get back to work”. The business has been able to slowly unfurlough the team as the activity has increased. There has been a need to restructure. “There is no avoiding that the showroom is going to be quieter with running an appointment system and it is inevitable that a restructure and a different approach to working are needed”.
The company has benefited from the furlough scheme, business rates holiday and the Small Business Grant Funding (SBGF) offered by the Government but are optimistic about the future.
“We wanted to stay in our potential customer’s minds and give them confidence that we would re-open and that coming to see us would be safe and easy. Our telephone lines stayed open throughout and we were there to answer questions and deal with enquiries. By planning the physical changes needed early we have been able to keep customers informed, give them confidence and re-open quickly. We stayed in touch with our team and have restructured to meet the new business approach. Communication and planning have been key”.