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Preparing for What Comes Next

By Bob Johnson, i-SIGMA CEO

Last week, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion of four of the smartest people in the secure destruction and RIM services industries about the short- and long-term consequences of the COVID-19 economic shutdown.

Below is a summary of the main takeaways.  Members can watch the recording of this webinar by logging in to the Member Portal and visiting “My Digital Library.”

My thanks to the panelist:

  • Don Adriaansen, MBA, CSDS, TITAN Mobile Shredding, Inc., Doylestown, PA
  • Pat DeVries, CSDS, DeVries Business Services, Inc., Spokane, WA
  • Christopher Jones, Secure Records Solutions, Inc., Thomasville, GA
  • Angie Singer Keating, CISA, CISM, CRISC, CEO, Reclamere, Inc., Tyrone, PA

Key Takeaways

What is to be learned from the initial impact of the COVID-19 shutdown?

Even though all service providers are suffering, those who were already on top of their receivables, controlling their costs, and communicating regularly with their clients are having less difficulty.

The shutdown has been a pretty harsh wakeup call for those were lax in those areas.

Do you think the health and safety measures implemented in response to the outbreak will continue during the recovery and beyond? 

Yes, CDC-recommended practices will be especially important throughout the recovery, and, furthermore, will become an important part of sales and marketing. The panel believed the ability to demonstrated COVID-19 oriented health and safety would be an important marketing distinguisher over the coming 18 months.

The panel was less certain about the long term, with several stating that once things return to normal, perhaps after a vaccine surfaces, the emphasis on health and safety may wane.

The panelists did agreed that, despite whatever health and safety practices continue, there were other changes, such as telecommuting, online sales calls, leaner staffs, and probably fewer competitors, all of which represent both challenges and opportunities for those emerging on the other side.

For those clients that initially discontinued service, what are the options and your recommendations related to reactivating their activity?

Though everyone on the panel had clients who had paused service, most said it was more common for them to reduce or modify service than discontinue all together.

Where service had been totally stopped, they agreed that communication was the key to restarting it, encouraging attendees to reach out proactively, while emphasizing their COVID-19 preparedness as well as the risks to security.

Several of the panelist reported they had been making it a practice to reach out to clients, saying that it was easier to get a hold of them now than in normal times.

Do you have a forecast for how soon this will be over?

When this might be over, according to some panelists, is too difficult to say, largely because of the unknowns. Will cases spike when shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted? Does exposure ensure immunity, and if so, will it be temporary or permanent? Will effective treatments be available before a vaccine?

The panel also agreed that forecasting the timing becomes even cloudier since any recovery will vary by regions of the world and from state-to-state in America.

All that said, the panel was uniformly optimistic that there would be a recovery, and that a profitable future awaits those companies able to weather the storm and adapt to the new market conditions.