This Covid19 pandemic will go down in history for all of us. Never has anyone faced a case of such natural emergency that would affect the entire world at just one time. The economy is shaken with businesses suffering huge losses.
While we have been sadly reading the repercussions of this lockdown and economic slowdown on every industry, here's a take on how the interior design industry has slowed down and the challenges they face!
Pankaj Poddar, the co-founder of Hipcouch, interior design company at Kamla Mills, Mumbai, shares, "Given that this entire industry primarily relies on work being done on the sites (residential/commercial), our entire logistics and operations have come to a grinding halt. There is no material or labor movement which translates into zero progress in terms of any kind of work on sites."
Started in the year mid-2016, Pankaj Poddar further shares his views on certain imperative questions around how the slowdown has affected them, challenges faced and the plan of action for the future, etc as hereunder:
Q) What are the difficulties being faced by clients given all the projects are currently stalled
Pankaj says: Most of our clients, whether residential or commercial, have a current rent agreement for their respective spaces and usually have a tight deadline in terms of getting the work done so they can move to their new spaces in a timely manner. Given the nature of disruption currently, there is complete uncertainty on these deadlines. We have clients who are renegotiating current leases. There are clients who, again given the nature of economic uncertainty as well, have opted to postpone the work indefinitely. For one of our commercial clients, whose business was primarily reliant on people from overseas visiting and spending extended periods of time at their property, their business has hit the proverbial full stop and they have also decided to postpone this work indefinitely.
Q) Plan of action for the future and how to survive? What are the challenges you are likely to face then?
Pankaj shares: We are trying to conserve capital, as much as possible. To ensure survival, we (co-founders Pankaj Poddar and Parikshat Hemrajani) as founders gave up our salaries and had to also institute pay cuts for the team. Our budgets on all fronts have been pared down and we will be monitoring these on a regular basis. Also, we foresee a lag in our industry where it might take additional time for us to resume work on all fronts even after the work/travel restrictions get lifted. There is a lot of migrant labor employed in this space and it might be a while before they return from their native places.
Q) Your thoughts on - layoffs, cutting down operational costs, hiring and firing, messaging your clients, team mates, plan b in terms of importing raw materials and furniture for homes, incase anything was expected from out of the country?
Pankaj says: Our team really has shown incredible solidarity during these tough times. Even after instituting salary reductions, we had quite a few members of the team who came forward and offered their entire salaries so that others who have a bigger need can avail the extra help. We are also taking this time to encourage people to take online courses and learn, not only pertaining to our work but subjects/classes that they are deeply interested in but do not get time during our normal lives. We are also hosting sessions from the industry experts on a diverse set of topics including mental health. Our clients also understand the constraints of the environment and have shown support in terms of understanding. We are also working with all our vendors and consultants and evaluating each front on a case by case basis.
Profitability, or path to it, will become the central mantra for all startups, small or large.