Albin Wismer, Bluemenlaube
«Foresight, good planning and a team based on solidarity»
Mr Wismer, how did you react to the lockdown?
I anticipated the lockdown. Because in other cantons it was already a reality. That is why I checked with the flower markets in good time to see whether they would remain open and started to reduce stocks as early as Monday. At that time, I granted a 50% discount on all products. From the very beginning, I did without self-service.
How did the customers react?
They could hardly believe their luck and bought what they could. Anyway, on that Monday I had 180 customers in the shop.
How else did you prepare?
I thought about how to communicate the lockdown at the front doors and on the net. I also thought about how I wanted to keep the staff. Actually, I already believed then that deliveries - especially from Fleurop, of course - would continue to be allowed. And I was also very confident that this would lead to many orders. As a precaution, however, I have nevertheless announced short-time working. But if things continue as they are, I will hardly need it.
How have the employees reacted?
Since they saw their jobs hardly threatened and the prescribed measures are being complied with, they remained relaxed and showed solidarity. I have asked the trainee and temporary staff to stay at home for the time being. But for the others I have more than enough work at the moment. In addition, I already hired two employees some time ago for the beginning of April. They have started their work as planned, albeit with a reduced workload.
What kind of orders do you have at the moment?
Fleurop orders, of course, but also orders that come through our own web shop or from customers who call us. Our web shop has always been successful. Now orders have simply increased. And regular customers, of course, prefer to call. Even standing orders from companies that are not closed continue to function as before.
How do your customers react?
They think it's great that we continue to deliver and order more flowers than usual: for family, neighbours, friends and relatives. It's really impressive to see how well flowers are received, even in difficult times.
How do you organize your business?
I have completely closed one business and operate from the other one. This is large enough to ensure that the prescribed distances can be maintained. It also gives me a better overview and makes it easier to work together.
Where do you stock up?
Nothing has really changed. After an interruption of 1-2 weeks, even Italy is now delivering flowers again. As a matter of solidarity, I consider the same partners as before the Corona crisis. But it is clear that more and more flowers are now coming from Switzerland because of the season.
Are you in contact with other business owners?
Even before the pandemic, I was already in regular contact with my professional colleagues. That helps a lot. Nothing has changed in that respect.
What do you think are the biggest challenges?
You simply have to think and plan everything better. It needs a lot of structure now, because everything is a little different and a lot of unexpected things happen. A lot of organization is needed, so you have enough time and energy for this. Employees also need time off to recover. This also needs to be planned for. For example, we have now decided to accept telephone orders only in the morning until 12 noon. But that's how it works well. We really have no problems.
What do you think: what qualities does an entrepreneur need now?
Foresight, financial reserves and a good, supportive team. In addition, one must not bury one's head in the sand ... but this does not only apply now.
What do you hope for in the near future?
That this nightmare will be over as soon as possible and business will return to normal. All those people who are now sitting at home and can't shop feel an enormous need to catch up. All the more so as they are not allowed to go out during this time. That's where you can usually really save money. So, this will be available later.
What about Mother's Day?
I don't think the shops will be closed by then. But if they are, I think we can handle it.
Mr Wismer, thank you for this optimistic interview.
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