Cleaning supplies & toilet paper
As you are well aware it is difficult to purchase toilet paper, antibacterial handwash, or N95 masks. Once the risk was brought to even a small amount of the country’s population there was a rapid rush of panic buying. Selfish people went out and purchases 6+ month’s worth of toilet paper, cleaning products, and handwash. There is in fact a person so nasty and opportunistic they purchased over 18,000 bottles of antibacterial hand sanitiser – emptying various small little towns’ entire supply and then reselling these bottles at $38 per bottle!
Once Kingdom Houses was made aware of the risk of supplies running out we immediately rushed out to restock supplies. Our usual cycle is a top up cycle once a month; that is we look at what we have in the garage and then we attend the wholesaler to buy only the additional products we need for the next 30 day period.
The instruction was to purchase two months of stock, and deliver only one month worth to the properties. The strategy was to get tenants to ration the supplies so that one month’s worth can be stretched over six weeks – allowing two months to cover a full three month period. Then we would restock every month and thus have constant buffer of 1 month in storage.
It’s a reasonable approach which meant Kingdom Houses would only be buying one additional month and therefore not create a massive shortage for others.
The information we had
The knowlege at the time (9th of March) was that there were no cases in London, and that the situation was contained. We dispatched our team on the 10th of March to do the supply run which is earlier than one month from the previous run. A contact within the wholesaler we used informed us that there is stock but the price is now at a 20% premium – acceptable and understandable (that’s capitalism I guess).
Within less than 24 hours from the 9th of March until the 10th of March things developed heavily. By the time we arrived at the wholesalers the next day private individuals, various off licenses, convenience stores, and other opportunistic buyers already bought almost all the stock available. We purchased what we could on all fronts and spent the next 3 working days only driving form wholesaler to wholesaler – registering accounts and buying what we could.
The biggest hurdle
Some places that did have stock put restrictions on per person. They wouldn’t allow us to buy supplies for 400 people, they expected each person of the 400 to come individually and pick up their share, pay individually, and register an account individually. We tried CostCo, Bookers, all the large super markets, and various other small retailers.
The next hurdle
We placed over four online orders for toilet paper (the major item that was short) and cleaning products. All of these orders were cancelled by the suppliers, it seems the websites either did not keep track of their stock properly and they should never have honoured the order or and probably more likely they realised they could cancel. Raise the price. Re-list. Sell in smaller quantities with massive markups.
The new position
London is likley to be in total lockdown soon except for shopping for private needs. We will continue to monitor the situation and if we can talk with the right person we may be able to arrange a big bulk delivery to one of our garages. From there a team member can split it up into packages and deliver it to each house – this would be the dream.
Until such a time we are moving to a 2IC system. In each property we are assiging a person to our responsible point of contact, and this person will be given a budget for supplies (and encouraged to spend as litte of it as possible because things may get worse and we should put some aside for tomorrow). That person will then buy what the house needs when they go buy their local food, or when they order from Tesco/Ocado. This is good because merging it with those food deliveries is one less journey for someone to make (whether a tenant to the shop or a delivery drive to the house).
It’s a courtesy service
At this time I’d like to remind all tenants that the cleaning supplies (as well as the actual weekly cleaning) is a courtesy service. It is not part of the contactual obligation of Kigndom Houses and it’s something we do because we want to build a good brand, with a good reputation. Right now the priority in looking after our tenants truimps all other goals and objectives, and furthermore the best way to now build a brand is to deal with all customers in a compasionate manner; to be understanding of the situation; and to assist as and where we can. Our number one priority is the comfort and health of our tenants.
I would like to thank each and every tenant that has stayed calm, and been supportive. Those that are understanding othe unique situation we are all in, something not seen since WWII. There are pubs and casinos that are closing their doors for lockdown, the one pub in Ireland hasn’t ever been closed – they didn’t even have a lock on the door! These are truly unique times and we need to all pull together and help each other out.