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.