Business is booming at Schmidt Kitchens And Interior Solutions in Norwich – despite the pandemic and a series of lockdowns.
A little less booming than it might have been without all that, concedes Scott Hardy, but the change in circumstances forced upon the business he owns has had unexpected benefits.
“We’ve learned some things from this that might be useful after the pandemic,” he says, “particularly for future customers who might not be able to come into our showroom.
“We’ve been able to talk to our existing customers face-to-face via Zoom or Teams, give them virtual tours of our showroom, and show them our designs by sharing our software.”
That facility, which he’d never considered using before, means Scott and his colleagues have been able to carry on improving the kitchens and interiors of East Anglia despite not being allowed to let customers into the distinctive showroom in The Lastings.
“It’s not quite business as usual,” he says. “It’s a different type of business, but we’ve been able to continue engaging customers and keeping them on board.
“We can still do home visits and measurings and show them physical samples, so customers still get the Schmidt experience – or as much of it as they can without visiting our showroom.
“We’re pretty much taking Schmidt to them!”
That approach is evidently working, as Schmidt is getting plenty of leads and a healthy pipeline of new business.
“We’re still getting people contacting us to begin the design process, and the customers we’re dealing with remotely love what we do.
“Our business is about 75% of what it would have been if we hadn’t had a pandemic and all those lockdowns. We look at our pool of customers and can only see positives.”
Scott, a Director of the Norwich business, is full of praise for the Government help on offer during the pandemic, including furloughs, grants and business rates holidays.
And despite taking on the dealership in May 2019 when no-one in the world had a clue about the impending pandemic, Scott is full of enthusiasm for the future and has no regrets at all.
“We have a great product, the showrooms are fantastic, and we opened in Norwich because there was nothing like it around.
“We’ve actually over-achieved compared with what I would have expected, and as soon as we’re allowed to open up our showroom again, there will be a massive rush and it wouldn’t surprise me if our business exceeds our targets despite the pandemic.”