Recently, Kevin Jacobs, General Manager of the DeWitt, Iowa, Spahn & Rose store, was walking through his neighborhood and saw two neighbors sitting in their driveways in lawn chairs—best friends who were socially distant, yet talking and enjoying each other’s company.

“That made me think about our relationship with our customers,” Jacobs says. “Our sales staff and drivers have known some of our customers for many years. A big part of our relationship is the chatting. We might not be able to pull up a lawn chair and chat, but for right now, we’re there for them, just a call away.”

Although the Spahn & Rose sales staff can’t see customers in person because of COVID-19 and social-distancing mandates, they’re still busy making sure building materials are delivered and orders are ready for touch-free pickup.

Since mid-March, Spahn & Rose has touch-free pickup and curbside delivery, Spahn & Rose sales staff are working from their home offices, continuing to take and fill orders for their builder and contractor customers.

“We’ve been doing this for four weeks now, and it’s been fairly seamless,” Jacobs says. “The sales team in their homes relies on us back in the yard to get orders ready for pickup or send out deliveries. We’re finding ways to get contractors the building materials they need to do their jobs.”

SR May 2020 Blog Sales Still at Work Tim WinterThe Spahn & Rose sales team have laptops at home linked to the company’s sales system, which allows them to access purchasing, invoicing and other order information. Staffers working from home can, as needed, remotely print paperwork and blueprints at the store.

One small difference: Instead of visiting customers in person to check on deliveries and take new orders, the sales team stays connected more through texts and emails—much more. “Before, a customer might call once a day at the end of the day,” Jacobs says. “Now we stay in constant contact. It’s not unusual to get 15 texts, three calls and some emails from customers. If there are any issues with orders or building materials, we want to take care of it right away.”

Though some remodeling work has been put on hold—certain homeowners don’t necessarily want contractors entering the home they’re currently living in—new homebuilding has continued, according to Jacobs. “The new homebuilders can’t let a house sit partially done for four months,” he says. “Our customers can count on Spahn & Rose, so they’re not only finishing houses but starting new ones. Contractors’ customers have already put money out for the job, and they want the job finished.”

The DeWitt store has also seen an increase in purchases from do-it-yourselfers. “The two guys inside at the counter are constantly on the phone taking orders,” Jacobs says. “People are taking advantage of touch-free pickup. They’re in and out of the yard in five or 10 minutes.”