Back to business: BAR Member
perspectives post lockdown
As firms across the UK acclimatise to the new normal, BAR Members and Affiliates share with R&S how
they’ve been working their way out of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic with safety and quality as their
David Strank, BAR DED and Director, Stranks Removals
R&S: How have you been adjusting to the ‘new normal’?
David Strank: Much better than we expected. On the whole, staff are happy
with the additional precautions. Customers are also relieved to be having their
moves carried out safely while also being able to talk to our staff who are back at
the office and not working remotely with limited knowledge and resources.
R&S: What challenges have you faced in recent weeks?
DS: The main challenges have been working out furlough payments, managing
staff members’ days off, coping with the high volume of quotes and maintaining
vehicles since parts are in short supply.
R&S: How are you ensuring a safe working environment?
DS: We all wear facemasks as much as possible and always carry extras. Our
staff are temperature checked every morning and vehicles are deep cleaned daily.
Customers are the issue, because many of them don’t follow our procedures and
we have to constantly remind them to keep their distance. We find it easier to
discuss procedures with customers over the phone because they tend not to read
what we send them. Until a vaccine is brought out I see no reason to ease safety
measures; we have implemented the vast majority of the BAR’s guidelines and
these should stay in place until then.
R&S: What’s the current situation with staff?
DS: We’ve employed additional staff to cater for the extra work on the books.
Staff seem to work faster now because we let them go home when the job is
finished, rather than them sitting in the warehouse until 5pm when their shift
would normally end. At the time of this interview in early August, the flexible
furlough scheme is working very well as we never have five days’ work every week
for all our staff.
14 Removals & Storage September 2020
R&S: What about your fleet?
DS: I recently purchased two low loader vans for handling jobs that I would have
typically sent a larger truck for. This avoids our drivers having to make nights
out, as the low loaders can easily complete a 400-mile round trip in a day. We
SORNed most of our trucks over lockdown and we still have one laid up; with four
low loaders on the road, we found we just don’t need it.
R&S: How are you getting on with PPE?
DS: We use washable facemasks, sanitiser and washable gloves, as disposable
ones are too small and rip too easily. Facemasks are a bit of a challenge to wear
constantly, but they keep us safe on the job and when we’re not within two metres
of anyone we can pull them under the chin for a breather.
R&S: Have you increased your use of technology?
DS: We carried out video surveys for the lockdown period and all of May. We’re
now back visiting customers in person as this is what they want, although we still
arrange video calls for customers that are shielding or specifically request them.
I’ve got used to going around a house not touching anything and talking louder
to compensate for how masks can muffle your voice. And delivering moves that I
have video surveyed has shown me that the volume can be estimated easily over
video as long as you’re thorough and ask the right questions. This has meant we
now take on work that is moving into our area, which pre-Covid I would have
turned away because it was too far to visit to quote.
R&S: Looking back, do
you think the industry
could have done
anything differently to
DS: As a company, I think we
have done everything to the
best of our ability. But every
company is different: some worked
throughout the lockdown and
others have completely shut down.
One silver lining of this crisis is
that I discovered how immensely
valuable the BAR’s virtual Area
Meetings are as a forum for
sharing views and advice on how
to manage our business through
times of hardship.
For more information, visit www.stranks-removals.co.uk