In my wildest dreams, most pensive moments, I never envisioned the 2020 scenario that unfolded over these past 11 months. The year started much like any other – with high hopes and carefully laid plans – with optimism and confidence. In late 2019, as 2020 goals were prepared and objectives articulated, there was every reason to expect that Premiere Events would experience its 20th consecutive positive revenue growth year – every reason to believe that Party Time Rentals would continue to flourish.
As February began, storm clouds gathered on the horizon. Throughout the new year’s second month, the clouds darkened, and dire predictions about something called “COVID-19” were made. By March, news of a worldwide pandemic spread, until COVID’s very real threat to our physical and economic health dominated our thoughts – kept us awake at night – made us anxious and afraid.
Then came the deluge. Shut downs. Event bans. Cancellations, postponements and refunds. Unemployment, Furloughs, and Layoffs. For us, PPP was a ray of hope, and EIDL a means of restoring deposits. But the relief was short lived, and the economic challenges intensified. The psychological challenges deepened as well. Working, schooling and worshipping from home, we were adrift . . . our sense of community lost. Our very way of life changed fundamentally, perhaps, we feared, forever.
But what was, was, and what will be, will be. We cannot “cry over [figuratively] spilled milk”. In this 2021 New Year’s message, I’d like to share with you three important and decidedly positive lessons I, our company, and our teams learned from the unfortunate set of COVID circumstances.
First, we can do with much less than we think we need . . . or believe we “should” have. We can economize, tighten our belts and count our pennies. We can forgo the wants and the wows, and get back to basics. When our backs are against the wall and our bank accounts are shrinking fast, we can be frugal and fiscally conservative. Not stingy (we still awarded holiday team bonuses, albeit less impressive than normal and supported our favorite charities, although perhaps less generously), not miserly or tightfisted – but smart in our spending and wise in our use of all our resources, especially our cash. We can adapt, professionally certainly, and personally, when necessary, to a “lower standard of living”.
Second, we re-learned what we’d already known, but perhaps stored in the far reaches of consciousness – hope for the best, but wisely plan (and prepare) for the worst. Cindy Lo tweeted this week regarding Red Velvet’s pandemic experience, and pointed out how a cash reserve built up over the years helped her company cope with COVID’s economic impact. Had our company not done the same, we might not have made it.
Finally, we learned that yes, we truly are, all in this together. That’s a reality from which I, for one, took great comfort. Rick and Angela, two-thirds of the Premiere/ Party Time Executive Team, were rock solid. Their dedication and determination were (and are) invaluable. The “skeleton crew” that provided “essential services” and reported for duty during the shut down were brave and true. Working from home, our SACS (Sales and Customer Service Team) were rock stars. They responded to inquiries, fielded refund requests, provided information, attended webinars, and made meaningful contributions.
Marketing and website team members were diligent and creative, working hard, once the event ban was lifted, promoting micro-events and other event alternatives, reaching out to new markets, devising new strategies. Our DACS Team (Delivery and Customer Service) was diligent in following Clean, Safe and Essential (American Rental Association) protocols and remaining ever vigilant.
Sure, we did “it”, for us, but we did “it” for you, too. For each of you who rely on us to meet your rental needs. We kept our showrooms sanitary, treated our inventory as promised, purchased and provided products to help you better serve your customers. We kept in touch. We supported your efforts. We kept our promises and honored our commitments. Despite occasional drama, a dose of uncertainty and an element of doubt, we soldiered on. We’re grateful to each and all of you for the opportunity to have decidedly demonstrated that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That only the strong survive.
As we look forward to this New Year, we, like many of you, will emerge tougher, leaner and better prepared for what lies ahead. It is our fondest hope and fervent plea that all of our best days lie ahead. New Year’s blessings to you and yours.
Delores, Rick, Angela, Premiere Events and Party Time Rentals.