WFCT: Film Shops Share Lessons Learned from COVID-19

June 11th, 2021 by Chris Collier

Industry veterans shared lessons and experiences from the pandemic during Crisis Aftermath: Lessons Learned from COVID. Moderated by Tara Taffera, editorial director of WINDOW FILM Magazine, the seminar featured Adam Feldman, vice president and sales manager of Advanced Film Solutions, Lutz, Fla. and Jeff Franson, president and CEO of Window Film Depot, Atlanta, Ga. Franson said his company was prepared to shift to remote work at the onset of the pandemic.

From left to right, Tara Taffera, editorial director of Window Film Magazine, Jeff Franson, president and CEO of Window Film Depot and Adam Feldman, vice president and sales manager of Advanced Film Solutions.

“We were already in a relatively flexible situation,” Franson said. “We trusted our folks to be able to do their work, whether it was on Sunday night, Monday morning or Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t care—I cared about results, [and] I cared about the work getting done. We have a lot of responsible folks internally and them working from home—it made their quality of life better.”

Advanced Film Solutions benefited from one of COVID-19’s global trends—working from home.

“We had a lot of customers where you had the feeling—for years and years and years—that you were meeting with the wife because the husband was gone or the husband because the wife was gone at work,” Feldman said. “Nothing ever got done. For a year or two years, [we] sat on these orders thinking, ‘I should throw these things out.’ Suddenly, that breadwinner of the family is home and it’s a real problem because they’re being blinded. They’re now experiencing a glare that wasn’t there when they were at work. So that was a whole [new] aspect of business that we didn’t anticipate.”

Today, shops are finding their footing in a post-pandemic world with new dynamics like vaccines.

“We certainly encourage people to make responsible choices themselves,” Franson said. “. . . I think [vaccines] are a wellness and personal healthcare choice. So I don’t want to step into that for any of our employees. But I let them know I’m supportive either way.”

Supply chain issues also presented significant challenges to shops throughout the U.S. and the world during COVID-19.

“It was the first time in 25 years of running a business where that was a real issue for us,” Franson said. “. . . Amazon Prime Delivery was no longer guaranteed. If Amazon Prime can’t get you what you need when they say, there’s a shipping issue, [and] a logistics issue. So for the first time ever, we had some real challenges with FedEx and FedEx Freight®.”

Franson said 9/11, the 2007—2008 financial crisis and COVID-19 have taught him and his company valuable lessons for the future.

“[COVID-19] has really taught me how building resilience for your business really matters,” Franson said. “We were able to confidently get in front of folks early on and say, ‘listen, we’ve been here before’ and walk them through what happened during 9/11 and 2007—2008. And we’ll be here again in 2030—something else is going to happen down the road. . . . There will be something that [happens] almost every five to ten years that’s a major shock to our system. None of us want that, but you’ve got to plan for it.”

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