The end of the year is the time to reflect on the past 12 months, and plan for the upcoming year. And wow, has 2020 one for the books, that’s for sure.
We started the year strong. In January, we invested in our team by participating in a Brene’ Brown, Dare to Lead leadership training. This 16-hour retreat opened our eyes to our own personal values, vulnerabilities, and how to communicate effectively. These skills have elevated our connection to each other; thus, we can have hard conversations instead of building up walls or resentment.
As spring sprung, so did the COVID19 pandemic. Luckily, we had taken our system into the cloud in January. We were able to pivot very quickly and our office staff began working remotely. Our team connected daily via zoom. We were able to help customers, ship product, as well as meet them at the store for curbside pick-up. There were projects we worked on projects that are easy to put off while dealing with day-to-day operations. We had enough in the pipeline to keep us busy March and April. May was quiet until the Tuesday after Memorial Day. Then, wow! To put it into perspective, we did the same amount of revenue in the first 25 days of May as we did in the last four days of May.
The next few months were a blur, much like the aftermath of 9/11. Why such a demand for flags? I have a few theories. It was the perfect storm. After months of being home, yardwork was complete, a flagpole makes a nice addition to beautiful landscape. The weather was nice, people were outdoors to enjoy a flag or flagpole. It was an election year. Social injustices were prevalent, making custom flags in high demand. Businesses were opening up after months of sitting idle.
On top of the pent up buying, our industry was faced with a flag shortage. Our US flag factories were facing local restrictions, labor shortage, and new social distancing due the pandemic. They could not produce flags fast enough. Luckily, our company had the early foresight of a possible shortage and stocked up. We managed to supply the high demand. This gave us the opportunity to test a few different suppliers, specifically for US made custom flags, and we are able to offer shorter lead time on quantity one custom flags.
Once the post-election dust settled, we took some time to evaluate our 2020 projects. We are excited to be acquiring some new equipment for our service team. We tackled our outdoor space, otherwise known as the “Graveyard”. Basically, the dump before the dump. Are we the only business with a graveyard? We cleared it out and laid new concrete, giving us 1200 extra square footage. We have big plans for this area.
Winding down for the year
This December has been different. We have limited staff in the shop. We rotate working in the shop and remotely. It can be a week or 10 days before seeing a co-worker. We decided not to have a company party. In-person shopping is down, but online orders are up. We miss seeing and helping our shoppers.
As we look ahead to 2021, we have a new employee starting in January, additional staff to prepare and train for our busy spring and summer season. We are filled with hope. Hope to interact with family and friends, to celebrate as a group, to take a proper vacation, to shop in a store without restrictions, to enjoy a sporting event, concert, or festival, and hope to meet friends in a restaurant or brewery.
I cannot express the gratitude I have for the Custom Flag Company team. They are dedicated, loyal, outgoing, trustworthy, and fun. They rolled with the punches this year without complaint. And make work not feel like work. Last, but not least, my heart overflows with appreciation to you, our customers. We thank you from the bottom of our heart. We are proud to be your flag company.