LOS ANGELES, CA / ACCESSSWIRE / May 9, 2020 / The COVID-19 public health crisis is having far-reaching impacts on the US economy. With many nonessential businesses forced to cease physical operations, hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue and millions of jobs have been lost. Over half of small business owners recently surveyed report that they won't be able to last three months under current coronavirus restrictions.
The smallest businesses have been the hardest hit - in particular, those with less than 20 employees. These businesses usually have less cash flow and capital, leading to more immediate effects during a crisis. Businesses relying on in-person services have been affected most severely.
For the real estate market, the depth and duration of COVID-19's effects have yet to be determined. It is not known whether such large shifts towards e-commerce and teleworking will result in permanent changes even after a coronavirus recovery.
In the near-term, the global pandemic is prompting changes in how real estate professionals operate. They are making greater use of virtual technologies to stay operational-especially in the residential real estate sector.
SetSchedule is a digital platform that utilizes the latest technology and a full-service concierge team to review consumer needs and instantly connect real estate shoppers to a single real estate agent or multiple local professionals. We spoke with SetSchedule CEO Roy Dekel to find out how his company has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
What has the COVID-19 crisis meant for your small business?
Being a small business owner is never without challenges, but this is something modern Americans have never seen before. As an Israeli, growing up surrounded by enemies taught me that survival and self-reliance go hand in hand. While I never could have predicted such a catastrophe, my partner and I have worked hard to give SetSchedule a solid foundation that will steel us against difficult times.
We care deeply about all our employees and the future of our business. Like all American businesses and even businesses around the world we have come up with ways to enact immediate remote solutions, strengthen remote technologies, leverage virtual management tools, and created a greater sensitivity and more attention to interpersonal needs, and sanitation guidelines.
As a nation, we don't quite know what lies ahead, and uncertainty can be troubling, but the situation can also bring positives like a greater connection to community and family and for some an opportunity to focus on shifts in your business.
Thankfully, having digital technologies at the core of our business has meant that we were well prepared for some of the shifts taking place today. In fact, the situation brings some real opportunities for SetSchedule to play an even greater role in real estate. I think the real estate market has already headed the direction of virtualization, and COVID-19 has accelerated that transformation.
What is the role of SetSchedule in a COVID-19-affected real estate marketplace?
The real estate business relies on networking and collaboration. In what has traditionally been a face-to-face system, COVID-19 poses a lot of challenges. By helping SetSchedule members connect with each other virtually, we add tremendous value during this time.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, people want to live their lives. They have to sort through good and bad service providers, they change jobs, they move, and life goes on. We've seen that people are still buying houses, and SetSchedule provides the best tech to make sure those deals happen with on-demand access to multiple real estate professionals.
Our digital platform allows for more direct virtual communication among real estate professionals; realtors, property managers, and even lenders and appraisers. We have team collaborations and also offer a virtual open house tool, which is pretty much the only safe way an open house is going to happen right now.
Don't forget that real estate agents are often small business owners themselves. We're providing them a way to continue to operate and to make much-needed sales that keep their business thriving.
Looking down the road, how can SetSchedule help in a post-COVID-19 world?
I think many of us are starting to realize that the return to normal is going to be a slow one. Even then, we're not quite sure what that "normal" will look like. By embracing new technologies and ways of working, I believe we can help shape the future in a positive way.
We want to help real estate professionals work smarter, not harder. That is why SetSchedule has accelerated development to provide additional products to continue to improve our role in servicing consumers and real estate professionals by giving them even more transformative tools. Once our members experience the ease and success of our tools, it's hard to give them up. So, I think we're here to stay.
What are your visions for the future?
Over $1 billion in real estate transactions have been introduced through our platform, so there is clearly a need out there. We have no plans of slowing down. We'll keep learning and innovating even through the pandemic.
In the near-term, we're looking to make some major upgrades to our platform later this year. We're constantly improving our offerings and workflows to best serve our members.
I'm an entrepreneur at heart and never out of ideas. The COVID-19 challenges might even spur some new opportunities for us.
Do you have any suggestions or advice for other small business owners trying to weather the COVID-19 storm?
As entrepreneurs, we can rely heavily on our passion and drive to get us through this crisis. I'd encourage other small business owners to embrace your entrepreneurial spirit during this time. It is important to figure out "how". How am I going to do that? How am I going to slove it? How can I make this work? Be creative in your solutions to figuring out "how", and once you have a plan, never stop. People are still consuming, and businesses can still thrive, so the worse thing you can do is to stop moving forward, even in small steps.
No one would do this if it were easy. Many of us have been through challenges before. Though this one may be bigger, there is always a way forward. The future might look different than we expected, but with that comes opportunity.
Also, if you can, rely on your support system when times are tough. I'm so grateful for my business partner because we're in this together.