Written by Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
As a business owner in the home improvement & home services industries, you are consistently faced with important decisions. Typically, those decisions are fueled by profit and loss analysis and revenue data. However, there are more challenging choices we must make while trying to navigate the covid-19 crisis to the best of our abilities. On one extreme side of the scale, you can choose to isolate and wait things out hoping that it will end soon. On the opposite side of the scale, you can throw caution to the wind and go about life like normal. Personally, I believe that finding the right and appropriate middle ground is the prudent decision. I can respect those that have chosen the wait it out option, as that is the best choice in their mind of how to get through this mess. Not so sure I can respect the other side that chooses to throw caution to the wind (what I call the Florida Spring Break mentality), as it clearly places you and those around you in great danger. So, what is the middle ground? How can you continue to operate your business, yet remain safe? Great questions that I will answer based on what I have seen from a growing number of business owners throughout the US.
I recently shared a video blog in which I detailed some of the tools available to home improvement and home services professionals which are allowing companies to not just survive but thrive in the face of adversity. Additionally, with the passing of the covid-19 economic stimulus package, all small business owners have the opportunity to get assistance to make sure payroll and other critical aspects of operations are intact through the SBA Payroll Protection Program & Economic Injury Disaster Loan. The resources to help navigate the uncharted waters we are all facing grow every day. This article will focus on 2 critical aspects of making the best decisions for our companies, clients, team, family & ourselves.
I will start by saying that I am not a legal expert and defer to more knowledgeable people than myself when it comes to defining what an “essential business” is. I understand that in some locations, the local government has created their own definition which may differ from the generally accepted ones I have seen. Bottom line, the majority of home improvement & home service companies are essential businesses. Clearly, there is nothing “essential” about remodeling your kitchen or replacing the windows in your home. However, trades such as pest control, landscaping, roofing, which we would typically not view as “essential” are classified as such. What does that mean? Even in places where there are “shelter in place” orders, companies that offer these services are not restricted. In fact, these services are NEEDED, thus the term “essential”. The Huffington Post put together a helpful list to help define what classifies as and are generally accepted as an essential service. If your business classifies as one of these essential services, then it is a choice to sit on the sidelines. In the video blog I previously referenced, there are still activities that can be done and do not require meeting in client’s homes or breaking any restrictions to shelter in place. Some of the suggestions included virtual meetings (video chat), electronic documents, as well as other tools available to help keep your calendar filled when we get the green light to get back to it. Whether essential by definition or not, there are ways we can all help our businesses succeed during these challenging times.
Protecting your clients, team, family and yourself:
Homeowners and your team are naturally scared. You must do everything possible to address &remove those fears. By doing so, your team can perform at a high level and homeowners can make the decisions they need to about their projects. Are you taking the precautions to keep your team and company safe? Some great ideas that other business owners are already using to aid in this effort include but are not limited to the following (directly from the CDC):
- Hygiene: Stop handshaking – use other noncontact methods of greeting, Clean hands at the door and schedule regular hand washing reminders by email, Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes, Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly, Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
- Be careful with meetings and travel: Use videoconferencing for meetings when possible, When not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces, Consider adjusting or postponing large meetings or gatherings, Assess the risks of business travel Handle food carefully, Limit food sharing.
- Stay home if… : They are feeling sick, They have a sick family member in their home, They have been in direct contact with someone with the virus
These are great starting points that will help keep your team healthy and functioning at a high level. But what about the homeowners? What steps are you taking to ensure their safety? Creating the processes is great, but making sure that your clients KNOW you are doing so is the key. Most of the business owners I have spoke with suggest that they have changes their emails sent to prospective clients to include a list of the steps they take to protect both the homeowner and their employee. Doing this sends loud & clear messages to your client that you care about their comfort and well-being. I have never seen anyone lose business because they demonstrated that they care. Here are some ideas that you can put to work in your effort to protect all parties:
- Require staff to have their temperature checked before being dispatched
- Arrive to homes with protective gear-disposable masks, gloves and shoe covers
- Carry additional gear to offer the homeowner (masks & gloves)
- Available hand sanitizer
- Drop cloths/floor protectants used upon entry to any home
- Maintain distance of 6 feet between people at all times
- Call or text upon arrival to avoid doorbell or knocking
These are just some of the ways other business owners are ensuring the safety of their staff and clients. As I shared, this could be a powerful tool when it comes to marketing your service to those homeowners in the process of determining who to allow into their home. Who do you think they will be more inclined to hire, the company going the extra mile to care and service them, or the one that may do so but does not make the client aware? Set yourself up for success. By taking these steps which may cost a bit more in time, effort and money, you will establish yourself as one of the companies that are taking this crisis head on. You will do much more than just get by until it is over, you will thrive.
Get on the path to success that many business owners are already experiencing amid the covid-19 crisis. Protect your clients, team, family and yourself. But do so while protecting your business you have worked so hard to establish. Make success your reality! Stay safe, successful and healthy!