COVID 19 HVAC Business Continuity
Mar 19, 2020
COVID 19 HVAC Business Continuity
This is some initial thinking to help HVAC and Plumbing home services companies see it through the uncertainty that COVID 19 has brought to the World.
- Your Line Of Credit - People are worried, the global economy is closing down, debt is likely to skyrocket, and so banks and lenders are nervous, despite the promise of massive government assistance.
Many contractors have reported that their line of credit has been slashed by half or more. Contact your supply house, bank, credit card to investigate this for you and your business. For now, you want to keep as much cash in your business as you can, and if you have been living off recurring credit that may about to be slashed, then you need to know about it quickly and make decisions about how much and what to paydown.
- Get Financial Support - You can go here to find out more about business support loans from your government https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
- Get educated - You need to know the facts about COVID 19 on a daily basis, guidelines on working and cleaning, social distancing and virus transmission.
Your employees will expect you to know, as will your customers. Here are some trusted resources to go to for guidance and information.
World Health Organization
Centers For Disease Control & Prevention
Additionally, research available information from your State & County to stay abreast of how the situation locally is developing.
Housecall Pro have opened a Facebook Group for their members that provides daily updates with everything you need to know relevant to this ongoing situation - well worth joining and listening in as it is a great resource and community to be a part of.
- Protect your cash - Ensure you have enough cash on hand to cover your payroll for as long as possible.
- Protect Your People - These are crazy times. People in general are either dismissive / in denial of this outbreak, or scared out of their skin. Look at the supermarkets to see the reality of this.
In many places, HVAC is being classed as an essential service and so unlike 99% of businesses, you are still able to serve your customers. Your industry has kind of been promoted to First Responder status, and you and your team are risking infection yourselves in order to serve your community. Your services are needed, and you are local heroes.
Right now because of this, you have some big decisions on policy to make…
- Do you continue to serve your community or not?
- If yes - then what policies do you need in place to protect everyone?
- What is your position on enforcing your team to work?
- Mitigating risk - Are you covered for this through your business insurance?
- Will you keep paying them if they choose not to work?
- Will you respond to an emergency call from a household that is in self quarantine?
- Are you business as usual or emergency only?
There are guidelines here to help you prepare your business for COVID 19...
Occupational Safety & Health Administration - Preparing workplaces for COVID 19
Find out from your State & County what the options and consequences are for laying off / reducing hours / forced absence through shelter at home etc.
There does not at present seem to be a central advice point for this - so take the time to seek this information out.
Should you choose to continue to trade - which is recommended - here is a list of things to consider..
- Give them the freedom to choose- without any obligation or fear - to work or not to work. It must be their decision alone.
- They may be fearful now and choose not to want to work, but later decide to come back to work - and vice versa - allow this.
- Engender an environment of personal responsibility and self awareness. This virus kills some people, with no current cure, so if they feel unwell themselves, they must declare it to you. Ensure they know this and are happy to do it.
- Take as much of your business communication as possible online and go virtual - meetings and interviews via Facetime, CSR working from home, use Zoom or Google Hangouts for team meetings and board meetings etc.
- Give them regular updates - your staff are looking to you for reassurance and information about the current situation as it develops - so stay on top of your own education about the spread of COVID 19
- Discuss financial planning advice with them - share with them what you have done personally. Discuss mortgage and rent payments etc.
- Provide them with the recommended protective equipment and advice - gloves, disinfectant for tools, hand sanitiser, boot covers etc.
- Discuss strategies with them about social distancing and how they can manage this with their customers - especially those customers who may still not be bought into this yet.
- Screen all incoming calls for health issues - ask if anyone in the household has had a new cough or high temperature, or has recently visited known infected areas - both in the US and abroad.
- Follow up with every tech after every visit and at the end of every day. Not about sales, but about them!
- In downtimes - if you have any - get them to educate themselves using the websites above. Also invest in training material for them to prepare for the other side of this.
- Remember that people remember. Build loyalty if you can by standing by your team and their families for as long as you can.
- Put out regular updates about your intention to remain trading through this pandemic to serve them.
- Offer reassurance that you are following clinical advice from the World Health Organisation and that you expect them to do the same when your tech is in their home.
- Do this repeatedly over all your channels of communication - social media, radio, email and text blasts, on our way messages etc.
- Advise them over the phone, and again in person, about the new precautions you are putting in place to protect your team and also themselves - and set their expectations for your visit.
- Stay calm and factual and not over salesy. Provide information on IAQ products but do not use fear to sell anything.
- Offer your maintenance agreements and referral cards. Leave a gift if you have one, and do not use fear to sell them things.
- Being memorable for serving and not selling at this time will pay you richly over the long haul. People remember, so you have the opportunity to build loyalty or resentment - so choose to serve over to sell!
- Know your costs down to the dollar, and reduce all unnecessary expenditure.
- Continually and repeatedly broadcast your message out to the public around your intention to serve them through this difficult time - as discussed above.
- Double check your lines of credit and cash flow projections.
- Know your rights and obligations around laying people off, sick pay, forcing people to go home if you suspect they are ill etc. This will come up so you need to know. Get advice from your local state websites on employment.
- Who owes you money? Chase this up as soon as you can.
- Continue to book maintenance visits to existing customers as long as you are allowed to do so - following the guidelines as already discussed. Regular maintenance needed.
- Stay on top of your advertising and promotion spending and monitor the ROI closely.
- Continually review your marketing activity and strategy - is offering a $59 tune up what people are currently looking for right now, and is it worth risking the health of your techs to go and try to upsell on this to people who may be facing financial hardship right now?
- Recruitment - as callous as this sounds, there will be a lot of good people become available over the next few weeks and months - interview over Facetime and start a wait list if you have to.
- Get into your community - support your church, clubs, gyms and local businesses anyway you can. You are looking for social influencers as strategic partners.
- IAQ will be massive over the coming months and years - ensure you capture all new customer contact details effectively - make extensive notes of every call out - follow up email campaigns will be fruitful later on this year.
You, Your Thinking & Your Leadership.
This is a global crisis, which will give you a local opportunity if you see it.
Ensure your actions are true and congruent with your own personal values and beliefs. Any decision you make, ask yourself - will I be happy with this decision in 10 days time, 10 weeks time, 10 months time, and even in 10 years time?
This will pass. Be sure of that. When it does, life will continue and people will remember what you did, so be sure you do the right thing!
Manage your own mental state carefully. Take care of yourself. Taking action quells fear and anxiety.
Join a mastermind. Do that training you bought and never got around to. Invest in yourself. Prepare for the future. Plan for the summer and beyond.
Stay calm and know that this, like all things, will eventually pass.
You are working in an industry that many Americans and Canadians consider essential. They would fix their ac before booking a vacation. You are in many ways a life priority. There is an abundant and eternal demand for your services. You are in a good place.
You are lucky that you have been classed as an essential service, and as such you are able to continue to trade. 99% of businesses have been or will be shut down, but the majority of global governments are supporting the people, so there will be money for you and for your customers.
All will be good. You can do this!
High Growth Coach is not offering medical or legal advice here - only information and suggestions to help guide your thinking around actions you can take to keep your business running and viable during these uncertain times. These are general ideas and suggestions that are worthy of consideration and we leave it to your own judgement as the business owner to act upon anything suggested.