As we roll into Spring of 2020, we are hearing a lot of concern from contractors and other business owners, about the ramifications to their businesses for the foreseeable future. We are no different, so we decided to take some time to think of ways that contractors can prepare for the uncertainty. There won’t be any medical advice contained here (other than wash your hands and look out for your family and friend’s health,) maybe we can think of some things together that will help us all weather the unknowns.
While outbreaks on East and West Coast cities are just ramping up, it is also spreading across middle America and Canada. As we are based in Houston, we are keeping a close eye on our local statistics of infection rates, and listening to what other businesses are doing in the area. Unfortunately most of what we have heard so far is that businesses are “requesting that patrons refrain from stealing toilet paper and hand sanitizer” from restaurants and bars. While it’s almost comical, it does show that there is some panic surrounding the spread, and we need to be aware of how people might react.
You might be worried that people might consider putting off projects on their homes or offices simply to avoid contact with contractors and the unknown. While we expect that this will have an impact on your business for the next few months, it is encouraging to note that most prominent medical institutions consider this virus seasonal, much like the flu. It is currently believed that, similarly, coronavirus does not propagate well in warmer climates, and with Summer right around the corner, that is an encouraging thought.
If you find yourself on a call to estimate someone’s home or office, refrain from shaking hands. It isn’t an easy thing to do in a society where the handshake is such a solid relationship builder, but this can be considered a first line of defense from the spread of coronavirus. You can rest assured that your customer is thinking the same thing, and would probably not want to shake hands. We consider our homes to be a safe place, so putting a customer in a position to have to refuse your handshake may be a sign from you that you are not thinking about their well-being. If a customer calls with an emergency repair or need, limit your face to face contact with them and stay an appropriate distance away while maintaining a respectful tone. You may even consider including some information on your website or in a pamphlet, specifically outlining how your company is working with customers to alleviate some fears.
Hand sanitizer is pretty difficult to get your hands on, but if you do manage to snag some, keep it in your truck and use it. This can be a simple and effective way to ensure that you and your employees maintain a better chance of staying healthy, and it may be good practice to use it in front of customers. For those contractors with multiple people sharing or using a vehicle, daily cleaning with sanitizing wipes is a great idea. Wipe down the interior of vehicles before and after each day of use, and make these wipes available for each employee.
We know it has been a long Winter with little work coming in, and you are ready to hit the ground running now that Spring has arrived. Don’t let the lack of phone calls slow you down. Now is the time to get ready for the deluge of calls that will occur once coronavirus passes. It is likely that it will be necessary to squeeze much more work into a smaller window of opportunity. Educate yourself on how to market your contracting company during this time, and pay attention to the needs of your customers. Some contractors, such as cleaning, will be thriving during this time, and there may not be enough of them to go around. Find out if there is a need in your area. (Note: We read a story this morning about a cleaning company that was charging top dollar to sanitize office spaces every night while the offices were empty.)
We are hearing of companies getting help from local, state and federal agencies who are offering low or no-interest loans and grants for businesses to make ends meet. Check with your local business leaders, chambers of commerce and other resources to find out if there is help in your area, and use it if you need to. In a time like this, you owe it to yourself, your family and employees to take every precaution to protect them.
Stay safe out there!