Back in March, as the coronavirus pandemic began to take off in the U.S. and events were cancelling while many businesses scrambled to shift to a remote workforce, we were in the midst of putting together our April issue.
I remember a conversation I had with our publisher and the rest of the staff, where we discussed whether or not we should address the changing landscape. On the one hand, being a monthly publication, we have to tread carefully when covering anything hyper-topical for fear it would be passé or outdated once we were printed.
On the other hand, we agreed COVID-19 was a world health issue and as such it would be prudent for us to cover this important topic. With issue content planned out well in advance, we rarely have to make major adjustments at the last minute.
We felt it was necessary in this case because helping you navigate the uncertain business climate during this time was the right thing to do, not only for the sake of your business, but for the safety of your employees and customers.
Our cover story that month was written by Chris Hunter, then-president of Hunter Super Techs in Ardmore, Okla.; and it dealt with how to lead during a crisis. I also wrote on this very page on the importance of communication during a pandemic.
That seems like ages ago. At the time, I don’t think anyone thought we’d still be talking about how to do business in the midst of a pandemic in July. Yet, here we are.
In the past few months, I’ve spoken to dozens of contractors from different parts of the country. While doing business today certainly has its challenges, we’re lucky to be in an industry that has not only been deemed “essential,” but one which is also in high demand.
One morning last week, I had to run a quick errand and while out for a seemingly short amount of time, I saw no less than six Stack Heating, Cooling & Electric vans on the road.
I mentioned this to Brian Stack during one of our conversations for this month’s Special Report on Business Software and he said, “Ever since that heat wave Memorial Day weekend, we have been slammed … almost like COVID-19 doesn’t exist anymore. Everyone wants their AC!”
This is great news for Stack, who told me just three long months ago at the start of the pandemic that he had to lay off employees due to the lack of work. Unfortunately, COVID-19 does still exist and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
I’ve heard similar stories from many contractors I’ve spoken with and, while the demand for their services continues to grow, sadly, so too does the spread of coronavirus.
What we all thought — hoped — would be gone by the start of summer when states began to ease restrictions has, in fact, become more resurgent in many parts of the country (and the world).
Back in March and April, customers were cancelling maintenance appointments for fear of letting someone from the outside into their homes. Many of you responded by bolstering your communication efforts to ensure your customer base that you are taking proper precautions to protect their safety.
Now, as temperatures continue to soar — and with many of your customers still working from home — calls for AC will only keep growing and it’s more important than ever for you to take proper safety precautions.
Don’t be fooled by the high demand for your service, customers still want to do business with a company they can trust. Communicate openly with your customers about how you’re ensuring not only their safety, but the safety of your employees and your community.
Are you taking employee temperatures at the start of each shift? Are you cleaning trucks and equipment every day? Are your technicians required to wear masks, gloves and shoe coverings?
Make sure your customers and prospects know that! Put their minds at ease before they even pick up the phone to call you. This is a service industry, but if the safety of your employees and customers isn’t a priority, you’re not doing a service to anyone.