The Corona Virus and Your Home Service Business (Amended)

Due to people turning this into a political issue, I have removed any lines that discuss current politicians or political situations from this article, I also added a section to the bottom of the article that helps to deal with the psychological elements of this pandemic.

We live in scary times. The Corona Virus has caused most of our business leads to plummet as people provide self-imposed solitude (AKA self-quarantine). Our technicians are going to houses only to be turned away because the customers are too afraid to let them in.

As usual the media hysteria is in full affect causing even the most stoic people to become afraid. They are telling stories of Italy where people sit in an Emergency Ward gasping for air, air that will never come due to the lack of respirators.  So you’re a business owner, what should you do? How can you weather the storm? How can you deal with the fear, that your customers, and employees most assuredly are feeling right now?

Let us take the time to work on some solutions, and hopefully that will help you make it through this tough time. In the book “Be a Service Ninja,” I explain that good business owners must learn to be resourceful. They must learn to look at the world around them and ask themselves, “How can I use what I have learned elsewhere and apply it to my business?” I still own a HVAC and Plumbing business, so I asked myself that exact question, and this is what I came up with.

My thoughts went to Winston Churchill and the English government and how they dealt with fear. As World War II ramped up and it became apparent that war was inevitable, the government started an ad campaign of sorts. They printed up signs and hung them on every corner in every pub and in every park that simply read “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Just five words, and it empowered the people who were afraid of the upcoming war, and It calmed the ones that had seen the devastation of the first World War. After that it became a rallying cry, and to this day 80 years later we still use that saying on T shirts and posters. The message here, put something in writing for your people so that they can see, and feel that things are going to be alright.

After that with England on the precipice of war, Winston Churchill gave his famous speech. Here it is below

“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old”. -Winston Churchill

A link to a clip from Darkest Hour and Churchill's speech
A link to a clip from Darkest Hour and Churchill’s speech
You may not be some great orator that can give speeches, but you can help your people feel better, and let them know you will fight for them. You can ask them to fight for you, and if they believe in you, they will. Be the leader that your team needs right now and comfort them in their time of fear. You will find doing that, will make them stand behind you even more.

After all the speeches, it is time to plan. There are two ways to face this, you can drastically cut your spending in the next couple of months until the market bounces back, or have your team share some of the load.

Drastically cutting spending means:

1. Cut your marketing budget. If calls aren’t coming in right now out, it doesn’t matter how much money you put into it, they still won’t be coming in.

2. Cutting all non-essential job perks, don’t buy coffee for the coffee pot, or creamer for that matter. Say to yourself “Do we need this to make our company function.” If the answer is no, don’t buy it.

3. Turn the thermostat down,  cut your electric costs, and make it so that you spend less money on heating or cooling your office.

4. Do not buy new equipment or tools right now.

5. If there is not much going on close a little early and live to fight another day. (Remember that if you aren’t bringing money in you can’t put money out for labor. )

Sharing the load, is like ride-sharing or carpooling:

1. Cut some of the hours, have your employees to work 10 hours less a week

2. Double the manpower on jobs. Yes, it raises the labor on that job, but if you cut into the profit a little to make your employees happy they will stick around and it will be worth it in the long run.

3. Regularly inform them of your plans to deal with the slow down in the economy and business, and reassure them that a bounce back is right around the corner.

4. Find out how to take advantage of the benefits that are being released by the federal government, and help your people apply for them.
Here is a link to the department of Labor so that you can see what your responsibilities are during this crisis
Here is a link to the department of Labor so that you can see what your responsibilities are during this crisis

Lastly, you should create some in house policies to help alleviate some of the mental stress of the current climate.

Some of the protocols at Reliability Home Services A Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing Company in Dundalk, Maryland the protocols are:

1. Techs must wear Nitrile gloves while in peoples houses and in public while in their uniform.

2. They will use Fast Orange (which is a Citrus / alcohol based cleaner that removes grease and kills microorganisms) after each service call.

3. All employees must observe restaurant rules, and wash their hands before returning to work, after every bathroom break.

4. All Employees must disinfect their entire work area Tablets, phones, door handles, and desks.

5. If they show any symptoms they should stay speak to their doctor and keep management in the loop.

This was put out in a memo to everyone on staff at the company.

Take the time to talk to your people. If you make these efforts, your people will see it. By seeing your efforts, they will fight for you.

The test of a true leader comes in times of strife, not when things are going according to plan. That’s what made Winston Churchill such a dynamic leader and that is what will make you a dynamic leader. That’s the way a Service Ninja Does it.

Service Ninja