As of this morning, at least 6,000 people with coronavirus have died in the United States and more than 245,000 are infected, according to the Johns Hopkins database. Nearly all Americans are under stay-at-home orders.

For current information regarding COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To everyone providing an essential service right now and braving the coronavirus risks, thank you. This includes our farmers, grocery store workers, doctors, nurses, first responders, truck drivers, production workers, technicians, and home service providers. We need you now more than ever.

It’s always important to be available when homeowners are seeking a service provider, but especially during times like these. As shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders are in effect, there is a lot of added stress on plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems.

In this article, we offer advice and resources for responsibly communicating essential home services to your customers.

What Qualifies as an Essential Service?

While “workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC Technicians, landscapers, and other service providers” are on the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list developed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), state and local authorities still have jurisdiction.

The Department of Homeland Security makes it clear that this advisory list “is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard.”

Individual jurisdictions have the final say on whether something is considered an essential service or not. In almost all cases, however, states are using the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines, with some minor changes.

Check with your state and local jurisdiction to find out which services are considered essential. Just because your industry is considered essential doesn’t mean all your services are. Focus on “services that are necessary to maintaining the habitability, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses, and buildings.”

Promote Your Essential Services

If you are open for business and performing essential services, let everybody know. Cleaning companies can advertise anti-viral cleaning services, HVAC companies can focus on indoor air quality and emergency services.

But be extra careful about your messaging. Remember, people everywhere are stressed and on edge. That’s why April Fools was effectively canceled this year. Brands and businesses are reading the room, for the most part.

While it’s important to ensure your messaging is compassionate and fact-based, now is not the time to disappear. Communicate how you can provide solutions to those in need in a compassionate and caring way.

The brand repercussions of prioritizing profits over the pandemic will outlive the virus. Even well intentioned messages may be construed as seizing the opportunity for personal gain. 

Look for New Opportunities

Find out if your services are in high-demand, such as converting buildings into makeshift medical facilities. There could be a lot of new contract work during this time.

Look for ways to donate your time, money, or resources. Any volunteer work is free advertising for your business and the community will remember you for it. If your trucks are sitting idle, consider renting or offering them to local businesses or non-profits. Communicate your philanthropic position to your customers.

Clear and Proactive Communication

Tell your customers how your business is changing, such as new hours of operation and what new policies are in effect. It’s important to keep them informed, especially about what they can expect from a service visit. Make sure all of this information is easily accessible on your website and social channels.

Consider making a video to explain and show the safety precautions your company is taking to keep customers and employees safe.

Canva Graphic Design

If you need to make quick ad or graphic, head over to Canva and search from over 50,000 customizable templates. No design experience needed. Create a Canva account, it’s free and easy.

If you have any questions, Canva’s Design School has the answer:

  • Getting Started
  • Adding & Editing Text
  • How to design from scratch
  • How to use a template to create unique designs
  • How to share, download, print, or publish your design

You can choose one of these hand-picked Canva Coronavirus Marketing Templates to get started:

  1. “We continue to serve.”

  1. Coronavirus Print & Social Media Resources

  1. Coronavirus Instagram Posts

Create a coronavirus marketing campaign or work with VitalStorm to create one for you.

Virtual Estimates

One way you can reduce exposure while continuing to work is with virtual estimates. Consider making these virtual estimates free.

Some companies have been doing it for years, and it takes some adjustment, but it may be the perfect solution right now.

  1. Make a list of services that are easier to conduct virtually.
  2. Zoom is probably the best platform to use since you can provide your customer with a link to the video stream without them having to download or sign up for anything. Other options include Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Skype, and FaceTime.
  3. Create a list of everything you need to perform an accurate estimate online.
  4. We recommend emailing your customers and/or creating a blog post that outlines how and when the call will be set up and what the customer may need to assist, such as measuring tape.
  5. When the call is finished, send a written estimate via email or text.

You may want to do a test run or two before advertising this service to customers, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, virtual estimates are a great way to reduce exposure and increase peace of mind for your customers and employees.

Remember, you can let customers know that this is an estimate and may not match the final invoice. Changes to the original estimate should be agreed upon before work is completed. This should all be clearly communicated with the customer.

Digital Payments

Reduce the risk of exposure by moving to a digital payment system. Instead of handling cash or cards, send a digital invoice that can be paid online.

Google Ad Text Templates

We’ve provided a few ad text examples so you can be found when homeowners are searching, and communicate a confident and caring message to those who are in need during this health crisis.

  1. We’re Open & Ready For Service

Call Today. Our Skilled [Technicians] Are Available & Ready to Help Get Your [Service] Back In Order.

  1. Open & Ready | Need a [Technician]?

Call Today! Our Skilled Techs Will Get Your [Service] Problem Resolved & Back To Normal.

  1. Need a [Technician]? We’re There

If You Are Facing a Problem With Your [Service], We’re Here To Help Get Back To Normal.

It’s Our Social Responsibility

We all owe it to each other to take every measure necessary to mitigate the communal spread of coronavirus. In order to help home service providers like you, we’ve compiled a simple list of steps and precautions from the CDC and OSHA, so that your service calls are healthy and safe for everyone. Please review these documents for proper guidelines.

The Healthy & Safe Service Call

  1. Check your technicians’ temperatures before they go out to their first call each day. If any tech has a temperature over 99 degrees, send them home and require they see a physician.
  2. Ask technicians to take their own temperature each evening. If they (or another household member) have a temperature over 99 degrees, require them to stay home and see a physician.
  3. Have technicians wear disposable gloves and disposable shoe covers.
  4. Equip each service vehicle with soap and water for hand washing between service calls.
  5. Provide each technician with hand sanitizer, where available. (Hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol.)
  6. Require technicians to keep 6 feet of distance between themselves and homeowners at all times. Require they wipe down surfaces near their work area after each job.
  7. Use CDC-approved disinfectants to routinely clean frequently touched surfaces in workspaces, vehicles, and equipment.
  8. Screen customers before setting up an appointment. If you do receive an emergency request from a household that has been exposed to the virus, it is now considered by OSHA to be a “high-exposure” job that requires additional safety precautions.
  9. Maintain a minimum 6 feet from the customer at all times. Inform them of this policy beforehand and encourage any measures that will limit contact, such as staying in a separate room.

VitalStorm Is Here For You

In these uncertain times, fear can quickly take over. Take this time as an opportunity to educate and serve your community. VitalStorm is here to help.

Contact us today to learn how coronavirus is affecting the home service industry and what you can do to protect your business, employees, and customers.