Coronavirus has gripped much of the world and particularly the United States, which experts are warning could become the disease’s new epicenter.
This has prompted wide-reaching shutdowns of businesses deemed non-essential by federal and local authorities. Not on that list, in many cases? HVAC contractors.
But how do HVAC companies keep workers and clients safe while staying afloat in this unprecedented time? In this post, we’ll share a few measures companies can take. All of these are based on guidance from health authorities.
Measure #1: Take The Opportunity To Educate Clients
Prior to coronavirus, many of your residential and commercial clients likely paid very little attention to their indoor air quality. This lax attitude is common throughout the United States, where concentrations of pollutants indoors are often 2-5 times higher than they are outdoors.
In the age of coronavirus, however, people are much more conscious about sanitation. The CDC has made public, for example, information about COVID-19’s ability to spread through the air. According to one report from the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus could live in the air for hours.
Contractors should never fearmonger to gain sales. However, telling your clients that they need to change air filters and address issues like leaks early-on is not fearmongering. It’s good advice that can help strengthen your relationship with your clients.
Measure #2: Keep Communication Lines Open With Workers
Publicly-traded HVAC companies have fared well despite the major economic downturn brought about by coronavirus. But while the industry as a whole has strong fundamentals, things can be much more uncertain for smaller businesses providing HVAC services in limited areas.
The resulting fear surrounding potential lost wages can be devastating for company morale and productivity.
Here are some good tips for avoiding this issue with your contractors:
- Be calm yet truthful. Don’t give into panic yourself but be truthful concerning market conditions and your company’s expectations for the forseeable future.
- Engage your employees in the conversation. Don’t just talk at your employees; engage them directly in discussions about operations and future plans. The American Institute of Stress has shown that a lack of control at work produces substantial stress, which you don’t want in this already-stressful time.
Measure #3: Be Understanding Of Your Contractors’ Needs
In much of the United States, schools are closed and will likely remain so for the rest of the year. This has upended the schedules of many people, who now have to worry about keeping kids occupied and safe at home.
To accommodate this, many companies have relaxed their policies around hours and scheduling.
There are many reasons to do this. For one, it’s the nice thing to do. If you are foreseeing a rough patch for your company, it also will strengthen loyalty in your employees at a time when you need it most.
People like working for companies that value their well-being. Take this opportunity to set yourself apart from the many companies who are failing in this regard.
Measure #4: Keep Your Clients Posted On Safety Precautions You’re Taking
As community spread becomes more and more dominant in the United States (meaning locals are giving it to each other even if they haven’t traveled), people are increasingly avoidant of coming into contact with strangers. That means you may find it harder to book in-home appointments for installations or maintenance.
This will, unfortunately, be a fact of life until things get back to normal. But you can attempt to mitigate this by making it clear to customers what precautions your are taking to keep them and your workforce safe.
That means keeping in line with recommendations from your local authorities. In Arizona, for example, authorities have recommended regular handwashing, keeping sick people home, and frequently disinfecting surfaces.
This is a measure being taken by many service companies whose work involves person-to-person contact.
Measure #5: Use This As A Learning Experience
Coronavirus blindsided many people. Some, however, (like Bill Gates) foresaw a major epidemic as far back as 2015. You don’t need to be like Nastredamus to forsee some of the issues that will affect the HVAC industry in coming months and years. I wrote about one key issue — the HCFC refrigerant ban — here.
That ban is just part of an overall strategy to combat climate change, however. That strategy will see many more changes brought about within the industry.
Savvy HVAC contractors will use these trying times as a reminder to keep looking ahead. We can never get too comfortable when business is booming; we need to always be proactive.
HVAC contractors, we want to hear from you. How is your company dealing with the spread of coronavirus and its impact on the economy?