April 2, 2020
By: Scott Harkins, vice president of sales, Resideo
The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic fallout dominate news headlines and has altered life fundamentally for our families, friends, coworkers, customers, homeowners, suppliers and industry partners. So, you may be asking yourself, "How can HVAC companies operate in this new business climate?" The short answer is: the decisions we make now will have an enormous impact on how we fare in the coming months.
A set of best practices has taken shape: we recently shared some tips, but I wanted to capture some additional ideas you can leverage to best support your essential HVAC business during this health crisis.
- 1. Help protect your employees. Homeowners and small business owners are currently living under social distancing rules and will need to feel assured that they will not be exposed. So, develop an-easy-to-articulate employee COVID-19 protection plan. For example, technicians should be outfitted with the appropriate protective gear and only use critical items that have been cleaned per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. While in the home, remain socially distant, clean all surfaces and equipment that were handled during the service, and use electronic means for all paperwork.
- 2. Tell your customers you are open for business. With nearly 300 million Americans currently under safer-at-home restrictions, many of them working from home, it's important to clarify if you are open and available to support them. Describe the measures you have taken to protect your employees and to protect the customer. Be specific and empathetic and include photos or a video of what the homeowner can expect. Since spring allergens and summer heat will sneak up on us all, be sure to offer suggestions – like air filter replacement or an AC tune up – that are informative and meet the unique needs of customers in your area.
- 3. Support your customers. Keep in mind your customers may be more fearful right now, so build out a suite of offerings that can provide comfort with data-backed decisions. For example, Resideo found that 95% of homes have an indoor air quality issue and 60% of homes have high levels of carbon dioxide (the air we breathe out). The elevated levels of carbon dioxide can actually make people drowsy and less productive. Offer to run an air quality assessment and leave it on their doorstep with instructions for the homeowner. You can share their air-quality results via email and offer solutions that can help solve those issues. One of those solutions could be to install an ultraviolet air purifier, which can remove some harmful airborne viruses passing by them in a home's HVAC ductwork. While there aren't any indoor air quality products on the market that are proven to be effective against contracting any respiratory virus, there are ways to at least reduce the number of airborne viruses in your home.
- 4. Engage your financial advisors. Now is the time to investigate the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, if appropriate. The largest section of the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program, can provide successful applicants with a loan for up to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll costs. If you retain your employees during this timeframe and the funds from the loan are used for payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent or utilities, that loan has a potential to be forgiven. Keep in mind, financial advisors can offer guidance, but you as the business owner have to apply for the government assistance. Some financial institutions that administer small business association (SBA) loans are expected to be ready to accept applications by Friday, April 3.
- 5. Give back. If business slows, either deploy additional training for your technicians or consider donating your time to assist the community. The HVAC industry has a long history of community support at the local level and today, people need assistance more than ever. Work with local churches, community centers, grocery stores or pharmacies and offer to use your sanitized trucks to deliver items to people in need.
For additional marketing and video resources that can help you meet the needs of your customers, visit www.resideo.com/coronavirusupdate.