There’s a favorite Henry Ford quote I’ve been sharing frequently of late.  Ford was attributed as saying, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right.”  My friends in contracting, if there was ever a time to allow that quote to resonate with ourselves, it is now. 

As little as a month ago, we routinely talked to our AirTime clients who were experiencing the best first quarters in their businesses—after having record-breaking 2019’s.  Then the COVID-19 pandemic befell us all.  Those happy calls turned into calls of concern.

I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t be concerned.  This is quite clearly a health crisis.  It is our duty as business owners to keep our employees and our customers as safe and sound as possible by implementing every bit of precaution we can.

As essential businesses, it’s also our duty to keep our business operating for the safety and health of our community, as well as the financial health of our employees.  We must adapt to this new work environment.  Residential contractors, some words of wisdom we are sharing with our clients:

Stay Informed.  News is breaking from all angles quickly.  Understand how the latest legislation will impact your business and how you might utilize it to your benefit, especially the provisions of the CARES Act.  We created a “COVID-19 Business Response Resource Center” for our clients with over 50 links to original and sourced pieces. 

Adapt your service experience.  We have clients who are conducting “virtual service calls” where they interact with homeowners minimally.  Consider what steps you can take to ease customers’ concerns and then earn their business.  We have created a guide for our clients on additional safety measures technicians should take while running service calls.

Value every call.  Many of our customers have shared with us that their call volume is down 40-50 percent, yet their sales have remained on target.  They believe their technicians are slowing down, ensuring they’re delivering great service, and ultimately earning the trust and business of their customers.

Focus on financing.  It still befuddles me the number of contractors who don’t offer financing.  The average American doesn’t have $500 for an emergency, and money will likely be tighter moving forward.  Please, look into a financing company.  We have multiple companies who work with our clients, including second-chance companies.

Train, train, and train some more.  If your technicians aren’t running as many calls, don’t send them home without pay.  Invest the time and resources into communication and sales training.  That’s precisely how our member contractors are keeping sales strong with less calls.  We recently rolled out a training video series completely free to members, which role plays precisely how a call should be run in the home.  Find resources similar to help your business.  It’s not a cost—it’s an investment in a much larger return.

Don’t stop marketing.  The worst thing you can do is to turn off your marketing completely.  Many broadcast mediums are looking to make deals, as many other typical advertisers have pulled out completely.  This is your time to get the maximum number of ads for your dollar. 

These are just a few thoughts to help you through this tumultuous time.  Rather than hyperventilating about what could happen to your business, focus on what you can control.  Look for ways to lift your business above the others who will choose to shrink away from the challenge.

One of our members in Ohio initially closed following the coronavirus news breaking in the States.  They were concerned it would be the end of their multi-generational business.  Following some guidance from us, they quickly re-opened.  On one of their first appointments, a basic maintenance call, a technician found significant traces of carbon monoxide in a customer’s home.  That simple maintenance call, which some would have deemed non-essential, protected the health of that homeowner.  And it led to a $9,000 system replacement for our member contractor.

Make no mistake, what we do as HVAC contractors is essential.  If they’re not calling you now, your customers will be calling you as soon as temperatures rise.  It’s up to you to provide great service, while also keeping them and your people safe. 

These next few months likely will not be easy.  But Henry Ford guided his company through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Spanish Flu.  With the right mindset and the ability to adapt, we too will survive and then thrive. 

Stay strong, my friends.  See you on the other side.

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