Have you been to a three-hour, very long movie that you were “encouraged” to attend by your spouse or significant other? You know the kind I mean. You’re interested for the first 15 minutes, and then you keep saying to yourself, “Will this ever end?” Does the coronavirus seem sort of like that? We keep thinking, “Will it ever end?”

Unfortunately, unlike the movie that finally ends when you see the credits roll, we aren’t sure when and how this episode is going to end. The good news is that we know that it will end sometime, just like the Depression and the World Wars. We as businesspeople have to maintain somewhat of a positive attitude as we lead our company and our employees through to the end of this nightmare.

While we know we will come out of the lockdowns and stay-at home-orders we have faced, we have to realize that segments of the public are going to handle this “coming out” in different manners. People I have talked and listened to share a variety of thoughts regarding how soon they are going to be ready to return to something resembling normalcy. I have heard everything from “as soon as they open the bars, I’m there, regardless of what restrictions they put on me to be there” to “I don’t plan to ever shake hands with anyone again.” I have heard just about everything in between those two extremes as well.

Since our employees are the ones representing us on the front line every day, I believe we need to prepare them for the fact that they are going to encounter customers who represent extremes in both directions, as well as many with opinions in between. It is extremely important that those front-line employees are trained to respect the wishes of each and every customer. I believe for the next couple of months, our service technicians and replacement installers need to continue to approach each residence wearing a mask and gloves. They can then take the cue from the customer as to that customer’s desires regarding the protection.

The same applies to social distancing and shaking hands. In these times, in order to maintain the integrity of your company, I believe it is better to error on the side of being too cautious. I don’t believe many customers will criticize your people for showing up with the proper protection and exercising the proper protocol when arriving at their home. On the other hand, I believe that there is a segment of the public who will be offended for several months in the future. Some I have talked to will not be comfortable until a reliable vaccine has been shown to be effective. Your company and your reputation are at stake, so use caution in proceeding.

Speaking of your company reputation, I saw an HVAC contractor ad recently in a St. Louis area newspaper which really disturbed me. It said in big letters: “Air Scrubber Whole House Air Purifier — Destroys up to 99 percent of all surface and airborne contaminants! Including common flu viruses.” While that statement may be true, with the coronavirus on everyone’s mind, I anticipate that the intention of the ad was to give the impression that this air scrubber is going to kill the coronavirus.

As HVAC contractors, we know that we can improve the air quality in every residence. In fact, as our consumers are now becoming more aware of the air quality in their home, this is a good time to offer and encourage them to purchase air purifiers and humidifiers.

However, as responsible contractors and citizens, we know that the air cleaning products that we install are not going to guarantee that everyone in the home is protected against coronavirus.

To advertise something that you know is not true is not only damaging to your reputation but puts a black mark on the entire industry.

Let’s work together to do everything we can to insure the health and safety of our employees and our customers. However, let’s not use deceptive tactics to attempt to take advantage of a public which we know is in a vulnerable state.

You and your employees need to take all of the appropriate steps, and if you do, we will all get through this together. As I tell our employees, “Our company has survived two world wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and a lot of other bumps in the road. We are not going to let a virus take us down.” Stay healthy.