As recent events have shown, leaders can get COVID-19, too. What happens when a leader, ranging from an HVAC contractor to the President of the United States, gets sick? Even a mild case of COVID-19 often keeps that person out of the office for weeks. Lance Bachmann, founder of 1SEO — a digital marketing firm that services numerous HVAC companies — recently found out how his business functions without him when he came down with COVID-19.
ACHR NEWS: What was your experience with COVID-19?
Bachmann: A friend called me on a Friday afternoon at around 4:00 and told me he had COVID. I was with him about 10 days prior. I felt fine, I had no symptoms. I went in for a rapid test and that came back negative. I went to another lab and they called me on Monday morning to say I tested positive.
I immediately called my leadership team and told them I had tested positive for COVID. We realized we had two options: keep it private and not tell anyone, or tell everyone. Once you tell one person, it’s one too many people you’ve told. By 9:30 that evening, everyone in the company knew about. We told everyone who didn’t have insurance that we would pay for the rapid test.
We had more than 40 employees get tested, and not one came back positive. My wife came back positive. My son came back positive. My two other sons did not.
ACHR NEWS: How did you handle the day-to-day operations from home?
Bachmann: The leadership team pretty much runs the day-to-day operations. I guide it and do a lot of the product development. So nothing really changed.
The problem is that the kids were at home. I’ve got three young boys under 17. My team jumped in and helped out a lot. I normally work 12 hours a day on average. I wound up working eight hours a day, due to the kids and the craziness.
ACHR NEWS: Do you ever feel a lot of symptoms?
Bachmann: The craziest part is when the lab told me, it was almost two weeks later. I wound up quarantining for two and a half weeks after that because the leadership team wanted to ensure our staff was comfortable. The only symptom I felt was like a sinus infection. I felt tired. I felt fatigued.
My wife had no symptoms. My son had no symptoms.
ACHR NEWS: Was being transparent the most important thing you did?
Bachmann: My employees were great. They understood. We’re very open here. We have about 100 employees, and it’s like a family. Everyone is very honest, very caring. The problem was out in the community. I actually said to people from a soccer league that if you keep pressing people like this, making their lives miserable, no one is going to tell you.
I believe in transparency. That’s what leaders do. I’m a very transparent person in my whole life.
ACHR NEWS: What was it like only being to work half as much as usual?
Bachmann: I enjoy working. I love digital marketing. I love building up companies. I like a team atmosphere. I’m glad to be back.
ACHR NEWS: What is the importance to a business owner of staying healthy, even in normal times?
Bachmann: The only reason I try to keep myself in somewhat decent shape is that we’re going at 150 miles per hour. When you own a business, run a business, you’re competing from the moment you wake up. You’re phone’s ringing, you’re handling things, you’re dealing with other people’s stress, you’re playing counselor. You’re playing so many different roles, dealing with millions of dollars, and you have other people’s lives in your hands.
If you can keep yourself mentally sharper and in good health, it’s such a difference maker. You’ll make better decisions in a stressful environment. Did it help with COVID-19? I don’t know. My friend who is a doctor said it did.
ACHR NEWS: What have you learned from this?
Bachmann: I was glad I never let the fear control me in my decision making. If you own a business, you’ve got a job to do. You’ve got to move forward in the best way you can. I’m not a big news person. I just looked at the data from the CDC and made the best decisions I could. We knew we had to keep moving our business forward in a safe way.
I’m a data person. I see the numbers. Statistically, I have a better chance of dying in a car crash — by a lot higher percentage — than I do of dying from COVID-19. I still drive every day. I’m diligent for the other people it might hurt and they may not have the same statistical chance that I do.