At the risk of making a major understatement, running a business is hard work, and it takes a special type of person. This is especially true during difficult and trying times. One could argue times do not get more difficult or trying than the ones we are currently in with the coronavirus pandemic.

As I write this in my home office that will get much more use in the near future, I would feel comfortable saying nobody knows where this crisis will lead. Whether you are a person who is anxiously hoarding toilet paper or one of those individuals who believes this is the biggest overreaction in our nation’s history, you have to deal with the reality of where we find ourselves. That reality is that local officials are essentially closing down their cities, and residents are concerned that everyone they come in contact with is carrying this disease.

As the leader of your HVAC business, what are you doing? First off, know that all eyes are on you. Employees are feeding off your positive vibes or nervous energy. At this point, they should be your No. 1 priority.

“First off, know that all eyes are on you. Employees are feeding off your positive vibes or nervous energy. At this point, they should be your No. 1 priority.”

To begin with, there are small things you can do. We heard from one contractor who is holding meetings in the warehouse rather than the conference room. Simple but smart. Allow people to spread out so they are not right on top of each other. Perhaps have smaller meetings instead of getting the entire team together. Push for basic hygiene and cleaning. I would say make sure the office has an abundance of hand sanitizer, but if you have not already purchased it, that ship has probably sailed. If you are a company that has gone paperless, buy some disposable styluses for your iPads.

Every little bit helps. In addition to making your employees safer, it shows them that you care.

Of course, there are larger decisions to be made as well. Not having employees travel for training seems like a no-brainer at this point. A bigger decision is letting people work from home if their jobs would not be affected.

Next, on to your customers. The most important item here is to make sure they know you are still open for business. You do not run a restaurant or fitness center. HVAC is an essential service in today’s world.

The ACHR NEWS is certainly hearing from contractors that some homeowners are not in the mood to invite workers into their homes. Completely understandable, considering the situation. But that is a lot easier to say during a shoulder season, when the mild climate doesn’t make heating or cooling equipment terribly important. That will certainly change in a few months, when temps begin to spike, or even in a few days if a cold front moves into the Midwest.

It is time to get in front of your customers (virtually) so they know who to call when they are ready for you to be there. Send an email to all the addresses you have on file telling them the precautions that you are taking. Let them know that none of your employees who show any symptoms will be working and that they will be medically cleared before they return. Explain that your company has implemented many cleaning and sanitation protocols and is doing everything you can to combat this pandemic. Don’t feel like you are overreaching with this e-blast. Personally, I have received a bunch of these in my inbox — everyone from local restaurants to my doctor’s office.

And finally, do all these items but try not to overreact. We will get through this, and your company will get through this. It is always darkest before the dawn.

Be safe.