By Heather Ripley, CEO of Ripley PR
The COVID-19 pandemic has required heroic action from the home service industry. Businesses of all sizes are balancing the need to keep employees safe while providing essential services to their customers.
While some home service businesses are struggling in this environment, many are surviving and even thriving. One characteristic that sets the successful companies apart is their use of cloud-based services to keep things running. The ability to take calls, dispatch, schedule service, create invoices, hold meetings and see reports outside the four walls of your home office means a team can work anywhere, even from home.
Here’s how one company is making it work.
Ahead of the Curve in Austin
On March 14, Brad and Sarah Casebier of Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning in Austin, Texas, had a wake-up call. They knew COVID-19 would become a problem for their business and all of Austin, so they quickly took action. By March 15, they had new protocols and procedures in place for their entire organization. Soon after, all 18 CSRs and dispatchers were prepared to work from home. Technicians were armed with protective gear and sanitation protocols. They were ready.
“I cannot express how seriously we’re taking this,” Brad said. “If one person gets sick, 50-70% of your company could be out for two weeks. The responsibility to take precautions to protect the health of my team is enormous. We have to protect ourselves and the community.”
Besides acquiring safety gear, Brad said the biggest hurdle was finding enough computers and headsets for office staff to use at home. “Technically speaking, we were already virtual, already ahead of the curve. We were already on a cloud-based system.”
Radiant Plumbing & Air Conditioning uses ServiceTitan, a cloud-based system for residential and commercial service professionals, that incorporates dispatch, scheduling, service, sales and more. In essence, their office staff simply switched locations, not functionality.
In addition, Radiant was already making use of Google Drive to store daily scorecards. They implemented Google Hangouts and Zoom for virtual meetings and trainings. As a business owner, Brad said he’s focusing on communication and customer service. It’s his priority to keep everyone safe while keeping the team spirit alive.
“I’m taking the time to drop into meetings and to be fully present,” he said. “That’s powerful for our techs who are on the front lines to be able to speak directly with the owner. I’ve told directors that they should be Facetiming 50-60% of the time. The more contact the better, so they don’t feel alone.”
But, Brad said, having cloud-based systems in place before the crisis helped make the transition much easier.
The creators of cloud-based home service systems say their mission to serve businesses extends to the COVID-19 crisis, too. They’re committed to being great partners and seeing their clients through this crisis.
“I co-founded ServiceTitan to help small businesses, like my father’s, to grow, thrive and succeed,” said Ara Mahdessian of ServiceTitan. “That commitment doesn’t change now. In fact, it’s amplified. Our platform is the difference between home service companies serving their communities or not during this crisis. Through them, we’re helping homes across the country stay safe and comfortable.”
Another cloud-based business serving the industry is The New Flat Rate, a leading provider of menu-pricing software for home service companies. TNFR founder Rodney Koop agrees that now is the time to step up support for home service businesses.
“It’s always been our goal to ease the process of the sales transaction between customers and technicians,” Koop said. “Now, keeping that process simple and straightforward is more important than ever. Letting the customer see clearly all of their options and make the choice that’s right for their family, quickly and without sales pressure, that’s how you’ll win client trust in the current situation.”
Services like these are the difference between struggling and thriving for home service businesses right now, and the people behind these services are committed to seeing their clients through these challenging times.
Thriving in Crisis
In Austin, Brad Casebier said Radiant is doing “amazing” despite the current crisis.
“We’re actually gaining ground on our financial position during this crisis,” he said. “Our call volume has remained fairly unaffected. Customers are still having issues, and we’re still here to fix these issues.”
He chalks it up to preparation, flexibility, and the ability to work from anywhere.
“Getting all of this activated in a lockdown situation presented some challenges,” he said. “All of it had to happen really fast. It was a really big deal. None of this would be possible without cloud-based capability.”
He encouraged home service businesses to “err on the side of caution” when preparing for future crises.
“Be an extremist on the safety,” he said. “We were stunned when we realized that none of our techs knew how to properly use the PPE gear we were handing out. Giving them gloves and shoe covers is not enough. Without medical level PPE training, you have only given them the illusion of safety. We brought in a paramedic to train our guys, and we all are really confident that they really are safe. These are the kind of moments that define who you are. Your employees are watching. Put your team’s safety first.’”
Heather Ripley is CEO of Ripley PR, a global public relations agency specializing in home service and building trades. For additional information, visit http://www.ripleypr.com.