As a home services company, you have almost certainly faced challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At PaySimple, we’re dedicated to helping businesses navigate these challenges. In an earlier post, we discussed adaptive measures you can take as a home services company. Now, we’re looking to the future. Here’s how to help your home services business recover during this ongoing health crisis.
1. Review Our SBA CARES Act Guide For Help Now
As you begin planning your strategy, it’s important to figure out what help is available. To make it easier, we’ve published a comprehensive SBA CARES Act Guide for small businesses. This guide breaks down resources available in the CARES Act and how it could help your home services company weather the storm.
These resources include:
- SBA CARES Act small business loans: Available not only for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but also for self-employed individuals, independent contractors, or sole proprietors.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The PPP offers a grant/loan hybrid that you can use for payroll expenses and potentially other expenses.
Already have a small business loan? The CARES Act includes provisions that allow you to pause your payments or offers some payment forgiveness. Once you can figure out which benefits could shore up your bottom line you can begin planning your next move.
2. Familiarize Yourself With The Home Improvement Practices Act
As COVID-19 moves across the U.S., the Home Improvement Practices Act addresses the adjustments that may be necessary due to this health crisis. It’s especially important for those in the home improvement and remodeling industries to review.
For example, if you are not able to complete a construction project due to increased health measures, the Act specifies that all delays must be put in writing. Similarly, homeowners who need to delay, cancel, or change the contract must communicate in writing. Ensure you’re following this guidance every step of the way.
If a grey area comes up or complications arise, practice good communication, record-keeping, and consult with an attorney when appropriate.
3. Audit Your Home Services Strategy And Revenue Streams
You may have already pivoted to new revenue streams as homeowners canceled or modified their contracts with you. You’re not alone; many businesses have adapted to COVID-19 in ways they hadn’t planned.
Consider the following examples of how home services businesses have changed their strategies to better serve their customers right now.
- Home repair companies are relying on consumers to keep their employees safe by practicing social distancing. When this isn’t possible and repairs need to be completed, employees can drop off parts and send tutorials for consumer-completed repairs. When possible, some companies are continuing to offer in-home services with a heightened focus on distancing (asking clients to be out of the home for example), cleaning, sanitation, and safety procedures.
- In Massachusetts, the local internet provider, CTC, is offering free internet upgrades to handle increased traffic from those working at home. In areas where internet coverage is spotty or not possible, CTC is providing free WIFI hotspots for everyone to stay connected.
These examples underscore the importance of finding and exploring new streams of revenue and ways to look differently at the services you offered before COVID-19.
How can you move towards a wider variety of virtual and in-person services? Are there any consulting options you can offer or products you can sell, in addition to your home services? Are there mobile services you can provide? Can you move into different commercial services? Your home services business might also consider partnering with other businesses to enhance each other’s offerings to provide additional revenue streams.
Or, like CTC, consider what you can provide as a free service to help your community. Customers recognize and appreciate that effort to make their lives easier during a difficult time. They’ll remember it after this pandemic passes, too.
4. Stay Top Of Mind With Customers
Businesses that go completely dark during the pandemic will find it the hardest to come back when stay-at-home orders are lifted. Use this time as an opportunity to reach out to customers with helpful tips, guidance, and resources. Home cleaning services, for example, could post videos on how to properly sanitize surfaces. Landscaping companies could share tips for keeping up on spring weeds and yard upkeep.
You can share resources like these by:
- Regularly updating your social media accounts with practical and valuable information such as offers or discount codes that can be applied in checkout.
- Offering educational resources to your email lists. You can do this easily using PaySimple marketing email templates and email marketing capabilities.
- Keeping customers posted on any changes in hours, services, or special offers
- Announcing re-opening dates or setting up virtual consultations if you’ve been closed as a non-essential business.
Want to go further? Invest in paid marketing efforts if you have the budget for that. You might also consider partnering with other local businesses for promotions, special offers, and “re-opening day” incentives.
5. Evaluate Your Systems And Processes
Now’s the time to take a good, thorough look at your current systems and processes. Where are the inefficiencies you decided to cut during this pandemic? Do they need to remain in place after things return to a new kind of normal? Are there processes or systems that didn’t serve you or made it harder to be flexible for your clients? Do those need to stay, or can you consider removing them as obstacles in the future?
On the other hand, what helped? Are there new sanitation processes you’d like to incorporate into your work moving forward? Many businesses have also added new technologies to reach customers outside of their storefront, like online payment processing, email invoices, and online scheduling. Your clients may actually prefer these convenient solutions.
In preparation for future business, which of these systems and processes should remain? How can you update them during this downtime so they’re ready to go by re-opening? Think on how you can train staff and inform customers of any changes as well. For more PaySimple solution assistance, visit our Help Center for how-to guides and videos.
6. Plan For An Influx Of Customers
In many cases, home services companies will see an influx in their businesses as states loosen social distancing guidelines. If you’ve slowed production of materials or halted orders of products, begin planning how you’ll adjust for increased demand as time passes (or when stay-at-home orders are lifted).
As stay-at-home measures are lifted, anticipate operational changes and communicate to staff your plans on how to handle them. If you have had to furlough workers, how will you bring them back on, under what conditions, and in what order? And what if work slows again?
Developing a plan for an influx of customers is just as important as planning for a slow-down in business as you don’t want to lose out on business when you’ll need it the most. You may also need to plan ahead for increased volume, requesting a processing limit increase from your payment processing partner.
7. Begin Making Future Appointments
Likewise, don’t wait until stay-at-home orders are lifted to begin making future appointments. If customers are confident in your services, they will be ready to schedule services as soon as they can. If you had to cancel appointments, begin following up with customers you had to previously cancel work with.
If possible, begin scheduling virtual consultations. For simple projects, ask homeowners to take you on a virtual “tour” of their home or yard where they need work done. This could be by using FaceTime on their phone or another video app. After you have more details, you can draft an estimate for future work.
You can tie these appointments to a planned reopening date. Be open with customers, communicating any updated CDC guidelines or state recommendations as they occur.
In This Together
COVID-19 has affected the world in ways we could not have predicted. Reflect on this experience and use it to revise (or develop) a crisis contingency plan. This gives your home services business an internal guide for any challenges it might face in the future.
If your business needs assistance leveraging PaySimple during your recovery, let us know. Our product experts are available.