How to rethink your business model post-COVID-19

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Those in the home services industry have an advantage over many other businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic: Their role protecting the health and safety of consumers makes them essential businesses that don’t have to close. 

But that advantage quickly shrinks if you don’t adapt to new ways of working from COVID-19 limitations. That means:

  • Making customers and employees feel safe, and making interactions as contactless as possible.
  • Enabling a remote workforce plan that allows your business to run even when employees must practice social distancing.
  • Crafting a smart marketing strategy with the right message going to the right customers at the right time.
  • Pivoting the business, if necessary, to provide the products and services consumers need during this time.
  • Sticking to ethics and standards that will make you and your team proud when the world returns to normal. 

Here are seven new ways of thinking to keep your home services company healthy:

1. Think like a customer. What do they need, and how can you help?

If the air conditioner goes out, a pipe is leaking, or something keeps tripping a breaker, it’s an emergency. Health, safety, and property could be at stake. But what if a customer is concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19 from a home services technician? 


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Customers want to know that you’re open, able to help, and taking necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. Proactively let them know through your customer communications, whether through emails, a prominent banner on your website, or an automated note in your appointment confirmation.

2. Think like a marketer. Build business with smart, on-point messaging.

Not everything has to be about sales, but the message will change over time. Once you have reassured customers, you can move to other messages. 

For instance, deliver an honest, educational message about indoor air quality, or a reminder to homeowners that now is the time for maintenance or upgrades.

Messages about special financing offers could also be winners. “All people want to hear is that right now they don’t have to pay even though their A/C broke down,” said Nancy O’Hare-Zika, owner of Yellow Dog Creative

3. Think like a boss. Put systems in place to maximize efficiency.

With the workforce scattered and many forced to work remotely, technology is at a premium like never before. Having digital systems in place to allow customer service, sales, reporting, and more to continue business operations in that environment is key. Home services businesses should take time to reassess their current business systems and bring them online now. 

Getting fingertip access to key performance indicators, checks and balances on accounting and inventory, and the ability to hyper-target your email marketing are some things that can be streamlined and made available through software tools like ServiceTitan.

Ken Goodrich, who drove $101 million in revenue for Goettl Air Conditioning and Plumbing in 2019, built such a system using ServiceTitan. “If we can’t develop a system and quantify the system,” Goodrich said, “we just don’t do it.” 

4. Think like an entrepreneur. Apply lessons from the pandemic to the future.

Pivoting your business to make the most of a new opportunity now could be the best move for your business. A carpet cleaning company in Athens, Ga., switched from a mostly-residential client base to a focus on sanitizing hospitals and other medical facilities, bringing in revenue and preserving jobs. Some electricians have diagnosed minor customer problems by video conference instead of in-home visits.

The moves you make now can make your business stronger once the pandemic threat lessens.

5. Think like a lifelong learner. While business is artificially slow, add skills.

If business is slow, spend downtime training your staff. Whether it’s new technical skills, sales techniques, or optimizing your software, hours spent on education now will pay off in the future. 

Anthony Moore of Fuller Electric in Seattle says he’s lining up education for slower days. “It’s a perfect time for training,” he said.

From perfecting SEO or email marketing tactics to improving remote team communication, take the opportunity to learn something new.

6. Think like a human. Customers are suffering, too.

Those in home services always view themselves as protectors of public health and safety. Even without a pandemic, contractors always go the extra mile for their customers — and ServiceTitan has been celebrating this ongoing effort with the social media hashtag #TradesShowUp

When an eldercare facility in Greenville, S.C., clogged a sewer line with disinfecting wipes, Roto-Rooter didn’t hesitate, even though a resident was COVID-19 positive. After a temporary fix, Roto-Rooter got additional PPE and returned for a more permanent solution.

“They were definitely in a bind,” Roto-Rooter Greenville President Abby Zaffuto said. “So we just suited them up and sent them out there.”

That’s something a customer will remember in better times.

7. Think like an optimist. There are better days ahead.

Money might be tight, but it’s still possible to build your business while showing empathy and humanity through low-cost email marketing to current customers. Just keep moving forward.

“You can’t do nothing,” Chris Yano, CEO of RYNO Strategic Solutions, said. “You have to do something. And you can start with your content and putting your messaging out there.”

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