Home Improvement Businesses in a COVID World - Five Tips to Stay Safe
Here we are, over six months into the pandemic. And with no sign of an end in sight.
There are, of course many, many negatives to life during this pandemic - hundreds of thousands of deaths, businesses collapsing, people unable to leave their homes.
And we're also seeing some trends emerging, like in-store retail really suffering. So much so that just yesterday, one of the largest owners of shopping malls in the United States is in the process of converting those spaces into Amazon fulfilment centres.
But one of the 'COVID-19 trends' that will probably surprise no one is the rise of home renovations and improvement. The reason for this is pretty simple; people are spending a lot more time at home and in the back yard.
With this growing demand for renovations and improvement, further demand for businesses who can supply these services grows alongside.
COVID-19 presents a unique opportunity for those in home improvement or renovation businesses. And with that demand, there are also some key challenges, given people want to feel safe in their homes.
We've come up with FIVE TIPS for home improvement and renovation businesses
1. Leading by Example
When at a customers' home, it's essential to show a strong commitment to helping stop the spread of COVID-19. Wear a facemask, carry hand sanitiser in your pockets. And make a slight show of using the sanitiser before entering the home for the first time. This will put the homeowner at ease. It may also encourage them to commit themselves further to help stop the spread.
2. Develop a COVID-Safe Plan for your Business
If you have not done so already, sit down with your workers and come up with a strong plan - a COVID-Safe Plan for your business. Doing so helps to identify the actions you can take every day to minimise the risk of you, your workers, and your customers contracting COVID.
The NSW Government has come up with a very simple COVID-Safe Plan Template by industry type.
Once you've developed the plan, attach it is a link in every email you send suppliers and customers. And place a note in your diary to discuss the plan and any challenges faced by your workers every week.
In addition to this, your plan and actions should definitely focus on the below:
- Do not offer to shake hands and make sure you tell the customer why
- Do not touch your face
- Use disinfectant wipes daily on all equipment, devices and product samples you may carry with you
- Wear gloves if at all possible
- Maintain appropriate social distancing
- Call the customer when you arrive and arrange to meet them outside.
- Offer to use side or rear access where available.
- Avoid entering the customer's home if at all possible
- Explain to the customer that you have a COVID-Safe Plan and that you are happy to share it if needed
- Wear gloves when conducting work on site.
- Do not use the customers' bathroom
- Don't let the customers' bad choices and habits change your own behaviours, i.e. if it's clear they aren't as committed to being COVID-safe as you are, don't relax your personal commitment.
3. No Contact / Zero Contact With Customers For Business Processes that don't Require It
If you don't have to have contact with the customer, don't. Processes such as invoicing, designing, quotes and marketing materials can be sent to the customer without having personal contact.
You may even decide to offer Zoom initial consultations to your customers to avoid first up contact.
The point is most customers before this pandemic already probably hated (physical) paperwork. So, use software and technology to make yours and their lives easier, and help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the process.
4. No Contact / Zero Contact with Suppliers - Buy online or order over the phone
As is the case with No/Zero contact with suppliers, wherever possible, all your engagements with suppliers should be with no personal contact. Use online or over the phone orders. For a more personalised service or for a closer look at some products you are looking to purchase, you could use Zoom or Facetime with the Suppliers' representative. This method may have made little sense even six months ago. Today it's par for the course.
Develop or find a simple questionnaire or checklist you and your workers can complete every day to self-declare you and they are COVID-free. There are many templates out there, so find the right one for your business. But whichever template you decide to use, make it short. The idea is that a set of simple questions relating to an individuals' signs or symptoms and making them accountable for how they're feeling and whether or not they attend work if some symptoms of COVID-19 are present.
The five tips we have listed here are by no means a comprehensive list of strategies to tackle the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presents a home improvement or renovation business. Instead, here we have attempted to select just five tips to serve as action points that can be implemented in your business today to help stop the spread. There are other resources you can tap into over and above what we've listed here.
Possibly the first port of call should be Safe Work Australia.
Chris Beasley is Managing Director of Safety Navigator, a cloud-based WHS system with over 10,000 Australian and New Zealand business customers, many of whom are Franchise Organisations.