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5 Things to Know for COVID and Beyond

May 19, 2020
Here are five things you should know for running your business in this environment and after.
The coronavirus has changed things. Some of the changes are temporary. Some are likely to be long lasting. Here are five things you should know for running your business in this environment and after.

1. Business Exists

A recent survey of more than 2,000 contractors revealed that one out of five had shut their business down for the coronavirus. No offense, but that’s a mistake. Plumbers protect the health of the nation and there are lots of people who need your services. There are essential businesses that need plumbing work. There is business to be had.

Frankly, with 20 percent of the competition withdrawing from the market, others cutting marketing, and still others never marketing to begin with, as perverse as it sounds, things are getting easier. Digital marketing costs are falling so you can buy more marketing with your dollar. Social media engagement is higher than ever, so you have more opportunity to tell your brand story.

The March report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that two thirds of the initial unemployment claims came from restaurants, bars, and hotels. This makes sense. These employees are overwhelmingly renters, not homeowners. They will not call you even when they have jobs. They will call landlords who use their own handymen for most repairs, not plumbing professionals.

Meanwhile, a lot of homeowners are still working. They are working from home. They are spending more time in their home. They are using their plumbing more. They are flushing who knows what down the toilet. They have stoppages. They can no longer avoid the small plumbing issues that drive them crazy.

Moreover, the homeowners who are working from home have extra cash. How’s that, you ask? This year’s summer vacation has likely changed. No one will be going to theme parks for a while. No one will be going on cruises. No one wants to load the family on a plane. It just makes sense that they will spend some of that extra cash on their homes where they are spending more time.

2. Marketing Communication is More Important

Engage people with social media. Ask your team to engage people. Take out ads on social media platforms. Make videos. Let people know that you are open for business. Let people know the steps that you are taking to protect them and your team.

The digital marketing agencies report that searches are actually up. Try different search engine marketing approaches. As Jim Collins wrote, fire bullets, then cannon balls. Try little things to see what works. When you find something, invest more. Fire cannon balls.

3. The Product Mix Needs to Shift

The run on toilet paper is on everyone’s minds. Now is the perfect time to talk about add-on bidet seats. It’s an easy addition. Most people do not even know they exist. If a homeowner walks barefoot in his backyard and steps in dog poop, he doesn’t wipe off with a paper towel, he uses a hose. An add-on bidet seat is the same thing.

Of course, everyone is concerned with sanitation today. Along with the runs on toilet paper, there were runs on bottled water, despite the steady supply from the household taps. That makes this a great time to talk about water purification. Talk about the pros and cons of the different types, including whole-house versus point-of-use.

Because of the coronavirus, people will be more sensitive about all disease. Legionella is one people should be cautious about and will be around long after COVID-19 has burned out. The Centers for Disease Control logs thousands of cases a year. Even so, Legionnaire’s Disease is likely vastly under reported and can appear to be the flu. There are two ways to treat this. One is to raise water temperature in storage tanks to 140 deg F and use a mixing valve to reduce the temperature of the water discharged from the tank to prevent scalding. The other is to offer a tankless water heater.

4. Every Plumbing Company Should Add Drain Cleaning

If you have not done so already, add drain cleaning to your service portfolio. Recent experience clearly shows the value of drain cleaning to a company. There will always be a demand for it and it leads to other work. Drain cleaning gives companies a foot in the door to build customer relationships. As part of your drain cleaning, add a jetting service and camera service.

5. Every Plumbing Company Should Offer Financing

Identify a source of consumer financing you can offer to your customers. Do not worry about turn downs. If a consumer needs financing and does not qualify, the individual would not be able to buy without it. However, financing does make more expensive work affordable to homeowners who are financially stressed.

For more plumbing ideas and content, try the Service Roundtable. Shift your purchases to the Preferred Partners in the company’s buying group and your $50 monthly membership will more than pay for itself. Learn more at www.ServiceRoundtable.com or call, 877/262-3341.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable (ServiceRoundtable.com). The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.