Sunday night, I was sitting on the couch with my husband watching the local news when it hit: Our county is officially going into lockdown.
As the Coronavirus spreads, it can be hard to keep up with all the news. What matters? What's changing? What do you need to pay attention to?
We're here to help do the research for you, so you can keep yourself safe, and know how to protect your business during the Coronavirus health crisis.
How Does a Lockdown Affect Your Business?
Across the United States, many counties (including our own in Dallas County) have issued a Shelter-in-Place for all residents in non-essential jobs.
By this point, you’re probably wondering, “What does this mean for me and my business?”
Well, this is the part where it gets a little hazy. It seems that essential businesses are being determined at a local level. The keyword is “essential.”
Does your local government consider your services “essential?”
The good news is that most local governments consider the following as essential jobs:
- Lawn care and (critical) landscaping
- Pest control
- Commercial cleaning
- House cleaning
However, non-critical landscaping might not be considered an essential job in your area.
But there’s only one way to be certain…
Call your County Officials to make sure your business is considered essential.
Helpful tip: If you’re in Dallas County, lawn care, pest control, pool cleaning, cleaners, and non-vanity landscaping are all considered essential businesses.
Will My Business Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic?
If your business is considered essential, you can resume business. But it’s not business as usual: you may need to focus on your most efficient, in-demand services to stay profitable.
Plus, if you’re only offering your main services, it’ll make it easier to practice social distancing with your crews.
We’ll talk more about “recession-proofing” your business further down.
If your business is not considered essential, you may need to consider pivoting to a new service for the moment to keep your cash flow alive.
For instance, Dallas County has deemed anything necessary for maintaining residences or businesses as essential (which is something you can pivot to as an essential service).
How Do I Protect Myself?... My Employees?
The most important thing is to protect yourself and your employees.
Follow the Five CDC guidelines to stay healthy:
- Stay out of groups (and close offices when possible)
- Educate your team on reducing the spread of COVID-19
- Keep a 6-foot distance from others (no physical contact with clients either)
- Work from home when possible (get the right software to run your business entirely from home)
- Encourage sick employees to stay home (consider implementing sick leave, or else you could endanger your entire workforce)
All communication with your clients, including payments, should be made virtually.
Right now, touching cash and checks is not a great idea, because the Coronavirus can live for up to 72 hours on many surfaces.
This is why it’s important for you to accept credit card payments online (which you can do with something like Service Autopilot).
Take a look at the full CDC Guide for business owners here.
Bonus tip: If you’re not already doing so, consider providing all team members with water and hand sanitizer. Staying hydrated increases your resistance to the virus, and hand sanitizer is a great way to wash your hands on the go.
How Do I Protect My Business from an Upcoming Recession?
The Coronavirus presents a lot of unforeseen challenges for many businesses. And as you’ve likely heard on the news, a potential recession is likely to hit.
… Which is probably making you wonder how you’re going to protect your business.
Fortunately, there are a few options for protecting your business.
How Do I Keep My Clients During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Many local counties have issued a mandatory Shelter-In-Place to protect individuals from COVID-19. But just because people can’t leave their homes, doesn’t mean the work stops.
With that said, no matter if you are or aren’t able to continue your services, you can still keep your clients.
How Do You Keep Your Clients?
First off, make sure your work is essential.
If your business cannot operate during the quarantine, now is the time to send a message to your clients. Let them know you will be available as soon as the quarantine ends.
Also, don’t forget to follow up with them when the quarantine ends! Or else, you could lose them.
If your work is essential, you should feel free to keep working, but you need to think hard about what your clients want from you right now.
How Do I Keep My Clients from Canceling?
Trust is key, especially now. Do NOT underestimate the importance of KEEPING your client’s trust in these uncertain times.
Make sure they feel safe with you around. Send out an email blast and a social media post about how you protect your clients and employees. Your clients need to know you’re taking best practices into consideration.
If a client asks to cancel because of economic uncertainty, you can ask them to reconsider: Would you want to move to a bi-weekly or monthly service? Is there anything we can do to keep your business?
Go the Extra Mile During the Health Crisis
What can you do to keep your clients thrilled with you?
Can you offer the sick or the elderly some kind of special add-on service that will make their lives easier and safer?
Remember: During any downturn or crisis, you will lose clients. So if you have the bandwidth, it’s important to keep marketing and growing your business.
How do you market your business? How can you grow when everyone else is shrinking? Read this:
Should I Be Trying to Sell More Work?
Even during a quarantine, as long as your local government has deemed your industry essential, you should consider continuing to sell.
Due to social distancing, this might be more feasible for those in lawn care or commercial cleaning (where offices are already closed).
If you’re in lawn care, then general lawn maintenance is a big deal right now. People are either afraid of going outside, or they can’t because they’re sick. And, as usual, commercial lawns are going to need general maintenance too.
On the flip side, if you’re in commercial cleaning, the office buildings will still have to be cleaned and maintained. And since they’re likely closed, your team can still maintain social distancing.
If you decide to continue your selling season as usual, focus your marketing efforts solely online (i.e. Facebook Ads, Google Ads, etc… ).
Now isn’t the time to be going door-to-door selling. Which means, you probably shouldn’t be doing 9-arounds either. With social distancing at a high-priority, potential clients aren’t going to like you touching their doors right now.
Should I Be Hiring Right now?
Hiring employees during a recession can be a great move for your business, but it’s up to YOU to decide what’s right for your business.
- You don’t have to look as hard for employees
- Awesome employees are suddenly available again
- Your pay doesn’t have to be as competitive as it was before
- It costs money to hire new employees
- You’ll lose money you don’t have if it doesn’t work out
- With the economy uncertain, there’s a higher risk for hiring
No matter what, just remember the same hiring rules apply as before:
Employees require time and money to adequately train. So be prepared to lose money while they’re in training (and even more if they don’t work out).
If you can afford to take that risk, then you could potentially hire some awesome employees that might otherwise not be available to you.
Stay on Top of the Coronavirus with These Resources
- SBA Disaster Loan
- Emergency Relief - Check Your State
- CDC - Coronavirus Updates and Guidelines
- Johns Hopkins - Coronavirus Resource Center
- CNN - Daily LIVE Coronavirus Outbreak Updates
- The New York Times - The Coronavirus Outbreak
- Check with Your State Agency for Tax Extensions
- World Health Organization - Coronavirus Information