Wow, what a rollercoaster the last few weeks have been. For most all the world, the COVID-19 virus has changed life in such a way that most of us have never seen before. Some things are eerily reminiscent of 9/11/2001 where in just that one day, life and business drastically changed. To add to the current situation, I’m in Utah, and we recently experienced an earthquake as well. Dare I ask, what else?
Get an Emergency Checkup
As a business owner, the flood of emotions of the recent events are wide ranging. We all need to be prepared to deal with things that wouldn’t ever seem possible. It’s prudent to have plans in place for how to deal with all sorts of events from a virus to Earthquake and more.
I recommend initiating a company emergency checkup. Check with your insurance agent on specific policies or riders that may cover disasters. Then, create a simple, standard operating plan to handle specific situations, and add that to your company policies or handbook. Even if you are a single-person operation, having a plan will help.
- Make a list – including contact information -- of people, support services, and clients you may need to contact.
- List tasks – in order of importance -- that need to be done should a disaster happen.
- If you continue to work, be sure to job cost properly as you estimate. It's important you are profitable -- and that you not bid below costs just to generate quick cash. Sometimes in an emergency, panic sets in, and we don't think as smart as we should.
Planning and preparation are always key and will help keep you a step ahead.
In light of the current circumstances and how to best adapt to changing conditions, first and foremost the health and safety of you and your crew is vital to your business; So don't take unneeded risks. The Center for Disease Control has outlined several precautionary measures that should be taken, including social distancing of 6 ft., washing your hands often, and not touching your face. This is great advice for any illness, honestly, and has been said to reduce your chances of getting sick by over 50% alone. Encourage hand sanitizer use and social distancing while on the job. Fortunately for our industry, there shouldn’t be much change, but don't be afraid to innovate so that you can take care of customers as you are able.
Can You Market Now?
Normal marketing may seem a little ill-timed right now, but you still have a small business to run. Even in tough times like these you need to make sure it succeeds and that you can continue to employ people. One would never want to take advantage of the current situation, but we also have to keep our businesses rolling. So yes, there are ways to approach marketing while being sensitive to the many people and businesses that are struggling.
1. I recommend sending out or posting on your website a COVID-19 update from your company. We have all seen dozens of emails like this, but it is a simple way to let your clients know that you are still in business, that you are monitoring the situation, and that you are practicing safe practices.
2. Some companies have switched estimating policies to “meeting-less,” virtual site visits.
3. Another idea would be to send an additional letter from the CEO or company president. Let customers know that you personally are there for them and will work as hard as you can to ensure that your firm is able to handle all their needs.
4. Look for opportunities to help restaurants that are still closed to in-house dining and only open for drive-through operations. You can offer striping changes, signage, temporary signage etc. Also, with an increased traffic load, many grocery stores and drive-ups might need emergency patching or other repair.
5. Consider offering personnel for onsite traffic control to help with the general flow of a busy lot.
6. Those of you with pressure washers could offer shopping cart, trash can, or public space sanitizing.
7. For those in warmer weather, now would be that chance in a lifetime to potentially work on a lot that won’t have many or any cars, so really look at all of your clients and consider each option. We have scheduled some concrete work on pool decks, as right now pools aren’t planning to open anytime soon.
Fortunately for most of us in the pavement industry, our business shouldn’t be as affected as our favorite restaurant has been. And most of us are still in the start-up phase of the year, so hopefully the impact can be minimal as compared to if this would have hit in the summer.