For the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a rollercoaster of operational disruptions that no one saw coming—including HVAC and plumbing business operators. However, despite a brief reprieve in cases across certain areas, the recent resurgence of the Delta variant has led to spiking case numbers and location-specific shutdowns that indicate this pandemic isn't going anywhere any time soon.
As some of the world pushes to return to normal, and with the holidays rapidly approaching, the looming uncertainty behind pandemic restrictions has created a new grey area that business owners must prepare for and adapt to, and fast. If COVID-19-related operational impacts continue, you and your HVAC or plumbing team must feel equipped to take on any unexpected challenges thrown your way.
Below are the most relevant tips and resources to allow your HVAC and plumbing business to continue to navigate the next chapter of the pandemic.
Financial Assistance Resources
Many HVAC and plumbing businesses have suffered significant financial loss due to steep reductions in work orders and staffing issues throughout the pandemic. Suppose your company has been deeply impacted by the pandemic and is at significant risk of further hardship in the event of another COVID-19 lockdown. In that case, there may be government assistance available to you.
While many government programs, such as the Payment Protection Program, have been exhausted in recent months, some financial resources are still available for small to mid-size HVAC and plumbing businesses. There are also readily available resources to connect you with business loan lenders and better prepare for future concerns. While these resources are nationally based, business owners should also research assistance programs specific to their state.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers the low-interest COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) loan for businesses that have experienced revenue loss throughout the pandemic.
- SBA's pilot loan programs, including the Community Advantage Loan program, can assist small HVAC and plumbing businesses in underserved markets.
- The SBA also offers an online tool to aid in finding your business a loan lender.
Resources for Business Operations
Throughout the pandemic, HVAC and plumbing business operators may have had to adopt new operational practices to safely keep up with customers and adapt to the changing environment COVID-19 created. Likewise, state and city-level restrictions made typical operations a hassle, requiring business owners to abide by ordinances while maintaining daily workflow.
Unlike other businesses, HVAC and plumbing companies simply cannot go entirely virtual. However, some general practices, such as touchless online payments and virtual consultations, help ease the comfort of worried customers and boost safety in the workplace. If you haven't already, you may want to look into adopting some new methods to accommodate any COVID-19-related disruptions in the future.
- Adopt the use of a business management program, such as FieldEdge, to help digitize and improve various operational focuses, including customer payments, customer management, and inventory management among supply chain delays.
- Follow the USA Today COVID-19 map of case trends, restrictions, and mobility to keep up with the current operating conditions in your state.
- Incorporate video call platforms such as Zoom and Google Duo for consultations in the event restrictions return or simply for customer preferences.
Resources for Ongoing Services
While the pandemic has posed some temporary COVID-19-related impacts to countless industries, HVAC and plumbing business operators should expect some extended or permanent alterations to services as we continue to navigate the concern. Of the numerous impacts, it's a given that customers will continue seeking ways of preventing the risk of COVID-19 infection.
As an industry professional, you can update your services and workflow processes to provide an added level of comfort regarding these customer concerns. From new technologies to best safety practices in customer homes and businesses, here are a few resources to keep in mind for both homeowner and commercial business owner services.
- Discover commercial HVAC technology that's helping businesses navigate COVID-19 concerns and boost safety with this recent blog from J.B. Warranties.
- In the event of any additional COVID-19 restrictions, plumbers should refer to this CDC guide for reopening buildings following a prolonged shutdown or reduced operations.
- Guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) covers COVID-19 safety practices for in-home service workers.
Stay Ready for the Unexpected
The operational slowdowns inflicted on numerous industry types across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic is something we never expected. With this being said, remember that you're not alone, and other HVAC and plumbing operators are in the same boat. As such great uncertainty remains—and the risk of new restrictions and shutdowns are still very possible—it's crucial to stay prepared.
From vaccination and testing resources to government-level guidance on navigating the ongoing COVID-19 environment, hold onto these resources to ensure you stay on top of any unexpected slowdowns in the coming months.
Director of Operations at JB Warranties