Angie’s List Cofounder Serves Up Advice To Small Business Home Service Providers On Weathering The Coronavirus Storm
Bernhard Schroeder Senior Contributor
I write about branding, trends, culture, creativity and disruptive businesses.
Many service professionals are small local businesses and they are feeling the impact of the coronavirus shutdown. And yet, quite a few of their repair and maintenance services are still needed as customer’s need plumbing problems fixed, roof leaks repaired, electrical failures resolved, garage door openers replaced and so on. While many states and cities have enacted orders regulating business operations, service providers including plumbers, exterminators, electricians and the like are ready and able to provide essential services to their customers.
Recently, I spoke with Angie Hicks, cofounder of Angie’s List and now Chief Customer Officer at ANGI Homeservices (ANGI) on how small businesses and independent service professionals could weather the coronavirus storm. “What we are seeing right now is home service professionals are focusing in on doing essential repairs but changing their process with a renewed focus on safety and transparency,” said Angie Hicks. “In addition, they are embracing technology to start early repair diagnosis via video, photos or chat and a one person, one visit approach to maximize multiple repair and revenue opportunities.”
She also put together the list below for possible ways these small business service professionals need to perhaps modify their marketing and business practices in order to deliver their valuable services.
Focus on the outside. Where possible, consider focusing on home or business projects that require little or no direct contact, like exterior projects. These low contact projects are great things to tackle as we head into spring. It also will make customers feel safe as most of the work can be down on the outside of the home or building.
Use technology to connect. Minimize physical contact with your customers by asking them to use the Angie’s List app or text and video messaging to connect with you, discuss project details, and share project photos. You might want to also consider adding a simple chat or video option to your website to facilitate clear communications.
Combine projects. If you’re talking to a customer for one project, see if they have other pressing tasks, which you could complete in the same timeframe. Handling multiple projects on the same jobsite is potentially safer, more efficient and could generate additional revenue.
Marketing outreach. Let people know you are open and can help them. If you have customer emails, with consideration of local and state mandates, let them know what services you can provide right now. If you understand social media, post tips and how-to’s in this time of crisis with the offer to help. If you don’t utilize social media, connect online with a younger relative or friend and learn fast. Find blogs covering DIY repairs and post some repair insights with a link back to your website.
Go cashless. You don’t need to physically handle checks, credit cards or cash from your customers if you use one of the numerous digital payment applications. Ask your customers upfront how they would prefer to pay digitally in order to conduct safer transactions.
Sanitize before and after work. As a professional service provider, you should take careful steps to clean and sanitize before, during and after in-home services. In particular, be sure to disinfect the expected work area and commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and light switches, in accordance with CDC guidance. And, obviously you need to wear clearly mandated or even optional safety gear according to local, state or CDC guidelines.
Look ahead. We are going to come out of this crisis, hopefully sooner than we all think. You hopefully will have customers with pent up demand for a variety of projects. Right now, you might want to plan for how you will handle your customers who will all want it done yesterday. Use this time to create network connections with other contractors or professionals you might be able to utilize in the near future to meet this customer demand. And take the opportunity to build your business pipeline by scheduling repairs that are beyond the April 30 mandated shutdown.
While times seem tough right now, this is a large and growing industry in terms of revenue. The United States on-demand home services industry produced over $600 billion in revenue in 2018 and is growing steadily according to a report by the New York Times. Find ways to weather the storm and get ready to go to work.
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