COVID-19 is a national emergency. Our lives are changing rapidly as the weeks progress, and it is critical we remain vigilant and prepared for the situation. Our industry will be impacted significantly - consumers and businesses are entering unforeseen territory. Our partners and customers are already slowing down or losing business.
It's hard to predict where we will end up a few months from now. We may need to go undergo severe restructuring and there may be difficult times ahead. The key is to act now, decisively, in order to prepare for what may happen next.
- Allow the back office to work remotely or work from home (WFH)
- Not every employee can WFH. You may need to reserve space for people unable to work from home. If possible (1) space people out at least 6 feet (2 meters) (2) remove communal food and eating. People should either bring in their own food or get individually wrapped food if possible. (3) ensure proper sanitation of work place and availability of cleaners for hand washing. This may shift if the government gets its act together and mandates work from home for non-location-essential work.
- Wipe down work areas regularly. There is some evidence suggesting the virus may stick around for at least a few hours, if not more, on surfaces. You may also want to wipe your phone down on a regular basis.
- Cancel events. It is wise to cancel group company events.
- Zero tolerance sick policy.
- You may ensure all employees have paid sick leave if feasible. This is especially important if you still have people in the office and do not want sick employees coming in to make their payday.
Comfort Your Customers
- Maintain great hygiene. Provide masks or gloves for your movers if you can, and let customers know that you will come prepared. Train your movers accordingly.
- Provide hand sanitizer and contactless customer service. Is it possible to leave a good impression on your customers by giving them a bottle of hand sanitizer? Can you get documents signed digitally rather than in person and use virtual & video estimates?
- Comfort them. Your customers may be deciding right now whether or not to continue with their scheduled moves. This could be your chance to let them know the precautionary steps you are taking, with an email, or even better, a phone call.
- Remain flexible. Allow customers to reschedule moves and be flexible on cancellation policies or deposits. The trust you establish now will pay off in the future.
Dealing With A Potential Downturn
- Expect slowing growth. As a moving company, this may feel like an extended winter season.
- Customers may cancel moves last minute or take longer to close. Can you front load payments, take deposits, or find other ways to make up for lost customers in terms of locking in cash?
- If growth slows, your movers will unfortunately have less work to do.
- Are there other tasks that have been waiting for labor within the warehouse, the trucks, or the office?
- Are there health agencies, pharmacies or other organizations nearby that may need hard working laborers?
- Can you secure storage jobs more aggressively than before, in order to preserve cash flow during these times?
- Can you invest in education or training for your movers and staff?
- Reduce marketing. You might need to rein in customer acquisition spending to maintain consistent returns on marketing spending. With greater economic and fundraising uncertainty, you want to consider raising the bar on ROI for marketing spend.
- Remain optimistic. As with all downturns, we will eventually break through. Our customers will have bottled up demand that we can tap into once this is all over. People always need to move.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan ProgramSBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
Business Response Guide
Explore whether you can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others if state and local health authorities recommend the use of social distancing strategies. For employees who are able to telework, supervisors should encourage employees to telework instead of coming into the workplace until symptoms are completely resolved. Ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple employees who may be able to work from home.