To ensure your business is ready to succeed long-term, you must be prepared to manage the inevitable changes that will come your way. This holds especially true for unexpected, sudden changes—like those caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
The pandemic has impacted nearly every business around the globe, causing everything from company shut-downs to overwhelming product demand and a shift to remote working. Few industries are more affected than the deemed-essential cleaning industry—and few industries are providing such inspiring examples of successful adaptation.
Here are some of the most inspiring adaptability lessons from the cleaning businesses that are forging ahead in the face of COVID-19.
1. Recognize and Respond to Customers' Changing Needs
In times of significant transition, it’s critical that you look at what’s changing for your customer and re-think how you can best serve them. Roman Peysakhovic, Co-Founder of Onedesk, has been responding to new client requests that veer from his company's typical tasks.
"While our primary business has been servicing offices on an on-going basis, we've recently received an influx of cleaning requests from workplaces that are looking for one-time deep cleaning to sanitize their workplace due to concern of COVID-19 presence in their offices."
Onedesk has also adapted their tools and processes to make sure they give their clients what they need. "As part of our cleaning measures, we've adapted to these demands by ensuring that our cleaners are using products that meet EPA's criteria to disinfect against the coronavirus."
2. Find Ways to Help Your Community
Genuinely connecting with your community is a powerful way to build trust, loyalty, and name recognition. When it's no longer possible to do business as usual, find a way to operate that serves those in need. This is what SERVPRO has done, says Chief Marketing Officer, Michael Stahl:
"We've had SERVPRO franchise owners throughout the country offering to disinfect and sanitize emergency vehicles and other facilities being utilized by front line workers like police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and more. The majority of these services have been offered at no cost as a way to give back to others on the front lines, protecting us all from this pandemic."
As Stahl suggests, this isn't only worthwhile because it's good for business—it's worthwhile because it's the right thing to do. "We believe we are all in this together, and offering this service is just one way we can help take care of our own during this trying time."
This can also help give your business a new stream of revenue in the future. "Moving forward, our teams are working with various small businesses in their communities, such as restaurants, retail stores, and more, to offer our ‘Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned’ certification to give customers peace of mind that the facility has been deep-cleaned and sanitized."
3. Never Stop Marketing
No matter how many things may change, one thing never will—marketing is always necessary, especially during a crisis. Your marketing platforms allow you to connect with customers while better understanding what they need. Ty Anderson, Vice President of Maid Right, explains how his company reaches his customers with marketing during COVID:
"Because Maid Right uses proprietary disinfection solutions for both our Enviro-Mist and Eco-Lab cleaners, Maid Right has pivoted their marketing to help families stuck in their homes and offices that have emptied out."
But don’t stop there. Make it personal, as Maid Right has done: "Some of our owners are going the extra mile and giving out small bottles of Eco-lab disinfectant to their recurring customers as a way to help them stay healthy in between routine cleans … Recurring customers make up the bulk of the business. And during a period where customers are afraid to have people in their home, it's all about retaining their services."
Use marketing to communicate, build trust, and show how much you value your customers no matter what the circumstances.
4. Take Advantage of Modern Technology
Cleaning services may seem like a low-tech, in-person style business. However, their response to COVID-19 has showcased just how helpful modern tech can be, regardless of the industry.
Liz McKee highlights how Stratus Building Solutions has done this: "You can interview our local cleaning experts via ZOOM, SKYPE, or Facetime. We are happy to demonstrate a re-opening cleaning and disinfection with props in your newsroom or at a local business."
This allows them to still service their clients' needs while respecting social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Stratus also shows us how you can bring your current skills and offerings to the digital world in another way simple yet impactful way:
"As businesses re-open, they're in a frantic scramble to clean and disinfect, so employees and customers stay safe. We’ve developed the COVID-19 Clean, Disinfect & Re-Open Battle Plan, to help businesses plot a safe and healthy re-opening."
5. Adapt to Your Employees' Needs
No matter how responsive you are to the market, you can't get the job done if your employees aren't supported. Home Clean Heroes has taken their employees’ wellness needs to heart during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to President, Joe Delatte:
"Home Clean Heroes has taken additional measures to support staff members and franchisees,” including paying employees for 35 hours per week, despite lessened business. They've also instituted a liberal sick day policy, allowing employees time to recover with peace of mind.
Home Town Heroes is also working hard to keep employees safe on the job itself. "Upon arrival, employees will inquire about any self-quarantine or sickness in the home and have been instructed to cancel or reschedule service if they feel their health is at risk. Fees are being waived for customers who cancel service outside of the normal notification window."
Cleaning Businesses Offer Valuable Lessons in Adaptability
Even in times of relative calm, businesses need to be ready to adapt at a moment's notice. The way cleaning businesses have handled the unprecedented amount of rapid change during COVID-19 makes them stellar examples of adaptability. Thanks to their valuable lessons, you can be confident that your business can not only survive in times of change—it can thrive.
Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org
Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.