If you are concerned about maintaining your home service business’ cash flow during COVID-19, you’re not alone. Between customer queries, cancellations, and shelter in place orders, many businesses are unsure how to proceed.
We spoke with Donovan Quesenberry, owner of gutter cleaning business DIV Cleaning Service, to learn about his strategies to retain customers, generate short term revenue, and give back to his community in response to COVID-19. We share his tips, and others from our entrepreneurship community, below.
For additional resources and support, we invite you to join the Jobber Entrepreneurship Group, where service business owners are sharing their strategies and processes during COVID-19.
“We have noticed a slowdown, but we’ve been pretty proactive about not letting it dictate how much work we have on the schedule. We’ve been attacking it head on and are staying busy so far.”
– Donovan Quesenberry, DIV Cleaning Service
Tips for Home Service Businesses to Retain Customers, Generate Revenue, and Maintain Growth during COVID-19
Disclaimer: Before sending any client communications, we urge you to check with your local governments and health authorities to ensure that you are following the latest guidelines to protect your customers, employees, and your community.
1. Build your pipeline with past clients
One of the most important things you can do right now is to focus on your future pipeline. Rather than pulling back, reach out to customers and prospective customers to secure work in the coming weeks and months.
Donovan’s crew has switched marketing tactics from flyers and door hangers to online lead nurturing.
“Jobber lets us see a full list of clients we haven’t interacted with in over a year,” he explains. “We are calling thousands of clients and saying, ‘Hey, it’s been a while. It’s been over a year. Would you like to schedule your gutter cleaning?’”
“Once we let the client know that we’re still in business and we have a way to keep doing business without putting anybody at risk, everybody’s just been thrilled to continue to book with us.”
Action: Use your CRM to filter clients by date of last service. Phone or email clients who have not had a service within the last 6 or 12 months to re-engage them and fill your pipeline.
2. Adjust your pricing strategies to generate short term revenue and retain clients
“We’re switching from a one-off job as our primary source of job to a recurring job, and allowing our clients to pay monthly. That helps us out with cash flow, and it also helps us with client retention,” says Donovan.
“We’re offering fixed prices and a small discount for clients who pay monthly on bi-annual gutter cleaning. This keeps the cash flow going, helps with client retention, and prevents clients from going to competitors. It’s something we’ve always done, but we’re ramping up in light of COVID-19.”
Here are a few examples of pricing strategies to try during COVID-19 that will help generate short-term revenue and retain clients:
- Offer discounts on annual packages to clients who pay monthly
- Offer a discount for customers who pay a deposit now on future services, such as deep cleans
- Be flexible with cancellations: If a customer asks to cancel an appointment, suggest that they reschedule in one month, and offer to call them one week before the new service date to assess the situation
Action: If your clients typically book one-off jobs once or twice a year, incentivize them to book recurring services instead. Learn about creating recurring jobs in Jobber here.
“Keep that pipeline full and don’t go to sleep on your business. Even if you’re on full lockdown, get those quotes done. You’re not banned from the telephone, right? You’re not banned from sending quotes out on Jobber. Everybody’s just going to be watching Netflix. So if you don’t do that, this is actually going to be good for you.”
3. Position your company as a contactless service
If you haven’t done so already, create policies and processes to eliminate all physical contact between your customers and employees.
That includes banning handshakes, training your crew on social distancing, and moving to all-digital operations.
Next up, make sure to communicate these processes to your customers either in an email or video. Learn best practices for communicating with customers during COVID-19 here.
“People want to do business with us because we are amazing. Just quite simply, we do really good work,” says Donovan. “We can utilize technology to overcome their concerns and serve them safely.”
Action: Here are some ways to provide contactless service at every stage of your workflow:
- Use a phone service so your phone operators and sales people can work from home
Provide estimates over video call, or ask clients to send photos
- Send quotes digitally and allow clients to approve them online
- Set firm appointment times so that customers can either leave their homes or safely isolate away from where you are performing your services
- Send invoices digitally
- Encourage customers to pay online instead of by cash or credit card
“Jobber is paperless and you never need to interact with a person. Everything from the work request, to quote, to job, to invoice is done completely hands off, our clients don’t need to receive a single piece of paper from us. Jobber prevents the in-person, but it’s still personal.”
-Donovan Quesenberry, DIV Cleaning Services
4. Look for ways to help your community
Finally, take this moment to look for other ways to help your community. Whether it be through new paid services, such as grocery delivery or virtual service calls, or charitable work.
DIV Cleaning Services, for example, is offering free sanitization of children’s playgrounds.
Donovan has also started a YouTube channel to help other business owners. “My goal is just to help as many people as possible.”
Action: Ask your team and your clients how else you can help. Whether it’s by providing new services or simply being someone they can lean on, we’re all in this together.
5. Apply for – but draw down – a line of credit
If you are in a position to do so, apply for a line of credit just in case. Unlike loans, a line of credit does not need to be repaid until you actually draw it out of the account. By applying for it now, you’ll have the security of knowing that capital is there should you need it.
While you may not end up needing it, access to capital to pay suppliers and payroll can significantly reduce your stress and allow you to make level-headed decisions in the weeks to come.
Action: See our list of government and financial relief programs for home service businesses affected by COVID-19.
“It’s all about attitude. I’m not extremely disappointed because there’s going to be a lot of opportunities. I’m pretty fired up about how I can serve my clients and just new creative ways of marketing. So for me, it’s just like a different type of challenge”
Community is Everything
At Jobber, we are committed to helping home service business owners stay informed throughout the crisis. We will continue to provide resources and information to help your communities, customers, and employees.
For additional resources and support, we invite you to join the Jobber Entrepreneurship Group, where service business owners are sharing how they’re communicating with customers and adjusting their processes. For those industries not directly affected, there is advice around planning ahead and keeping customers informed.