Cool heads prevailed at Rescue Air Heating and Cooling when the Covid-19 pandemic began spreading across the United States. Company founder Josh Campbell vowed to assess the situation quickly, make firm leadership decisions and safely keep the doors open.
Today, the Dallas-based team, which includes 14 technicians, is operating under new safety guidelines—but the bottom line hasn’t seen a significant downturn.
Here are a dozen ways Campbell has been able to manage the coronavirus landmines, maintain customer confidence and keep his employees out working in the field.
1. Inspire team confidence with strong leadership.
Campbell acted quickly and communicated his vision to his team when the coronavirus news first hit. Employees were scared and confused. They were looking for leadership and inspiration.
“I took a firm position,” he says. “I let everybody know we’ll take all of the necessary precautions. We’ll listen to doctors. We’ll protect our team, our employees and our customers. But we’re going to keep running the business. We’re going to keep moving because we don't have a choice. It could last a month. It could last a year. We don't know. I said we’ll plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
2. Combine leadership and vision with a personal touch.
Along with communicating a vision to the whole team, Campbell sat down with employees one-on-one. He asked them to express their personal thoughts and fears. It was eye-opening.
“I was surprised by the responses I got,” Campbell says. “There were guys who were scared who I didn’t think would be. Guys were worried about a lot of different things. Luckily, we could directly address 90 percent of their concerns. So, we did that, and worked through various issues.”
3. Initiate a companywide version of the “Mitch Mentality.”
Rescue Air managers are walking the talk of social distancing and hand washing. They’re promoting the idea that everybody has to do these things in order to watch each other’s backs.
One of the team members is named Mitch. His sister has Stage 4 cancer. The whole company is aware of it. But at one of Rescue Air’s early-in-the-pandemic meetings, some younger employees said they weren’t concerned about the virus because they didn’t have older or at-risk people in their lives.
Campbell said: “You know your buddy Mitch over here is pretty worried about this thing right now. The response was, ‘Yeah, well, he’s got to.’ And I said, ‘What if you get infected, and you infect Mitch? Doesn’t that make his sister vulnerable?’”
That sunk in, Campbell says, and led to heightened empathy and what they now call the “Mitch Mentality.”
“The Mitch Mentality is that you operate as if your own sister has Stage 4 cancer and you’re trying to protect her life,” he says.
4. Answer the office phone with confidence.
Campbell implemented a rule that you answer the office phone with the greeting: “Rescue Air—we’re Covid-prepared.”
“It deflates that balloon right away,” he says, “and lets people know the company is on top of safety procedures.”
The Rescue Air team also very bluntly—but professionally—asks potential customers if they are sick, or if anybody in the house has been sick within the past two weeks. Campbell says customers appreciate the question.
5. Go the extra step with a video that communicates your preparedness.
After a maintenance call is scheduled, Rescue Air sends a video to customers. The video covers a multitude of safety precautions.
“We address things that are challenges for our team,” Campbell says. “We’re working in somebody’s house. Kids running around. We say, hey, under these circumstances, we don’t want to interact too much with you. It's funny and candid. We show that we’re putting up plastic barriers for installations. We’re taking them to the ceiling so that we can separate our install from you and your family.”
6. Use a fogger to clean service vehicles.
Realizing that service vans could conceivably have tools in them that carry the coronavirus, Rescue Air decided to use a fogger every day on their trucks.
“Our duct-cleaning machine has a fogger,” Campbell says. “It's an antimicrobial fogger. Every morning, one of my parts runners goes through every truck with a mask on. He goes through every service vehicle and fogs and sterilizes them.”
7. Use ServiceTitan’s platform to do inventory.
These days, when Rescue Air technicians finish their day a company team member does the inventory. It’s one more way to create a sanitary work environment inside the vehicle, and Campbell adds that using the ServiceTitan platform to do the inventory is win-win.
“When techs drop the truck off at the end of the day, we do their inventory for them,” he says. “It’s less work for them to do. All they have to do is pick up their box in the morning. And, it’s actually a way more efficient process.”
8. Implement a staggered work schedule.
Seven days a week, the office staff works on a staggered schedule to avoid congestion. “It looks like a shoestring crew at any point in time,” Campbell says. “We have less people here at any given time, to keep things sterile.”
9. Cross train at the managerial level.
Campbell says the management team realized the company would be in trouble if two or three of its leaders got sick at the same time. To protect against that, some managers are maintaining higher degrees of separation from each other. And they are cross training on responsibilities.
“We’ve put our leadership into groups of three,” he says. “And we’ve determined who can pick up other people’s jobs. We cross train, and we planned ahead on who can or cannot go down simultaneously. That would be a problem, but we’ve strategized on how we would handle it.”
10. Focus on marketing to previous customers.
Campbell is a huge fan of using the marketing budget to lure back previous customers. It’s smart, cost-efficient and leads to higher revenue streams, he says.
Rescue Air is using ServiceTitan Marketing Pro to reach out to previous customers. “We signed on like two months ago,” Campbell says. “In the last few weeks, people are home. The open rates are way higher right now on emails. People have time to look at it.”
11. Know that local newspaper advertising is highly effective.
Reports of the death of newspaper advertising are premature, Campbell says. “Print is alive and well right now,” he says. “We’re getting the best numbers we’ve ever gotten coming back off little local newspapers—because people are at home reading this stuff,” Campbell says. “And there’s only half the advertisers in the book because so many cancelled out because they’re not running their services at the moment. Local newspapers are fantastic—a huge win for us.”
12. Do free estimates and extended financing.
Sales close rates are high for Rescue Air for several reasons, one being that the company offers free estimates. Homeowners don’t want a lot of people coming to their house right now, so folks aren’t seeking multiple estimates.
“If you can get your salespeople in the door—boom, that’s a sale these days,” Campbell says.
He adds that the company is also open to extended financing.
“Six months, no interest and no payments,” he says. “We’re offering extended financing to ensure that people have cash on hand and things are going as well as possible for them in this critical time.”
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive HVAC business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.
Ready to learn more about what ServiceTitan can do for your business? Contact our team to schedule a demo today.