Carpet Cleaning Business Offers Lesson in How To Pivot for COVID-19
The world is changing around us. Or at minimum, the COVID-19 pandemic can make it seem like that.
Before the Coronavirus outbreak, Reeves’ business was 90 percent residential. Carpet cleaning. Grout. Upholstery cleaning. Wood floors. Now? Like the world around us, everything has changed.
“We've been doing all commercial stuff,” he said.
That pivot didn’t come without planning. Reeves said Certified Clean Care, the first carpet cleaning business to switch to ServiceTitan software, started thinking about a possible disruption about three weeks ago.
“I was still like, is this real or not? Is this something to be concerned about?” he said.
Like all home services companies, the Coronavirus outbreak is forcing changes.
Meetings with his staff moved from a conference room to a larger space in the shop, to encourage social distancing. And aside from discussing the work, Reeves gave employees updates from the CDC and elsewhere, and checked on their state of mind.
And he talked about how they would pivot the business.
“Right before this blew up for us, we saw, hey, we're probably going to experience some hardships as far as residential,” he said. “We need to pivot our company to disinfection treatments. That honestly has kept us busy last week.”
Instead of residential customers, Reeves’ company is giving those whose work is essential, even life-and-death, more peace of mind. Certified Clean Care is sanitizing doctors offices, the hospital and other businesses, with technicians applying disinfectant and an antimicrobial barrier.
But one thing really hasn’t changed.
“Pretty much if you sit on it, walk on or sleep on it, we're cleaning it,” Reeves said. “We're used to wiping things down, janitorial, mold, remediation, all those kinds of things.
“We were working different hours and doing a different service. It's still our wheelhouse though.”
Being nimble helped.
“We don't know what's coming,” Reeves said. “Thankfully as a small business, I think we can move really quickly. We have 15 people here, so we can make some quick moves if we need to.”
Home services limited to emergencies, with precautions
Residential service has stopped, Reeves said, except for emergencies. In those cases Certified Clean Care follows CDC guidelines.
“We still do residential,” Reeves said. “We did a post today about, hey, we have a new curbside drop off. No contact. Pickup and delivery for rug cleaning that we're willing to do. Then we also said residentially, we're open.
“We're trying to be respectful. We're open for residential carpet cleaning on an as-needed basis, just so people don't get the wrong idea that we don't respect and care about what's going on right now.”
Reeves even took inspiration from a friend—a fellow ServiceTitan customer—in the HVAC industry in Athens. The timing was good … and terrible.
“Right after this all happens, my wife calls me and says, ‘Hey, the air conditioner is not working,’” Reeves said. “I'm like, ‘Oh great.’ Let's not have it all come down at the same time.”
Reeves’ wife relayed the precautions the HVAC company would take, including asking if anyone in the house had been out of the country in the previous three weeks, how payment could be processed without a face-to-face interaction and more.
Reeves has incorporated some of the same measures.
“We're learning every day,” he said. “We're looking at what you guys (at ServiceTitan) are putting together. I think it's been amazing, the resources.”
“I mean, it's the same thing we've always been focused on, clean, healthy, happy environments,” Reeves said. “But it's just a little bit more urgency and importance I guess in this time of need.”
Reeves is trying to be ready for whatever comes.
“We haven't talked about offering decontamination services for residential houses yet,” Reeves said. “I'm looking at maybe pivoting into that. But right now my mindset was, hey, let's look at the bigger commercial facilities.
“We're just trying to set up for when everything comes back, really strong, businesses are ready to open again. There's going to be a huge wave of cleaning that needs to be done.”
Pivot from residential to commercial
How did Reeves pivot from residential being 90 percent of his business to a new plan so quickly? He was proactive. With Athens under a shelter-in-place order for a week, Reeves anticipated what was coming.
“We've definitely seen a big drop in residential services, just because people are being encouraged to stay away from other people,” he said. “So we saw that coming. Our commercial cleaning thankfully, has stayed steady.”
Certified Clean Care is also gaining clients by making calls. The message is that it’s a great time to clean and sanitize before they open again. That has resonated.
“Our CSRs are amazing,” Reeves said. “They're working from home through ServiceTitan, which we're really grateful for. Other than that we're just taking it one day at a time like everybody else.”
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There are still some incoming calls.
“We got a call from the Sheriff's office,” he says. “Nobody knows what to call anything. They're just like, ‘We need a deep clean. You guys do a deep clean?’ We're like, ‘Does it have to do with the virus?’ They're like, ‘Yeah, somebody's spouse has it.’”
Certified Clean Care to the rescue.
“Those people, they're essential,” Reeves said. “They can't NOT come to work.”
Demand has also come from businesses that have shut down, including an Athens YMCA, have asked Certified Clean Care to do cleaning and decontamination to prepare them for reopening.
“America's awesome,” Reeves said. “We're going to bounce back from this. We believe that 100 percent.”
Another source of commercial business: Reputation
Even more commercial work has come from familiar sources aware of Certified Clean Care’s reputation.
“Now is really going to be a time where those people that we have taken care of over the years will really be there for us,” Reeves said.
One of those relationships led to an opportunity—and a touching moment at an uncertain time.
Certified Clean Care has had a maintenance contract with an Athens hospital for years, Reeves said, part of their existing commercial business before the Coronavirus outbreak.
Those doctors, nurses and hospital workers are crucial to fighting COVID-19, so they have to work. But with schools in Georgia, like everywhere else, closed to prevent further spread, they needed a place for their kids to go.
“They called us and said, ‘Hey, because schools are shut down, we're having to turn an admin building, third floor, into a daycare. So we need you to come in and do what's called a terminal cleaning.’” Reeves said.
That’s a wipedown of everything and cleaning and sanitation of carpets, to make it a safe environment for kids.
Every night, Certified Clean Care does another cleaning of the space.
“We're super grateful for that because that keeps some of our staff at least getting a few hours a day,” Reeves said.
But they are not the only ones who are grateful. A note left on a desk at the makeshift daycare confirms that.
“Thank you for your part in keeping us healthy,” it said. And it was signed, “The Kids of Daycare.”
“That’s why we do what we do,” Reeves said. “(It) hits the heartstrings.”
Resources for the trades
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