Louisville Contractor Builds In-Truck Handwashing Devices
The Coronavirus pandemic didn’t hit Kentucky as early as it did on both coasts. But when it struck, Louisville-based Tom Drexler Plumbing, Air & Electric was prepared.
Company project manager Kaita Renwick says local government sent messages that the contracting industry took seriously.
Her company immediately responded to one of the basic COVID-19 safety messages by creating a portable device that gave field employees constant access to proper handwashing.
Tom Drexler Plumbing, Air & Electric also came to the rescue of in-need community members. And, Renwick reports, the company hasn’t seen any dip in business.
Here are a few of the company’s success stories:
Creating homemade hand washing stations
When the Coronavirus arrived in Kentucky—on a slightly later time frame than other parts of the country—there was a mad rush for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
At first, company technicians got gloves and hand sanitizers. Renwick says the company also made a bleach spray for the techs’ tools, and gave techs drop clothes to lay the tools on to spray them.
That wasn’t the company’s only innovation.
“We had to make our own hand sanitizer with alcohol,” Renwick says. “Kentucky makes a decent amount of alcohol, so we used grain alcohol to make our own sanitizing spray.”
Tom Drexler, the company’s namesake owner, then decided to go one step further. He helped design portable hand washing stations for company technicians. The company even created a folksy video showing how anybody could build a makeshift-but-effective prototype.
“When this COVID-19 thing first happened, everybody was scrambling around trying to figure out how to keep our guys safe and keep them in the PPE they needed,” Drexler says in the introductory section of the video. “All I kept hearing was wash hands, wash hands, wash hands. I felt like some of the guys out in the field were limited to do that. So, we came up with an idea so they can wash their hands in the truck.”
Renwick says the technicians love the devices—and are constantly using them.
The design is simple. “What they did was, they took 5-gallon buckets and drilled holes in them and put a spigot in it,” she says. “And they have a metal bracket on one side for hand soap and a metal bracket for paper towels.”
At the end of Drexler’s video, you can see him and a team member standing behind one of their trucks putting the handwashing station to use.
Renwick adds that the boss has been very hands-on with innovations such as the handwashing station, as well as with morale-boosting leadership.
“Tom has been sending out weekly pep-you-up messages,” Renwick says. “We use ServiceTitan’s texting section in the content portal to make sure everybody gets them.”
She says his notes say things like, “You're doing a great job, everybody’s needed.” And, in a recent issue of the local newspaper, he ran a full-page ad with a company photo and text that read: “You’re the real heroes and thank you to everybody for working.”
Coming to the rescue …
Renwick says the company faced a specific safety dilemma in early April when an elderly woman called and said she had no working toilets in her home. She also said her husband had recently passed away—and that she had tested positive for Coronavirus.
Renwick says the woman claimed she’d called every plumbing company in Louisville and none would risk coming out.
A thoughtful discussion ensued at Tom Drexler Plumbing, Air & Electric. Eventually, a drain technician volunteered to go to the house to assess the situation. The tech was supplied with a contamination-proof suit and a respirator. A long list of safety procedures was addressed.
When the tech got to the house, he determined the problem could be addressed from the roof.
“Luckily, they were able to figure out pretty quickly that we could do this job without any contact with the woman,” Renwick says.
Still, it was a #TradesShowUp moment.
ServiceTitan benefits in the pandemic age — and beyond
Despite the pandemic, business at Tom Drexler hasn’t decreased. In fact, year-over-year call volume and revenue are both up.
Lead calls have increased by 27 percent from last year. As of the last week in March, the company had 159 more scheduled jobs on the books than it did at this point in 2019, an increase of 14 percent. March revenue also saw a bump.
How did that happen?
“We were using ServiceTitan Phones Pro before this crisis, and that made it pretty easy and seamless to have our CSRs and DSRs start working from home,” Renwick says.
She adds that the company is also putting ServiceTitan Marketing Pro to good use. “We use a lot of the Marketing Pro, as well as direct mail, our website and texting, to send messages about the safety precautions we have in effect,” she says.
Over the course of the coronavirus crisis, the messaging has evolved.
“It’s changed a little bit,” Renwick says, “from we’re doing everything to keep you safe … to this is specifically what we're doing to keep you and our technician safe … to this is how you can help us keep you and the technician safe.”
The company is also having CSRs collect payment information up front (whenever the customer is comfortable with that) and use the customer portal to pay invoices. DocuSign has been huge, too, Renwick says.
“ServiceTitan does have a lot of online options,” Renwick adds, “and we’re pushing that training to technicians a little bit more right now. Instructional guides. Walkthroughs onto the content portal.”
There’s also the COVID-19 Playbook for Contractors—a collection of best practices.
“Hats off to our team for adopting a little bit more technology,” Renwick says. “I do think that this has pushed them a little bit. They’ve now got a lot more experience and knowledge about using ServiceTitan. This is going to make them even more confident moving forward.”
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