Abrupt changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have had detrimental effects on many industries. Some won’t be able to shoulder the financial losses of a full-on economic shutdown, but others are remaining relatively unscathed. Many of those who survive will do so because they were better prepared technologically for a work-from-home environment.
One example of a company that is thriving is WyattWorks Plumbing. Andy Wyatt, owner of WyattWorks, and his son Seth Wyatt, operations manager at WyattWorks’ Charlotte, N.C., location, transitioned quickly to a remote work environment, with the help of ServiceTitan’s all-in-one home services software solution.
From what they’ve seen so far, WyattWorks is cautiously optimistic about the outcome for the trades, which are among the essential businesses exempt from stay-at-home orders.
But quick response was necessary. To keep employees safe, the office staff has been working from home and the techs no longer go into the offices. With ServiceTitan software, Slack, and Zoom for meetings, the WyattWorks team is working remotely across the board.
Here are some of their top takeaways and thoughts on the impact on the trades surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak:
It’s possible to transition your team to work remotely overnight.
WyattWorks went remote very early, transitioning their call center staff to work from home quickly.
ServiceTitan software made the transition to online and remote work easier. There has even been chatter internally about the new systems being so effective that they could get rid of their shop completely and have all employees work remotely.
Having one system that does everything online and is easily accessed from anywhere in the world is a major selling point for WyattWorks and made the changeover for their offices and staff in the field effortless.
“ServiceTitan and the technology behind it, with the phones and everything, made it very, very easy to split,” Andy Wyatt says. “I mean, imagine if we were on paper and phone? I mean, it would just be horrible.”
Being proactive rather than reactive is a less painful approach to dramatic shifts in the world economy. While it’s impossible to predict every scenario that could impact your business, there are many ways that a company can be ahead of the curve.
For WyattWorks, the infrastructure in place because of ServiceTitan software allowed them to adapt quickly.
“We've been doing this digital stuff all along, not realizing that it would be very possible to scatter, which we did,” Andy Wyatt says. “And when we scattered, it still worked.”
Not having to exchange receipts, cash, or paperwork, for example, has also been helpful for the company’s social distancing efforts.
“So if a guy goes and buys fuel with a company credit card, he snaps a picture with his iPhone and sends it (to a dedicated email),” Andy Wyatt says. “Our bookkeeper takes the digital image, in her house, and drags it into QuickBooks, logs it as fuel, truck No. 5, boom. It's done.”
ServiceTitan has also focused on other features and improvements that aid remote workflow and efficiency since the outbreak began, understanding the challenges customers face.
Call volume increases when people are home more.
While it may seem counterintuitive ahead of what some experts fear could be a deep recession, consumers are spending money on home improvements.
“A lot of people are home, and so that results in a lot of people just spending more time observing their surroundings at home, having more time to get things fixed,” Seth Wyatt says. “So it's really kind of general, everything we normally would get, but I think people are just actively doing it now because they’re home.”
From leaky faucets to emergency calls, people are finding time to get their minor and major home projects addressed.
Wyatt also noted that more time at home means that people are using their home plumbing systems more than before. That increased usage equates to a higher number of service calls for the WyattWorks team.
“We had a record-breaking week last week,” Andy Wyatt says. “For us, we did over $100,000, which is a lot for us in one week, and we're just plumbing service. We're not doing air conditioning or big units. This is all very small repair stuff. Those are a lot of faucets.”
Scheduling conflicts and traffic delays are nearly eliminated.
With everyone sheltering in place, the need for complex scheduling timelines has been almost eliminated.
“We used to have to balance this stuff, and when are you going to be home from work, and it might cost this much if we come late at night,” Seth Wyatt says. “And now it's anytime — I'm home.”
Extra precautions during in-home visits are required to keep everyone safe.
According to Seth Wyatt, most homeowners haven’t hesitated to have service technicians enter their homes once they have safety assurances.
They aren’t requesting that technicians don full hazmat suits to come into their houses, but the WyattWorks team has implemented guidelines to help keep staff and customers safe.
Precautions they are communicating include using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as nitrile gloves, masks, and shoe covers for home visits. Hand sanitizer is being used, and technicians are spending extra time wiping down surfaces when out on calls.
And the technicians are working remotely as well, to distance them from other Wyatt employees.
“Everybody takes their trucks home at night,” Andy Wyatt says. “All the techs (are) totally isolated.”
Screening isn’t just for technicians, it’s for customers too.
Keeping customers and employees safe should be the top priority for everyone right now. Making sure that no one is showing signs of illness or has been near someone with symptoms is now a standard part of every service request.
“Does anybody show signs and symptoms, fever or cough, or have you been in contact with anyone who has shown those symptoms? Those are the questions (WyattWorks CSRs) asked the customer. So we're screening,” Andy Wyatt says. “And then they're putting a note in ServiceTitan that they've been screened.
“The technicians have confidence that we're taking care of them.”
WyattWorks has also confirmed with their technicians that if they show symptoms and need to self-quarantine that they will be compensated for the duration of their quarantine. Knowing that getting sick doesn’t mean you go without a paycheck helps to keep people who are sick at home and not out in the field to make ends meet.
Your technicians can go remote for some services.
Going remote for smaller projects is just one way WyattWorks is trying to adapt.
Some people in dire straits still don’t want a technician in their home, so the company is tinkering with offering some technician services via FaceTime.
“We would show them how to go shut their water off, and do that as a service possibly,” Andy Wyatt says.
That innovation could become more common.
“I think there's kind of a sense of preparation in case the economy or this virus goes way beyond what we think it might do and we do slow down, that we've got some sort of cushion and we're prepared for it,” Seth Wyatt says. “So there is a sense of caution right now, I think a little bit. And hustle at the same time.”
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