COVID-19 has changed the way the world operates. With shelter in place orders across the US—and countries on lockdown—the mechanics of the world are forever changed. Tragically, this has forced countless businesses to shut their doors. People are out of work, with little to no opportunities for new employment.
As a small business owner, this is a serious challenge. Perhaps the greatest you’ll face in the lifespan of your company—one both unseen and unheard of, with no troubleshooting prompt available. Let’s focus on the positive: companies are adapting, 43% of consumers want to hear from businesses regarding COVID, and with great difficulty comes great opportunity.
This quick guide will explain a few ways in which you can help your in-home services business navigate through the quagmires of COVID-19.
In-Home Services: How To Navigate Business During COVID-19
As an in-home service provider, your job is to help your community. People may rely upon your business to live their day-to-day lives, stock up on resources, and maintain their health. Given the nature of coronavirus, those who are most “at-risk” may likely be in your care. Where it’s personal care, shopping, housekeep, meal prep, or assisting in transport to nursing facilities—all your processes are now subject to change.
Additionally, if you’re a personal trainer, childcare professional, tutor, pet groomer, personal chef, or personal shopper, you fall under this category, too.
In which case, if you’re no longer capable of being “in-home,” how do you keep running your business in the age of social distancing? And with the ever changing safety practices, what are the best ways to ensure sanitation and efficiency?
It’s time to get virtual, get informed, and take every precaution necessary.
Going Virtual, Providing Value
While some services require you to be on-site, is there a way you can provide value from afar? With so many companies switching to Zoom, Skype, and other video conferencing platforms, you might be able to provide your expertise through digital means. This will take a bit of creativity, so let’s run through an example.
If you’re a personal chef, consider the following:
- Set up a personal “in-home” class online: If your clients had previously relied on you to cook their meals, can you give them a step-by-step cooking class? Use Zoom or a similar platform and set up your computer (or even your smartphone) in the kitchen. Encourage your client to do the same. Now, take them through every step of the meal prep and cook alongside them. They still have a personal chef, it’s just cloaked as a cooking class.
- Provide value for your in-home service: Can you get even more creative with the way you’re going to provide value to your clients? For instance, could you do their grocery shopping for them, using Instacart, curating and delivering every ingredient they’ll need for their home-cooked meal? This is one way to still deliver on the services of “in-home,” just from afar. Additionally, you could identify their grocery needs for the month, mitigating the hassle of them having to go to a grocery store or buy produce themselves.
- Appealing to COVID-19: Outside of continuing to contribute your services, can you appeal to the current climate? Given the reduction in physical exercise and mobility, a personal chef might provide consultation on a new dietary regimen. This could be a healthier, reduced-fat meal plan to ensure that your clients’ diets adapt with their necessary lifestyle changes.
While the examples above are specific to being a personal chef, it’s this type of creativity and pivoting that is what’s helping in-home service businesses adapt. Remember, there are ways to create value from afar, even if that’s coaching someone through how to do what they’ve hired you for.
If You Must Remain In-Home, Stay as Safe As Possible
The reality is that, despite the shelter-in-place orders, you might still have to visit your clients’ homes. Perhaps your in-home service isn’t capable of going virtual and your clients rely upon you as a resource to go about their everyday lives.
If that’s the case, safety practices are your #1 priority.
For instance, consider the below:
- Evaluate whether your client (or anyone inhabiting the home) is at-risk: Is your client at-risk? According to the CDC, those who are high-risk fall into the below criteria:
- Older than 65
- People living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- People with chronic lung disease
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised
- People with severe obesity
- People who have diabetes
- People with kidney disease
- People with liver disease
- People with serious underlying health conditions
By identifying whether or not they’re at risk, use your best judgment. If someone is high-risk and you’re delivering groceries, then you’d want to ensure you’ve been as sanitary as possible, leave the groceries somewhere they can get disinfected, and stay as far away as possible. With someone who isn’t high-risk, you could practice social distancing, wear a mask and gloves, and help them sort their groceries.
- Practice safety measures: If you’re providing your in-home service, it’s best to be in your own room, away from everyone else in the house. According to the CDC, the following are best practices for staying safe:
- Avoid sharing any personal household items
- Wear a facemask (or something that covers your nose and mouth)
- Wash your hands with soap and water for over 20 seconds—multiple times a day
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
- Clean every surface that you’ve touched with cleaning sprays or wipes
- Use freshly cleaned clothes when you’re at their house
Additionally, what are the extra processes you can enforce to ensure safety and sanitation? Is that working in a different part of the home? Preparing something beforehand so you spend less time in the home?
Get The Word Out, Create Value For Your Community
If you’ve found a unique angle and pivoted—whether that’s tutoring online or offering your services from afar—it’s time to update your customer base, or even expand it. If you don’t have a digital platform, there’s never been a better time to create one.
With various website builders and digital software companies offering their services for free, creating a bare-bones (or even a fleshed-out) website doesn’t require an extensive knowledge in coding. Today, it’s easier than ever to get started and create a digital storefront.
Regardless of what inputs are available to you, consider the below:
- Update your customers – Whether it’s email, social media, or your website, it’s paramount that you take the time to update your customers on what’s going on. If you’re migrating your platform online, tell them why and explain your new service offerings. Highlight what you’re doing to stay safe and effective during this time, and how you can help them.
- Market your new or existing offering – Offering personal training lessons on Zoom? Delivering all the ingredients for three homemade meals directly to a person’s doorstep (6 feet away)? Are you rolling out a new initiative to help the community? There is still customer demand for your in-home services, even if that’s just your expertise. Consider using email marketing strategies, engaging customers on social media, or personally contacting your clients to explain the changes you’re making.
- Start a conversation – Your clients rely on your in-home service business to help them manage their everyday life, manage their schedule, and open up time they could spend elsewhere. If you’re no longer capable of providing your service—it’s likely they miss you. Start a conversation and ask them what their current pain points are. Perhaps, through these conversations, you’ll be able to identify certain ways you can pivot and be of service to them.
In order to stay afloat, you need to adapt. You need to find ways in which to remain of value to your clients. That’s why it’s time to get creative and problem solve.
COVID-19 Tip: Consumers are leaning towards companies that are leading with compassion. Those that are giving back to the community are being heard and praised. If you’re pivoting your in-home service offering, consider what you could do to make an impact. Perhaps you could offer free consultations to those in need? Donate a portion of your proceeds to help a relief fund?
Nextdoor, The Neighborhood Hub
As an in-home service business, you rely upon your community and locals to help you with word-of-mouth marketing. On Nextdoor, by creating a Business Page, you can join the local conversation and promote your business. After one recommendation is posted for your business, you’ll be discoverable through search; the more recommendations you garner, the more visible your business will be when local customers search for your services.
How can we help you navigate these difficult times?
By plugging you into the community, you can join the local conversation. Promote your new offering, reach out to local businesses, and even target specific neighborhoods.
Nextdoor neighbors have become more connected every day that passes. This is not an easy time for most businesses, and for in-home services it’s disproportionately difficult. By working to adapt, embrace change, finding new angles, and being there for your community—you may be better positioned to survive this era.
If you are a local business, claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. Resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers during coronavirus, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, are available in our Small Business Guide for Coronavirus Relief.