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5 mins COVID-19

4 actions to take now to prepare for COVID-19

Jess
Jess

Trade Software Expert

4 actions to take now to prepare for COVID-19

Last week we ran a webinar with our Founder and veteran Tradie, Dan Pollard, to get his thoughts on what trades and service business owners can be doing now to prepare their business for these turbulent times.

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis is a life changing event. It’s also a catalyst for a large shift in cultural norms, which includes the way we will conduct business both now and in the future.

Many people are feeling lost and the uncertainty can be overwhelming at times, so we wanted to arm you with some actions that will let you take back the steering wheel. There are things you can and should be doing now that will not only help you get through, but set your business up to come out on top once the market picks up again.

So here we go:

1. Take control of your finances

Your number one priority right now is to make a plan. To do this, you first need to understand your financial position. If you don’t know how to work out your finances, call your accountant today.

With a clear grasp on your finances you can work out what it is going to take to keep your business financially solvent. When an economy is in contraction, like it is now, your best survival mechanism is to cut costs. In both New Zealand and Australia, governments have announced substantial relief packages. Make sure you understand what your entitlements are and then make the tough decisions that are going to keep you in business - especially during any period of lockdown.

Get your invoices out and chase any outstanding payments, you can’t afford to be extending your payment terms right now. If you have any jobs that are unconfirmed, incomplete or confirmed, but not yet started, follow them up today. It’s important that you understand what your workload is actually going to be on the flip side.

If you’re a Fergus customer, leverage the reporting tools in Fergus to understand your financial position.

  • The WIP Report keeps track of jobs and is useful for assessing where jobs with recent activity are at, as well as identifying older jobs that have not been completed yet.
  • The Business Activity report pulls data from your Xero account. It allows you to compare your costs across different account codes which lets you distinguish between things like labour and materials.

2. Connect and communicate with customers

Now’s the time to double down on your customer service and engagement. It’s important to pay attention to how people want to be interacted with during this time. That will be the way to keep busy in the future, as we set about a new way of doing business. Consider your options when it comes to things like remote quoting - harness the power of the internet, phone and/or video call people.

What do you need to communicate to customers:
  • If you are open for essential work let your customers know and make sure they know how they can contact you. Email them, leverage your social media channels or even get your admin staff to phone them. A lot of people will be unaware that this type of work is still ok. For more on New Zealand essential services visit go here or here (for plumbers). For more on Australian essential services go here.
  • What work they still want you to progress with once the crisis is over so you can start planning and forecasting.
  • The precautions you are taking around COVID-19 (check out our templates below).
  • Some people may be left disappointed that a job has been left unfinished. Reassure them that they are your top priority once the restrictions are lifted.
  • Expectations around payments and ensuring that you get paid. You don’t want to be offering credit to customers at this time.
Templates to include in your customer communications:

Use these templates to automate your communication around COVID-19 using Fergus and keep the work you can do right now running as smoothly as it can.

SMS template:
Use this template in your [automated SMS reminders]() to let customers that you are on your way.

Hey {customer-name}

This is a reminder that one of the team from {company name} will be there in 1 hour. Please call us on {company phone} immediately if you need to reschedule or if anyone in your household is feeling unwell. Rest assured, we will be taking all necessary COVID-19 precautions to protect you and our team while on the job. Thank you.

Email template:
Reassure customers with a statement in your [email communications]() to them.

As a business, we have put all the necessary precautions and processes in place to protect you and our staff against COVID-19. Please let us know on {company-phone} as soon as possible, if anyone at the job location is unwell so we can work out the best time to reschedule.

For emails you can’t send through Fergus:


Go to Customers in the top menu, then to the ellipsis and select Export CSV. You can use this upload this list into a marketing automation tool (there are lots of free ones - like Mailchimp) or simply copy and paste into the BCC field of your everyday email tool.

3. Demonstrate strong leadership for your team

Now let’s talk about leadership. It’s always in times of pressure that values and leadership matter. Therefore, you need to be communicating to your team that you have a plan and that needs to be a solid plan and you must believe in it and take action. Your job as the boss is to say “we are going to climb that hill, not lie in bed full of worry” this is when you really earn your leadership badges.

So back to action, this is what you need to do. Based on the points above you will have some decisions to make, so this is time to stand up and make the hard decisions and communicate that to your team.

What do you need to communicate to your team:
  • Your plan. Once you know your financial position, communicating your plan with your team will be key. Be honest and let them know where you’re at.
  • If you don’t have work for your team, check in with what each person wants to do around leave. The government subsidies will likely not be as high as their usual income so check if they wish to top it up with annual leave.
  • If any of your team is able to work remotely, enforce that, but ensure you and they are clear on the expectations around availability and output.
  • If you still have jobs to go to, make sure you’re communicating expectations and any new internal processes they need to adhere to.

With Fergus Checklists you can create and attach a set of tasks to Jobs. You can use this to provide instructions to ensure they are meeting new business practices enforced by COVID-19.

Checklist template:

Remember, you set the tone for the company. Earn your leadership badges. Keep up team morale. You can use the Fergus Notice Board to check-in with your team.

4. Increase your efficiency with Fergus

Fergus is Job Management Software that runs your business, your jobs and communicates to your customers. If you want to win work and provide the best customer communication then Fergus is the tool for you to actually lean on and push to the limit.

We really implore you to learn just how much it can do and how it can totally run your business, win work and help you deliver to your customers.

If you are in lockdown, use this time to get yourself set up or to explore features you aren’t yet using. Features like Favourites (these will speed up your quoting like you won’t believe), Checklists and Forms will enable you to increase your efficiency ten fold when we come out the other side.

Finally, work the team at Fergus. While our team is working remotely, we are open and we have doubled our customer success and support functions over the last month. The teams will be running several training webinars and our support team are there to answer your questions.

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