The HVAC industry has been designated as an essential industry during the COVID-19 Pandemic. It has been a daily challenge to work (or run a business) through it all, and how we do our jobs has changed significantly in the last month. As we continue to work through this, it is imperative to stay safe and healthy, especially when our customers need us in their homes.
We understand people are fearful of allowing someone they do not know into their home. Giving homeowners peace of mind by telling them in advance of the safety precautions you have taken as a company is key to alleviating some of their apprehension. Here are some recommendations to follow to keep everyone safe during home service calls.
Practice Proper Hygiene
- DO NOT shake hands with coworkers or customers.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 20 seconds. The CDC recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
- Throw away the tissue immediately and wash your hands.
- Technicians should disinfect their vehicle and cell phone multiple times a day.
Ask the homeowner questions in advance of the service visit. A “yes” answer to any of the questions can result in the service visit being rescheduled to a later date:
- Have you or anyone in your family/home been sick or been exposed to someone who was sick in the last two weeks?
- Have you traveled in the last 14 days? (looking for air travel and/or to another country)
- Have you been asked to self-quarantine by your employer or a government agency?
It is okay to ask them if everyone in the house is healthy. This is also a good time to inform them as to the safety procedures that your technician will be taking: i.e., mask, gloves, safety glasses, shoe covers, uses of disinfectants, not shaking hands, etc.
PPE for Technicians
- Follow CDC guidelines for Social Distancing
- Keep a minimum of 6’ distance from others at all times
- Once you knock on a customer’s door, step back to give the customer distance to open the door
- Only one Technician per vehicle
- Contracts and other documents should be signed electronically if possible.
Handling Calls When an Occupant Has COVID-19
- A face mask and gloves are mandatory at all times when working.
- Techs must choose and wear the applicable PPE based on the specific situation and material label requirements. More PPE is always acceptable.
- Customer-facing employees are required to wear disposable gloves at all times, changing them between customer stops.
- Put gloves on as soon as you stop your service vehicle and remember to follow CDC recommendations to not touch your face while wearing the gloves and performing service. When you arrive back at your vehicle, sanitize the items you used while still wearing the gloves; Remove the gloves by inverting them inside out and dispose of them (or sanitize them if they are reusable).
- Shoe Covers are mandatory for inside residential services.
A regular maintenance call is not an emergency. It is the choice of the individual or company if they want to perform maintenance calls where there are no symptoms or COVID-19 cases in the home. For emergency situations, use caution and follow all guidelines.
Remember that you are disposing of masks, gloves, filters, etc. that have had potential contact with COVID-19. Please dispose of these items appropriately, by placing them in a garbage bag, sealing the bag, and carefully putting the garbage in a trash bin. Always wash your hands after handling trash.
Communication is Key
Now is the time to use forms of communication that are not as prevalent in the HVAC industry. Get on social media and let your customers know if you’re open, and what your hours will be until further notice. Or that you’re closing temporarily, but available for emergency service or whatever you choose to do. Either way, try to be positive and reassuring.
Clearly communicate to customers and employees about what you’re doing to keep your staff and your customers safe. Send out an email with this information and other helpful tips, like what to do if their AC or heat goes out.
Going Above and Beyond
Going the extra mile with your customer will go a LONG way these days. Simple things like being aware of your surroundings, keeping your distance, or bringing a mask for your customer when you arrive to the home send a message that they are your priority. You could even order small travel size hand sanitizer and leave one with your customer when you go!
Here are a few items to customize with your company's information to help you prepare your customers for home visits, and to reach out to your customers and let them know what you are doing during this time:
COVID-19 has affected the whole world, and we are in this together. We are all trying to make the best of a difficult situation, and helping our neighbors is one of the best things we can do right now.