How Coronavirus Is Impacting Remodel, Contractor & Home Service Industries
We interview four design professionals about how COVID-19 is affecting their businesses.
The economic impact of coronavirus in Arizona has been devastating to retail shops, resorts, restaurants, tourism and many other industries. Jobs lost since mid-March are nearing the half-million mark. Arizona workers have been urged to stay home, however there are several exceptions known as ‘essential businesses,’ such as those who specialize in home remodel, contractors and home service trade industries. Recently, we spoke with several professionals who work in these essential services about how COVID-19 is affecting their businesses, and how they’re overcoming. Here’s who we talked to:
Simone Bumpus, a design associate at Kitchens By Good Guys, a kitchen remodeler in Scottsdale.
Jason Fischbeck, owner of Automated Environments, a smart home installer in Mesa.
Pat Overson, a roofing contractor with Overson Roofing in Mesa.
Ray Dal Soglio, a garage door installer with A Always Open Garage Doors in Scottsdale.
PH&G: What has changed in your industry due to Coronavirus?
Bumpus: Because we are general contractors there are many different trades and vendors we are used to interacting with on a daily basis. Most showrooms and vendors are closed which makes purchasing products challenging, while adding longer lead times due to factories being low staffed. Even though the construction industry is considered essential, we’re having to navigate through how to get products and building materials to complete open jobs or start new ones.
Overson: Our biggest hurdle has been being able to have our sales team have the face to face opportunity to build a working relationship and to show our potential customers our value. Like most companies out there we have had to think quick on our feet and the solution we have come up with is utilizing software that allows us to provide virtual quotes. Our salesmen can have the conversation with our potential customers about their roof without setting foot inside their home. It has proven to be the best solution during these times and is allowing our employees to be safe as well as our potential customer.
Fischbeck: We have had projects delayed. We have people leery of us coming into homes. Employees can be afraid to work because they don’t want to potentially get their family infected. Those are the main things that have changed.
Dal Soglio: The industry overall has stayed pretty consistent and stable with coronavirus.
PH&G: Is business slow, busier or about the same?
Bumpus: Business has slowed down for us; more than anything we are noticing a delay or a pause in momentum. People are still interested in doing projects and planning for future work, they are just more cautious now because of the uncertainty.
Dal Soglio: Business has stayed the same for us during this time. The majority of our work is emergency garage door repair and that hasn’t slowed down. People still need their garage doors to work properly.
Overson: We have seen a decrease in leads in the past week, however, we are fortunate that business is still steady.
Fischbeck: Business is mostly the same as it was. A little less busy but we still have a good chunk of work coming our way.
PH&G: What does the future look like? Do you anticipate a surge of business over the summer?
Bumpus: We are extremely hopeful for the future and a surge for the summer, which we are already starting to see. Because people have been home so much, they are thinking about what they’d like to change. Surprisingly, we have seen quite an influx of leads even in the past few weeks. It is as if people are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Dal Soglio: The future still looks okay for us even with summer approaching. Summer is our slow season with the part-time residents gone and more people traveling away from home.
Overson: Monsoon season is usually a busy time for us because homeowners need their roofs repaired. However, COVID-19 may cause people to choose to wait for us to take care of their roofing needs this summer.
Fischbeck: Our outlook is very optimistic. We are ready to hire other technicians once things pick up.
PH&G: How are homeowners reacting to this crisis?
Bumpus: We’ve seen quite a variety of reactions. Some clients who were just about ready to close on purchasing new homes are now waiting until the stock market calms down. We had some clients not be bothered by it at all and have continued with the process. We had some clients who traveled quite a bit and didn’t have the time, but now are home and wanting to move forward.
Dal Soglio: Homeowners have been more grateful for us coming out and helping them during this crisis. They also appreciate the extra steps we are taking to keep everyone safe.
Overson: We have found that some homeowners are taking social distancing very seriously and do not want to open up their front doors to speak to our salesmen or superintendents. Others have chosen to not take social distancing too seriously and our team is having to gently remind them that we are practicing social distancing guidelines.
Fischbeck: Most are not phased but some clients don’t want anyone in their home. We respect those wishes.
PH&G: What assurances do you give customers?
Bumpus: We are informing current clients on any delays if we expect them. Really it comes down to staying connected and working through the challenges together. We have been fortunate to complete our projects on time or early during this.
Dal Soglio: We now offer a no-contact door-repair service. The customer can give us access to their garage and we will diagnose the problem and take payment over the phone and then make the repair, clean up and leave without ever meeting the customer.
Overson: Our roofers are encouraged to wear a mask on the job and we require supervisors and staff to follow the 6-foot social-distancing guidelines.
Fischbeck: We tell clients that we would not expect to send someone sick into their home and, in turn, we hope our customers will also respect the safety of our employees and tell us if they are feeling sick.
PH&G: Do you feel lucky to be an essential business?
Bumpus: We’re extremely fortunate to still be working. Our employees still have a job which they’re all extremely grateful for, and we have projects in the works to keep the business running. The only downfall to being considered essential is you’re still allowed to be out working, possibly being more exposed to the virus. We did take the step to have our team work from home during this time whenever possible.
Dal Soglio: Yes, we are very fortunate to be an essential business able to still operate during these uncertain times.
Overson: Our team feels very blessed to be considered an essential business.
Fischbeck: Absolutely, it allows us to continue serving and selling the products our customers.
PH&G: Are you using any new virtual technology on the job?
Bumpus: Listening to the recommended social distancing, we have held off on person-to-person meetings as much as possible. We’ve been using video calls to do virtual meetings and more email interactions to keep the process moving forward.
Dal Soglio: We now are using email and online invoicing to allow the customer to pay without coming into contact with our workers. This helps keep customers and our employees safe.
Overson: We are utilizing our existing software in addition to new software to assist us in providing virtual quotes.
Fischbeck: A lot of our products allow us to service and help a many of our clients virtually. We sent one of our customers a router the other day and used video conferencing to help them set it up.
PH&G: Does it seem like people realize their homes need a remodel/refresh/some sort of work now that they’re forced to stay inside for such a long period of time?
Bumpus: Yes, because people are now home for extended periods of time, they are now thinking more about projects they would like to start. People are also on social media more, getting ideas and inspiration for their home.
Dal Soglio: Yes, with everyone home more, people are realizing their door is in need of service. But with money being tight for most people, we haven’t seen an increase in business.
Overson: We feel that people are taking advantage of the time they have at home by spending quality time with their families but also by taking the time to get their roofing issues or concerns addressed.
Fischbeck: I think it has made people consider their environment more. Customers who are looking for upgrades and trying to think about ways they can improve their home.
PH&G: Have you had to reduce staffing due to this pandemic?
Bumpus: We’ve been very fortunate that we have not lost any of our employees. Our team has been very understanding and patient with the changes we are all experiencing right now. Our team is working hard to stay positive and do everything we can to be prepared for the rush when life gets back to normal.
Dal Soglio: Fortunately, we are a small family business with only a few employees. We have enough consistent work so we don’t need to lay anyone off.
Overson: Fortunately, Overson Roofing has been able to keep our team working. We have a dream team and we will do everything we possibly can to keep it this way.
Fischbeck: No layoffs.
We know that this is an unprecedented time. However, we want to let all your readers and our community here in the valley know that Overson Roofing is truly grateful to be a part of this great city and we are doing our part to slow the virus and still provide an essential service. We cherish each one of you whether we have worked for you or not.