Businesses Transformed by Covid-19 Plan to Keep the Changes

ForAugerPros Plumbing and Drain, having customers confined by Covid-19 yielded an unexpected bonus.

“Everybody going home and hearing a drip or hearing the toilet run — it’s actually increased our business,” said Jerry Schrader, owner of the Dallas-area company.

But that doesn’t mean Schrader didn’t have to reinvent parts of his business just like others with less-happy pandemic stories. Along with stocking up on personal protective equipment such as hand sanitizer, the company started checking all employees for any signs of illness.

“I think everybody just kind of accepted it now,” Schrader said in an interview. “It’s just something that’s in our lives. We’ve learned during this time, and I think a lot of these are good practice to carry forward.”

For many owners suffering business losses during the lockdown, changes are going well beyond adopting new safety measures. At least 10% are beginning to offer new services and almost 20% have started to consult remotely, according to a survey of almost 700 companies by Thumbtack, a website that matches customers and small-business professionals.

About a third of the survey respondents saw revenue holding steady or increasing.

Some companies, such asPeak Cleaning Service in Scottsdale, Arizona, reckoned that changing their marketing approach might help offset declines. Peak lost almost half its customers — vacation rentals — when virus concerns caused travel to dry up.

In just one day, “that piece of our business practically went down to zero,” said Patryk Gawlak, who co-owns the business with his mother, Dorothy.

Peak emphasized in its advertising that a deep cleaning of residences could help kill virus germs. “But there was a bigger concern to not have people outside of immediate family in and out of the house,” Gawlak said.

To quell safety worries, Peak changed some of its operating practices to avoid cross-contamination, including using different cleaning equipment for each house.

The company also switched to more hospital-grade cleaning products and started screening to make sure employees aren’t going into homes with sick people.

Now business is coming back, Gawlak said.

“I think taking a little extra time to be careful with our customers to assure them that it’s clean and safe and all that, we will carry that forward,” said Schrader, the owner of the plumbing company. “I think we’ll be more prepared if this happens again.”

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