2020 has presented more obstacles to small business owners than anyone could have imagined. Despite adversity, there’s been no shortage of inspiring stories—from restaurant owners who found unique ways to add outdoor dining to retailers who quickly pivoted to selling online. But there’s another group you might not think of who have risen to the challenge while risking their health on the front lines—home service professionals like plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, and contractors.
Home service professionals have had to adapt their businesses and forge ahead to keep their businesses safe and functioning. As a service professional sending employees or yourself into homes for clients in need of repair services, it’s important to take extra precautions and follow guidelines like those set by the United States Department of Labor. While safe work practices must be your top priority, you also have a business to run—and one that has likely seen a drop in non-essential jobs and increases in upfront costs such as for purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
To help keep moving forward, we put together six ideas for how contractors and home service professionals can further cut costs and implement best practices during these trying times.
Offer Contactless Payment Options
Mobile payments are a fast, secure way to accept payment of services when you’re always on the go. Many field service technicians prefer mobile payments as an easy way to take credit cards right from their phone.
Think about adding contactless payment technology at the same time. Whether you start accepting digital wallet payments for a true NFC contactless experience or choose to take credit cards over the phone rather than in person, it’s a good idea to offer contactless options for customers who might want to minimize interactions.
Automate Billing and Invoicing
Paper invoices are a time sink, and now more than ever, you don’t have time to mail invoices, wait for payment, and watch for checks to clear. You might even have customers who aren’t comfortable exchanging physical paper. Solve all your manual billing problems when you switch to electronic invoicing and online payments. It’s convenient, secure, and a simple billing software will also help you keep better track of which customers have paid, so your books are always accurate.
Find Out if Your Business Qualifies for Level-3 Processing
Did you know if you regularly process transactions over $5,000 or work for other businesses or government agencies, you could be over-paying on your credit card fees? B2B and Level-2, Level-3 processing can be confusing, but it might be simpler than you think to save at least $10.50 per $1,000 processed. Read our B2B Payment Processing 101 blog to learn more about optimizing your interchange rates.
Promote Your Business Online
There’s a good chance your word of mouth advertising isn’t driving as much business as it was before the pandemic. Your loyal customers probably aren’t attending cocktail parties and school ice cream socials where they used to brag about your quality work. With colder weather coming soon, any social engagements they are attending will likely start to slow down even more.
This makes it a great time to take your online presence up a notch. 88 percent of consumers research online before they make a purchasing decision. Consider launching a simple website or starting a Facebook page so new customers can find your business online. Whether you start diving into reputation management and digital marketing or simply remember to post something for Small Business Saturday, transitioning your business online will help you get ahead.
Keep Track of Employee Efficiencies in the Field
Do you know how long your sub-contractors take for lunch or how much time your crew spends driving between jobs? You’d be surprised how much more efficient your employees could be and how much that could impact your profitability. Whether it’s a simple discussion with your site managers to brainstorm ideas, or testing out a time tracking software, optimizing your current processes is a great way to make a dent in operational savings.
And of course, don’t forget to consider employee moral when you’re looking at productivity. This year has been tough on everyone, and sometimes a simple gesture like bringing coffee to your team can make a big difference. There are other good ways to increase employee job satisfaction—such as increasing their pay frequency—that can have a big impact and are easy to do with the right payroll solution.
Prepare for the Slow Season
Ensure you have enough cash on hand by securing a term loan or line of credit now. COVID-19 doesn’t care that you need a new truck—so it might make sense to consider an equipment loan. Our business capital experts will talk you through a variety of no obligation financing options, so you can determine if one is right for your business.
Interested in our full suite of payment and business solutions tailored to home service professionals? Learn more.