The COVID-19 crisis is different from every other crisis the modular housing industry has ever faced. Instead of being a financial crisis like 2008 or a natural disaster like Hurricanes, floods and wildfires, this one is all about the health of our nation and how you respond now will help set the tone for factory employees, modular home builders, their customers, subcontractors and prospective new customers.
They want to know what you’re doing to support the health, safety, and well-being of the community.
Here are 6 things you need to be addressing for everyone you know about how your company is responding to the present situation and what you are planning for the future.
How you’re cleaning and protecting your workplace and buildings
Let everyone that works for you or comes in direct contact with your employees what steps you are taking to ensure you are following new state and federal health and safety regulations.
Steps you are taking to protect your customers
Your customers and prospective customers are probably fearful of what can happen to them and their families since this started. Even those that say they don’t have any fears will be changing some of their past routines in favor of social distancing and non-face to face communication.
You need to spell out what you’re already doing and what you are planning for the future to protect them while still making building a new modular home a great experience.
Has your operation changed since the crisis began?
This may seem a no-brainer question but let’s look at it from another angle. Today your website has to be more than just a static billboard with a “contact us” button. It has to become a 24/7 interactive part of your marketing plan and function as if the prospective buyer is working with you. If you don’t have a CRM program in place for people that contact you, now is the time to look into implementing one.
You need a good plan to address delays
This one has not changed because of the crisis. You need to be up front and promptly tell your employees, suppliers, subcontractors and customers as soon as you learn of a delay. Putting it off for a day or more could snowball into something that could hurt your business for a long time.
If you are a modular builder and your factory shuts down during the crisis and they have no idea when your customer is getting their home delivered, tell your customer immediately. Then let any subs and suppliers that have you on their schedule know about the delay.
Your customers will need to contact you
If you and your staff are working from home, make sure the office phone is redirected to someone. Take turns being the point person.
If a customer, prospective customer, a builder or a subcontractor sends you an email, answer within 10 minutes if possible. A lot can happen if you wait several hours or even a day to return it. Nothing good can come from waiting too long to respond.
Take this crisis seriously!
This isn’t a time to express your personal opinion or joke about the crisis as you will come across as insensitive and unaware of the impact the crisis has on the world and your customer.
When answering calls or returning emails, use a serious tone. There are plenty of subjects you can joke about but this crisis isn’t one of them. Your customers may have serious concerns about COVID-19 and you joking about it or being upset that your personal life is being infringed upon may result in your customer cancelling or looking for another factory or builder.
Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of the ModularNews blog and Modular Construction Industry Observer and Information Gatherer