Trades professionals: How to manage service calls amid COVID-19

With Governor Steve Bullock’s shelter-in-place directive extended through at least April 24 — and the federal government’s social distancing guidelines taking us through at least the end of April — it’s clear that business-as-usual will not be returning anytime soon.

We’ve previously published Coronavirus safety guidelines to follow across the trades, but we want to address measures specifically for plumbing and heating companies. In our business, knowing how to manage servicing calls amid COVID-19 is essential. Here are several measures we’re taking — and which we recommend for all service providers in our industry — to ensure the safety of our service technicians and our customers.

Pre-screen customers for COVID-19

It is essential that you protect your service technicians from infection. Before booking a job, pre-screen your customers with the following questions. If customers answer Yes to any of these questions, service may be denied and delayed for a minimum of two weeks — as determined by the service technician.

1. Have you traveled to an area with known local or international spread of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?

2. Have you, or anyone in your residence, come into close contact (within 6 feet) with someone who has a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the past 14 days?

3. Have you experienced a fever (greater than 100.4 F or 38.0 C) OR symptoms of lower respiratory illness such as cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing in the past 14 days?

Make daily check-ins on the health of your technicians

It is also just as essential to protect your customers. Check in with your technicians daily for updates on their health, to ensure that your team isn’t spreading the virus to each other or to customers. For guidance on best practices when a technician is presenting symptoms, use a decision tree like the one below.

Equip your technicians with proper safety equipment

Equip your service techs with PPE and disinfectant to ensure they are prepared to serve customers safely. The equipment should include:

  • Respirators
  • Body suits
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Sanitizer

Sanitize your fleet

It can be easy forget that we must keep our service trucks and vans sanitized, too. There are many ways to sanitize the interiors of vehicles. The use of UV lights, for example, is a standard cleaning method for healthcare professionals, and is equally effective for removing germs from service trucks and vans. 

Convert to digital signatures

When visiting homes, we must limit physical contact and the potential for infected surfaces. Converting to digital paperwork and signatures will help. Equip your technicians with tablets, and instruct them to wipe down the device after every job.

Limit visits to the main office whenever possible

Shelter-in-place should also apply to our tradespeople — as much as possible. More visits to the main office means an increased risk of infection across your service team; help technicians stay safe by enabling them to go straight from their homes to the homes of your customers.

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