Its been almost two months since Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued his order banning all large gatherings and closed schools throughout the state. All nonessential businesses in the state were ordered to close soon after.
Vito Services – a Plumbing and HVAC home service company located in Rockville, Maryland – was deemed an “Essential Service” and has remained open and operational ever since. Similar to several other essential companies, Vito at first was overwhelmed with all the information and details about operating during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thankfully, the health and safety of all Vito employees, customers, and the community we serve were always put at the forefront of all company planning. Now, after two months of working through the pandemic, Vito Services has established a daily protocol to help us succeed each day. We firmly believe that these steps have helped keep our team and customers safe.
While our new daily protocols have allowed us to continue to operate safely through COVID-19, we believe many (or all) of these procedures may become standard protocol for Vito Services even once the state is fully reopened.
Plumbing and HVAC workers have been deemed “critical infrastructure workers” by the Department of Homeland Security because they “provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plumbing and HVAC services are not a luxury, they are a necessity!
That being said … operating as an essential service in a COVID-world was a new experience for us and came with a lot of uncertainty. How can we stay open and operate? Do we close the office entirely or allow some employees to come in? Can our CSR’s work remotely? How do we set up employees to work from home and ensure they are able to do their jobs? Do customers still need us? Do they even know we’re open?
Then there were the technicians.
Do customers want our technicians in their home? Do our technicians feel safe working in people’s homes? If so how do we keep them both safe?
Vito Services has now worked for almost two months through the COVID-19 pandemic, without any incident or employee getting sick. We are extremely thankful to be able to say that and work hard every day to ensure it stays that way.
We’ve attributed much of that success to our Daily Safety Checklists, which we have continued to build and grow over the past two months:
When a customer calls to schedule a service with Vito our CSR’s have been instructed to ask a few basic questions concerning COVID-19. Each call is different, but the basic questions our CSR’s aim to have answered include: “Is everyone in your home healthy?”, “Has anyone been sick?”, “Has anyone knowingly been exposed to coronavirus?”
We used to ask about international travel, but no longer do.
Takeaways: At first, we were hesitant to vet customers about the health of their homes as this seemed intrusive, out of line, or just plain rude. But once we started asking questions, we learned two things quickly:
While we always tried to conduct Morning Huddles between managers and technicians, that was not always the case pre-COVID. But since the pandemic started, we now have virtual Morning Huddles each day. These meetings (sometimes in groups, but mostly one-on-one) are devoted to going over the technicians’ calls for the day. But they also have given our managers an opportunity to check in on how our technicians are feeling – both physically and mentally – and a time to share all their concerns about the job and beyond.
Takeaways: Technicians are brave. Not just Vito technicians, but all technicians. While Vito Services has gone above and beyond to make its employees feel safe and comfortable – by having them work remotely or by staggering office shifts – technicians cannot work from home. To do their job technicians have to be in the field and, most often, must come into your home. Being able to discuss their concerns and make them feel as comfortable as possible has gone a long way towards helping our technicians feel safe and motivated.
Vito Services has always taken pride in its cleanliness, from the shiny cutting-edge tools we invest in, to the bright wraps on our trucks, to the crisp and uniformed appearance of our technicians. But this pandemic has taken the need for cleanliness to a whole new level, and our technicians now sterilize their trucks and equipment AFTER EACH CALL.
In addition to our standard foot booties, all Vito Services technicians now keep on gloves and a mask the entire time they are in customer homes.
Takeaways: In speaking with several customers we found that most feel much better knowing their technician is wearing a mask. They also prefer the technician to keep on their mask the entire time they are in the home, prefer paperless invoicing, and usually have a preferred route for the technician to come in and out of the home.
Vito has had to adjust many of its policies during COVID-19. While we always adhere to the state and CDC recommendations, our main focus is making sure our employees and customers feel safe. Things we have now made standard operating procedure:
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tough challenge for everyone. As an Essential Service, Vito Services has remained open and working through the pandemic and – thankfully – has remained operational and healthy. From the very start, we have been committed to the health and safety of our employees, customers, and community, which is a large reason we have been able to safely navigate through these unchartered waters.
In addition to the Vito Services Daily Safety Checklist, we have made several other changes to meet customer needs for a contact-less experience. Vito Services has been a paperless operation for several years, and now just require e-signatures on invoices. In addition to adding a “Virtual Consultation” option, we also have invested in a larger scale virtual appointment application, which will allow our customers to schedule appointments through our online booking service, and are adding an online payment option to our website to simplify that process.
While Vito Services has been proactive in promoting the health and safety of our business, we understand that the steps we have taken (as described above) are not perfect and are constantly examined and scrutinized every day. While no procedures can be 100% full-proof against a highly contagious virus, we believe these steps have allowed our business to stay open, and our employees and customers to remain healthy while feeling good about our company and the services we provide.
Since the start of the state lockdown, Vito Services has remained open as an Essential Service to those in our community who need us. We have tried to accommodate all customer and employee concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and, so far, have been successful in doing so. If you require our services, please know that we are here for you. The seasons are changing, and with that comes issues with your plumbing, heating, and cooling systems.
During the current rain season, we are offering reduced Sump Pump checks and will soon be offering AC Inspection deals as now is a great time to have your air conditioning unit inspected. We have extended our discounts due to coronavirus (including a standard 10% discount and waiving all service fees) and will also be helping several of our customers re-open their offices and stores once the state and county lockdown has been fully lifted.
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