Bruce Davis Sr was the owner of the business Day & Nite Plumbing and Heating Inc which started out in 1986, Bruce Davis Jr joined in 1993 as an apprentice where he was trying to learn more about the trade. He has been through the 9/11 economic slowdown on the sidelines and when the 2008 economic recession struck he was in the manager position. It was quite an ordeal and they have been through it. They have doubled their company size since then and now they are again in the midst of an economic recession. Presently Day & Nite Plumbing and Heating Inc do 40% commercial and 60% residential. The commercial part is done on time and material basis and residential is done on a flat rate basis.
The distinction between 2008 and 2020 recession on the home service business
In 2008 the recovery of the home service business was unpredictable. Business owners could not definitely say when things would get back to normal. Moreover, the business getting back to normal was slow.
The jobs happening in 2008 were more on the commercial as compared to residential as they had to keep it operating. The downside to it was that the margins had reduced and the techs were not happy working but they had to do it as it was better to be out there on the location and working rather than staying back at home. The margins might be low but the business needs to keep going.
Whereas in the 2020 recession the situation is quite predictable as the home service business would get back to normal as soon as lockdown or shelter in place is over. The feeling is quite different right now, people have got the feeling that things are going to get better in a quick time.
The common denominators of 2008 and 2020 recession
- One common aspect of both the recessions is lack of work, home service business, and the techs were looking at a drop in the work.
- Laying off people is another common factor but back in 2008 the number was quite high, a big chunk of people was losing jobs but right now in the present recession some people are told to stay at home until the lockdown and some can work from home, which was not the case back in 2008.
The top 3 changes that Bruce had made to his business back in 2008 to overcome the recession
- Analyzing each and every expense that goes in for the business operations. Scrutinizing each and every detail and asking questions “ Is this something that our business really needs? “. Trying to look into requirements that would come for a lower price with the same quality.
- The predecessors who ran the business were sticking on to vendors even though there were other vendors who were providing the requirements for a cheaper price. The reason for this was because of the close business relationship they had for years.This was something that Bruce sorted out.
- Staggering shifts was another strategy which helped them in some cost savings as keeping full labor even on days when there were no jobs was meaningless and this was something that helped him to avoid labor drought once the situation got back to normal.
Some of the challenges in running the business
- Keeping the techs busy during these times is going to be a tough task for many of the businesses
- Being available to some of the customers is a challenge because of shelter in place.
- Some businesses arrive at a situation where laying off is the only option that they are left with
In such situations, there are two factors that one majorly needs to focus on –
- One is being positive about it, being creative on how to tackle this situation, or at least be on the survival mode.
- The second one is about taking control over what is in your hands and what you can do about it and letting go of the things which are completely not under control.
3 Business tips for home service owners to operate during this period
- First and foremost is understanding the environment and the situation that the pandemic has put the businesses in. Taking the right steps to ensure the safety of the technicians and the customers are going to be very crucial.
- Speaking out to the customers through emails, through the radio about the safety measures that your business is taking up builds up the confidence and trust of the customers. Situations might rise up when one of the technicians and helpers is not wearing gloves and that might lead to negative reviews.
- Service management platform like SmartServ helps in getting the job estimate approval done without contact. This is something very much appreciated by the customers.