As a Canadian plumbing company, you have no doubt been impacted by the safety measures instituted across the country, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Plumbers are being affected to varying degrees. While plumbers are considered an essential workplace and are allowed to remain open, some plumbing businesses have decided to limit their hours of operation and services, or close their doors altogether for the time being.
Whether your plumbing business remains open or is temporarily closed, it's critical that you define a COVID-19 communication strategy. Now more than ever, people want clarity. People want to know what they can expect. There are two audiences you need to consider - your employees and the consumers you serve.
Some plumbing businesses have closed- not because they wanted to- but because their employees have refused to work due to safety concerns. Others have altered their operations due to management being proactive in anticipating and addressing employee concerns. It's critical that you communicate with your employees that you have given consideration to their safety and well-being, and have a plan to navigate through these trying times.
While COVID-19 has arguably shut down the economy, it hasn't stopped the need for plumbers. Consumers still need plumbing installation, maintenance, and repair services. As consumers reach out to plumbers, they are no doubt running into companies that cannot accommodate them the way they could a few weeks ago. If you remain open for business, it is important that you communicate to consumers what they can expect. Help set their expectations with clear and concise messaging.
The following are a few key communication points you should consider. We will go through them one at a time, then we will provide you with a sample communication message you can use for your plumbing business.
One of the first questions consumers will have is "are you open for business?". Plumbing businesses across Canada have taken different approaches. Some remain open and offer full service, while others are only providing emergency services. Others have completely shut their doors for the time being. Start by letting consumers know if you are open.
If you are open for business, have your hours changed? Some plumbing companies have reduced their hours to accommodate their workers. If you have changed your hours of operation, it is important to communicate this to consumers to help manage expectations. Were you providing service 7 days a week but have now reduced it to 5 days a week? Were you providing 24 hour service but have now reduced hours? Ensure you clearly communicate your hours of operation.
What other changes have you put in place? For any plumbing company that has remained open, one of the main things that should change is the safety precautions you have in place to protect both staff and customers. Let consumers know how you are handling on-site visits, so they know what to expect and feel safe and confident in your approach. Here are a few of the things you will want to consider/address:
Once consumers know you are open for business and are comfortable with your safety precautions, it is time to call them to action - tell them how they can get started. Should they pick up the phone and call? Complete an online form? Give direction by telling them how they should interact with you. CTA's are a marketing best practice and they're more important than ever, as consumers have a lot on their minds. What may appear obvious to you could be the difference between a consumer contacting you versus a competitor. So tell consumers what they need to do to get started.
The following is a sample COVID-19 message that contains all the elements noted above. You have our permission to copy and edit this message for your plumbing business.
As a plumbing company, [YOUR COMPANY NAME] is considered an essential workplace by the [INSERT YOUR PROVINCE NAME] Government. As such, we will remain open to serve residents and businesses that require plumbing services.
Please note that our hours of operation have not changed. We are still available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
While we will continue to provide complete plumbing installation, maintenance, and repair services, we have implemented many safety precautions to protect our staff and you - our customer.
We are following the guidance of local, provincial and national authorities, including:
We are closely monitoring COVID-19 (coronavirus) in [INSERT YOUR MARKET NAME] and surrounding areas - to ensure we are taking the necessary preventative measures to limit its spread and impact. We will adjust our safety precautions as necessary.
When booking appointments, we are consulting with customers to ensure the required work can be completed in a safe manner. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like us to take additional special precautions, we encourage you to let us know before booking an appointment. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will adapt our safety procedures as necessary.
What can you do:
Stay informed with tips and advice from local and provincial authorities, and the Government of Canada to help minimize the impact of COVID-19: Canadian Coronavirus website
If you have questions or concerns, please contact us - we are here to serve you!
Wishing you much health during these unprecedented times.
Once you've drafted your COVID-19 message, the next step is to share it with consumers. But what is the best way to get your message out to the market? Share your message through the marketing channels you regularly use. Below are some channels you can use, and how to use them.
Your website is one of your most important marketing assets, and should be one of the first places you share your message.
While there are different ways you can share your message on your website, we recommend a simple two-step approach that will help ensure every visitor to your website will see your message. The first step is to create an announcement bar that appears at the top of each web page. The second step is to link that announcement bar to a new web page that contains your COVID-19 message.
The reason you need to put your message on every web page is because not every visitor to your website will land on the home page. Visitors come to your website from various sources and can land on any page of your website. An announcement bar is a quick and easy way to ensure you get your message in front of everyone regardless of what web page they land on. The announcement bar should contain a short message that encourages people to click to learn more.
When someone clicks on the announcement bar they should be taken to a web page that contains your COVID-19 message. This page can be formatted the same as your other web pages. While this page will be temporary in nature, be sure to follow on-page SEO best practices. That means you'll want to give some brief thought to the page URL, page title, page description, content, media, and links. We mention SEO because it is a best practice, but don't let it stop you from getting your message out to your market.
Here's an example of a plumbing company in Durham Region, Ontario that has utilized this method: www.vaillancourtplumbing.ca
In addition to your website, one of the most important places to update your hours of operation and overall COVID-19 messaging is on your Google My Business (GMB) listing. If you haven't claimed your free GMB listing or aren't aware of what it is or why you need it, now is the time to get started. You can learn more at business.google.com
There are a few ways you can use your GMB listing to get your message out. Below are two we recommend you implement:
If you utilize social media for your plumbing business, you'll also want to update your social media accounts with your COVID-19 communications. The way you go about this will depend on the social media channels you use. Here are a few recommendations that can work on most of the leading social media platforms:
Last but not least, is email marketing. If you have an email list, you will probably know how valuable it is. Now is the perfect time to utilize your mailing list to keep leads and customers up to date with how your plumbing business is operating during these times. Your email list is a great way to stay in touch on a regular basis. You do not want to inundate people with emails, but do not be afraid to email your list with pertinent information.
Whether you are open or not, it is important to communicate the status of your business to consumers, along with what they can expect. If you haven't already drafted a COVID-19 message for your plumbing business, now is the time to do it. Don't forget you can copy the message we have provided above and customize it to your liking.
I believe one of the most important takeaways is this - do not sugarcoat things and be honest. We're living through an ever-evolving situation. Your messaging does not have to be perfect- just timely and honest.
We wish you much success during these unprecedented times, and hope this article helps you on your journey.