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We Can Do Better: Coronavirus Response Checklist for Business Owners and Leaders

Dan Dowdy's Headshot Dan Dowdy Owner, Built for the Trades

“We can do better.” Those four words really say it all.

There are things each of us could improve in our lives, but too often, it takes extraordinary circumstances to get us to acknowledge what we could be doing better and take action and make a change. If business owners and leaders can’t make those decisions when it comes to crunch time, then we’ve got another issue to discuss! But that’s another blog for another time.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve had firsthand experience with the ups and downs that come with being a home services business owner, and I realize that we are in uncharted territory when it comes to leading through the COVID-19 pandemic. Nobody expected something like this to happen. Nobody plans for a country to shut down. This is an extraordinary, unprecedented event, and navigating it as a business owner and leader is something we are all having to learn as we go.

With a 24/7 news cycle and so much information being thrown at us all day long, current events have taken information overload to the next level. So today, I really want to focus on just two things that you can take with you. These two leadership principles are simple and effective — just what we need in confusing, uncertain times.

Mindset & Communication

Check In with Yourself

The first thing I want you to do is to give yourself permission to stop, take a deep breath, and realize that the only things you need to be focused on are the things that are within your control. Turning on the news and running your business in fear like the world is coming to an end will not benefit you. However, ignoring the news and the virus all the way around is also not a great idea.

Here is a checklist that you can use to ensure you have the proper mindset:

  • Maintain Your Morning Routine
    There is no better way to deal with the chaotic world around you than to get back to your routine. Specifically a morning routine. If it’s reading, then read. If it’s writing, then write. If it’s crushing a workout, then by all means, GET AFTER IT. Showing discipline and taking time for yourself every morning will pay dividends for the long-term health of yourself AND your business.

  • Create a Gratitude List
    When you feel that the positivity is lacking, take 15 minutes out of your day and write down the things you are grateful for. Guys, this is not that deep. DON’T OVERTHINK THIS. This could be anything from family, health, faith, friends, etc. Taking this time is guaranteed to give you a whole new positive perspective on life.

  • Brain Dump Exercise
    If you are feeling overwhelmed, try this out! Take a blank piece of paper and list everything that is in your head. Then, next to each item write the letter A for things that need to get done today, the letter B for things that can wait for tomorrow or the next day, the letter C for items that can be done in the following weeks, the letter D for items that you can delegate, and the letter E for anything you can eliminate. Once complete, your mind will be clearer, and you will be ready to take action!

  • Focus on the Present
    The past is the past for a reason. The longer you look back, the longer you’ll stay there. Not only does it do you no good, but it can also have a negative effect on you. I encourage you to live in the moment and focus your thinking on moving forward.

  • Fail Forward
    THIS ONE IS GOOD, Y’ALL! It’s one of my favorite ways to think about life and business because we all make mistakes. The question to ask yourself is are you learning from them? I encourage you to allow yourself to make mistakes and to make decisions, otherwise you may find yourself overthinking and under-delivering.

  • Lead by Example
    People want a leader who is real — not one who’s always right. Now more than ever is the time to be on the front lines as a leader. I encourage you to focus on your company’s core values and lead by them. Be the optimistic leader that is there for the team. Answer questions. State the facts. Encourage your team by letting them know that you support them.

  • Leverage Positive Relationships
    In uncertain times, I encourage you to lean on positive relationships, whether it’s a friend, mentor, coach, or mastermind group…NOW is the time when we can all share a common bond and encourage each other.

Communication Checklist

Almost everyone feels some kind of anxiety about the situation we’re in. As a leader, you have the opportunity and the obligation to keep everyone involved in your business as informed as possible about what is happening and what you’re doing about it.

Here are a few pointers for making sure your leadership team, employees, and customers get their questions answered and concerns addressed.

Leadership Team

  • Disaster Planning
    Stay positive, NOT naïve! Take the time to plan for the worst by writing down the levels of disaster planning for every department in your company. Level 1 may be your normal operations and level 5 being the worst-case scenario. I encourage you to talk about any and every scenario and be as detailed as possible.

  • Slow-Time Checklist
    Create a slow-time checklist for every department and use this time to write procedures, clean the shop and trucks, maintenance equipment, etc.

  • Virtual Leadership Meetings
    Meet consistently (a minimum once per week) via Zoom or some other video chat platform to ensure proper communication.

Entire Company

  • Be Present
    Whether in person or virtual, you must be there to answer questions and lead on the front lines. Leaders are made for a time like this, so ensure your team that you are there for them.

  • Share the Vision
    Take the time to share the vision, mission, and values of your company and reassure the “all for one and one for all” mentality.

  • Disaster Planning
    Take the time to share the leadership team’s disaster plan and get your team’s feedback. Make changes if necessary. This will allow your team to know the plan going forward and be able to prepare.

  • Virtual Town Hall Meeting
    Set a date and time later in the evening and invite your team members and their spouses to a virtual online town hall meeting to answer any and all questions that you have heard over the last couple weeks. Provide resources like your HR company contact and anything else they may need.

  • Virtual Training
    Take advantage of technology and keep the training momentum moving forward. Training is all about momentum, so get after it!

Customers

Marketing to our customers must be from a serving mindset, not selling.

  • Pop-Up on Website
    Add a pop-up to your website letting your customers know that you’re open and the precautions your team is making to protect everyone.

  • Email Marketing
    Take the time to write personal, detailed emails to your customers, letting them know what your company is doing to better serve and protect the community.

  • Social Media
    Post daily. Shoot those videos. Let your customers know that you are ready to serve them!

  • Call Existing Customers
    There’s no better than to call your existing customer list just to check on their health and safety.

  • Screen Customers
    Your #1 concern should be the health of your team, so be sure to screen your customers and ask questions about COVID-19. For example, “Have you traveled out of the country in the last 30 days or is anyone at the home showing specific symptoms?” Realize that all customers will not be honest, so give your team the permission to make the tough decision to refuse service if necessary.

  • Cancellation Requests
    Many customers are calling in to cancel appointments. Do your best to secure the future date and time on the schedule or secure a day and time for the CSR to call them back. Do not leave it up to the customer to call you back.

At the end of the day, we are all going through this together. The good news is IT WILL END. Take this as an opportunity to practice a perspective change. What is this giving you the opportunity to do and focus on? What is this giving you the opportunity to change? To build? It’s how the saying goes: “It is… what it is.” However, you have the power to change, grow, and inspire through it all.

We Can Do Better: Coronavirus Response Checklist for Business Owners and Leaders
About the Author
Dan Dowdy's Headshot Dan Dowdy Owner, Built for the Trades

Dan Dowdy is the owner of Built for the Trades, a leadership development company specializing in trade-specific businesses. He is a Master plumber and has 20 years of experience in the plumbing and leadership field, running a successful home services company. Dan is passionate about his faith, his family, and the outdoors. If he’s not at home with the family, you can find him with a bow in his hand getting ready for hunting season. His goals are to grow others to their true potential so that they may lead others with confidence and passion.

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