By: Kimya Cajchun, ACCA Director of Events & Benchmarking
Forty-seven ACCA members participated in a COVID-19 Impact & Implementation Survey with Industry Insights, ACCA’s benchmarking partner. Industry Insights released the survey to all of their clients to gain a nation-wide response covering various industries including: oil, food, healthcare, industrial products, academia, retail, heavy equipment, HVACR, and more. The survey ran Monday, March 16 to Wednesday, March 18 and the results are in. An overview of data points follows below. Click here for a detailed Executive Summary.
More than 70 percent of respondents expect the medical implications to last up to three months. “In February our entire installation dept was out due to respiratory issues. 3 of our techs ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. All were out for at least a week while others for the whole month. Looking back, it may have been the coronavirus,” stated one respondent. Another wrote, “I’m worried about long term economic effects on customer spending and general level of fear / resistance to spend money currently. Worried will impact team members in an economic manor.”
Even for companies that haven’t experienced similar staffing illnesses, COVID-19 translates into long-term business viability concerns for 65% of respondents. And of the companies concerned, 9% have major concerns that their businesses might not survive. This is a real concern as expressed by one respondent, “As a small company, with only 2 service techs and 3 install crews, not having the personnel to service/install can make a huge impact on billings even over a short period. Compound that with customers that are afraid to have you in their home and the possibility of an employee(s) becoming sick is frightening. If new regulations for paid sick leave are put in place, we might not be able to meet payroll. With no new income coming in, monies will run out. Tax credits at the end of the year will not help small businesses with day to day expenses.”
To address staff and client worries, the vast majority of companies have implemented some new procedures due to COVID-19. In addition to adding hand sanitizer and canceling large events, many have started work-from-home programs and increased office cleanings. There is a distinct difference between larger companies and smaller companies, with smaller companies only having about 10% of employees working from home. Some are capitalizing on services already provided, “We have offered video consultations for homeowners for about a year, and I expect these will pick up now. Also, we're having our technicians wash their hands both when they enter a house and when they leave. We realize that anyone--the tech or any homeowner on his or her route during the day--could be infected, so we want to interrupt it, if possible.”
On the supply side, 32% of companies reported supply chain delays and this affected contractors more than distributors. One participant commented, “All of our staff (except the warehouse agent) have worked remotely for about 10 years, so we were better positioned than most companies. However, we have to worry about supplies, customers allowing us in their homes, people being both willing and able to spend money, and having enough able-bodied technicians to deliver service.”
One of the most interesting data points is the number of companies without a formal disaster plan in place – nearly half. Larger companies are more likely to have a formal plan in place. These are key to calming fears and business operations. One respondent mentioned that they will be working on their contingency plans over the next week.
The COVID-19 Report show us that ultimately, ACCA members are responding appropriately and are working to ensure their businesses, employees and customers thrive during this crisis. And as usual, the HVACR industry is proactive. One respondent mentioned, “We are screening incoming service calls as to health issues in the home being serviced and more stressing the need for indoor air quality needs for the home.”