In the midst of the unprecedented uncertainty facing the country, it is imperative for businesses to develop action plans and be prepared to adapt them as circumstances change. The coronavirus provides a unique challenge to businesses as it is difficult to project an end date and the situation is in constant state of flux.
To help remodelers unsure of how to craft a plan of action and response to the global pandemic, Bruce Case, president and CEO of Case Design, shared steps his remodeling company is taking to protect the health and well-being of his team and clients. The steps can also be used as a comparison or reference for companies with existing response plans and business continuity plans.
Team communications. Since February 27, Case has deployed five company-wide communications to team members outlining action items as the crisis evolved in the Washington, D.C., metro area. The first communication advised team members to stay educated, practice strong personal hygiene, remain physically strong, and work with focus and purpose. As the situation with the virus evolved, so did the company-wide communications. The most recent message, disseminated on March 16, included a detailed rundown of company plans, including an update on business hours, an update on team members self-isolating, and an update on inspections. The March 16 note also communicated plans to develop two office "teams" to alternate days in the office and reduce mass groups in the company's office space and communicated plans for working with clients.
Case said the company-wide communications are reviewed and reinforced in smaller team meetings to ensure all team members are on the same page and to ensure the company delivers on promises made to clients. Each of the five community-wide communications will be printed and mailed to every team member to ensure they see the stages of communication. Similar communication has been developed for subcontractors and suppliers to Case.
"We are constantly asking for any and all input, concerns and questions from our team, from our clients, from fellow remodelers, from our alliances, etc.," Case told REMODELING. "Then we meet as a leadership team to distill status of the virus and the feedback from various sources to determine the next steps/the best path forward. As a leadership team, we are also working hard to think a couple of steps ahead - if the virus worsens what are our next steps."
Client communications. In addition to in-house communication, Case has sent an email blast to its entire database of more than 10,000 past and current clients and leads outlining the company's stance and steps taken to maintain health during the global pandemic. Those stances and steps have also been publicly posted on the company's blog and these posts are linked in communication with clients.
In an email to REMODELING, Case said there needs to be constant communication in any challenging time, but especially given how rapidly the virus is affecting people and the country.
"But too many e-mails or mass communications are not effective in our culture," Case said. "Mass communications need to be thoughtfully composed. Smaller group or one-on-one communications reinforce that mass communication. We also feel informal communication is incredibly important and effective in general - not just during challenging times. Walkabouts to talk with team members, understanding their concerns, hearing their insights/thoughts are powerful."
Partner communications. In addition to communicating with clients and employees, Case is in constant communication with suppliers, gaining the latest information on any possible disruptions to the supply chain. Case believes the most present risk for remodelers is the closure of permit and inspections offices (in Maryland, permit and inspection offices are closed for anything without direct access from the outside, putting ongoing interior projects in jeopardy).
Case has developed a checklist to use with quarantined workers to ensure proper tracking and notification of those potentially affected, and several company managers have attended coronavirus-related webinars to understand different angles to monitor and consider.
The company is also getting creative to work around fears about in-person meetings. Case is offering "virtual consultations," leveraging FaceTime to meet remotely with homeowners. Case Design is also scaling back its advertising and pivoting its message so that "it is more 'we care' than 'buy from us.'"
Case said amid the challenges facing the country, "there has never been a more important time for us to all share as one holistic community."