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Essential Businesses & Employees

What Contractors Need to Know

Authors: Devon Osborne and Diane Lovine

There is a great deal of uncertainty about who and what is considered an essential employee or business during this time of lockdown throughout much of the United States. Of most importance is the safety of workers and the public from the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19. However, government officials also recognize that there are certain services that need to continue in order to keep people safe and maintain buildings in working order and support a struggling economy. 

When the additional safety guidelines put out by the CDC for businesses and employers are also adhered to, contractors can continue to provide these services safely. In addition, the continued provision of services by certain industries enhances the economic stability of the country. 

There is good news for contractors in a variety of industries who provide services to both residents and businesses.  Tradespeople are considered to be essential employees in many states. According to The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), “Workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC technicians, landscapers, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses, and buildings such as hospitals, senior living facilities, any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response” are considered essential businesses. 

 

Types of Essential Work Permitted

As lead generation providers who specialize in serving contractors, we at 99 Calls have identified several categories of essential services under the guidance of the CISA. Industries relevant to these essential services include Janitorial and commercial cleaning businesses, damage restoration companies, plumbers, appliance repair personnel, emergency tree services, landscaping businesses and others who provide residential and commercial services that keep people and businesses sanitary safe, during the COVID-19 outbreak. Of the 16 categories (see image below), three specifically relate to contractors within industries we serve. They include commercial facilities, residential facilities and services, and hygiene services.

 

Commercial Facilities Category

  1. Workers who support the supply chain of building materials from production through application/installation, including cabinetry, fixtures, doors, cement, hardware, plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, refrigeration, appliances, paint/coatings, and employees who provide services that enable repair materials and equipment for essential functions.
  2. Workers distributing, servicing, repairing, installing residential and commercial HVAC systems, boilers, furnaces, and other heating, cooling, refrigeration, and ventilation equipment.

Residential/Shelter Facilities and Services Category

  1. Workers responsible for handling property management, maintenance, and related service calls who can coordinate the response to emergency “at-home” situations requiring immediate attention, as well as facilitate the reception of deliveries, mail, and other necessary services.
  2. Workers performing housing construction-related activities to ensure additional units can be made available to combat the nation’s existing housing supply shortage.
  3. Workers supporting the construction of housing, including those supporting government functions related to the building and development process, such as inspections, permitting and plan review services that can be modified to protect the public health, but fundamentally should continue and serve the construction of housing.

Hygiene Products and Services Category

  1. Workers providing personal and household goods repair and maintenance.
  2. Workers providing disinfection services, for all essential facilities
  3. Workers necessary for the installation, maintenance, distribution, and manufacturing of water and space heating equipment and its components.
  4. Support required for continuity of services, including commercial disinfectant services, janitorial/cleaning personnel, and support personnel functions that need freedom of movement to access facilities in support of front-line employees.

 

Which States Are Allowing Contractors To Operate?

As the current situation continues to evolve, it is important to also check with your state’s government offices. It is also important to note that in addition to being considered an essential business or worker, it is necessary to follow the CDC’s guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19, including wearing appropriate protective equipment and social distancing. 

This information is advisory and should not be considered a standard across all states. Each state has determined what businesses are considered essential and contractors should adhere to their states’ rules and regulations for specifics. At the time of this article being written, the following states are considering tradespeople as essential:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arkansas
  3. Arizona
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Delaware
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. Hawaii
  11. Idaho
  12. Illinois
  13. Indiana
  14. Kentucky
  15. Louisiana
  16. Maryland
  17. Massachusetts
  18. Michigan
  19. Minnesota
  20. Mississippi
  21. Missouri
  22. Nevada
  23. New Hampshire
  24. New Mexico
  25. New York
  26. North Carolina
  27. Ohio
  28. Oklahoma
  29. Oregon
  30. Utah
  31. Vermont
  32. Washington
  33. West Virginia
  34. Wisconsin
  35. Wyoming

 

Contractors Can Stay Safe During the Pandemic

If you are considered an essential employee, you may be wondering how to keep yourself, staff, and customers and your family safe and healthy. The virus is primarily spread from person to person and there are steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you. Employers must stay abreast of the latest CDC guidance, and should frequently remind workers to follow all necessary precautions.

  1. Keep at least 6 feet of space between you and other people. This includes all customers and coworkers. The newest guidance is to wear protective face masks when in public places.
  2. Avoid groups of people of 10 or larger. Allow employees to work from home when possible. 
  3. Continue to wash your hands often and thoroughly. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after being out in public, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  4. If handwashing with soap and water is not readily available, use a hand sanitizer of at least 60% alcohol.
  5. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  6. As a contractor, it is important to limit staff members on-site and practice social distancing when on a job site.
  7. When it comes to getting payment from your customers, try no-contact methods like PayPal, Venmo, or other online payment methods.

How to Keep Your Business Operating During COVID-19

Of course, the health and safety of your family, your employees, your customers and yourself comes first. Second, and still important is preserving the viability of your business. If you are in a state that considers your services to be essential, how can you access leads and get your phone ringing? First, update your website and Google listing to alert potential customers that you are still open for certain types of business. 

Next, if you aren’t doing so already, consider running a Google Ads campaign. Google Ads is a great way to generate leads quickly. Google Ads PPC is a silent auction-style where you bid on certain keywords to get on the first page of Google. This service allows contractors to target specific services in the towns they serve. Many business owners are concerned, and rightly so that Ads campaigns can be too costly. If you are not familiar with how to manage a budget and get the biggest return on your investment, consider partnering with a lead generation firm that can help you reach your lead and revenue goals. 

There are quite a few services that people are searching for amid this viral crisis. Some of the most frequently searched services we are seeing include disinfection and decontamination of homes and facilities, plumbing services and appliance repair. These are all important to keep homes and businesses functioning. Even during these times, emergencies and disasters still occur, such as water damage from appliance leaks and home damage from fallen trees. 

The main industries that are still receiving a robust supply of leads include:

  1. Commercial Cleaners
  2. Restoration Companies
  3. Appliance Repair
  4. Plumbers
  5. General Contractors
  6. Roofers
  7. Remodeling Contractors
  8. Handymen
  9. HVAC Contractors
  10. Electricians
  11. Pest Control

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