As you know, many states are under shelter-in-place orders, allowing only essential businesses and entities to remain open. We are all learning that the word ‘essential’ is a very ambiguous term and each state’s definition is ever-changing. Not to mention, many businesses are taking advantage of loopholes in policy changes, making it hard to know which way is up and which way is down.
Disregarding orders can lead to massive fines, license removal, and mandatory business closure. While we can’t eliminate the gray area, we can try to make things somewhat black and white.
Wondering what CraftJack is doing to keep our contractors safe? Read our COVID-19 update here.
Definition Of Essential
Essential services are those that involve maintaining the wellness and health of the people who reside and work in a community/city/state. That’s a pretty broad definition. Fortunately, along with healthcare, food services, and public works, construction work is an essential contributor to a community’s health and well-being. Still, it’s important that each job is given full consideration of risk and necessity to protect you, your business, and your customers.
While many homeowners are likely to think that their projects are essential, it’s important for contractors to know what they can and can’t do to jeopardize their business licenses. While it’s frustrating not being able to work and complete projects that you deem safe and that maintain social distancing guidelines, it’s vital to protect your business for the future.
Is Landscaping An Essential Service?
While HVAC, plumbing and electrical are commonly known as essential business, landscaping services are definitely falling under the gray area and certainly causing some controversial conversations. Many states are classifying landscaping as nonessential, and most of us would agree. On the flip side, it seems to be a service that would be relatively safe to provide.
It’s possible that with each state’s policy changes and the lessons learned from previous policies, nonessential but safe services will be allowed in the near future. To make sure you are in compliance with your state, check The National Association of Landscape Professionals webpage for state-by-state guidance.
Consult State Guidelines Regularly
A good rule of thumb is to consult your individual state guidelines. Some states are more lenient when it comes to home contract work. Most projects that are related to plumbing, electrical, air quality, heating, extermination–service projects that help to preserve the safety and essential operations to residences and commercial properties in service industries, are fair game. Building associations like The Associated General Contractors of America and the American Subcontractors Association and others continue to update guidelines for the construction industry on a regular basis.
If you have been called or contracted to complete a home project, it is best to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this project necessary to sustain or protect life?
- Could the project be scheduled for a later date?
- Consider the safety of yourself, your workers, and the owners of the property. Does the project allow you to maintain social distancing guidelines?
Also, some states, like North Carolina, give small businesses the option to apply to the state if they feel the work is essential and is “necessary to properly respond” to the crisis. If a project is in the gray area, or if it is a large scale project already in the works, it would likely be worth the time to submit an application to your state’s crisis agency.
And, finally and most importantly, if you do contract a job, be sure to ask your clients to reschedule services or projects if they have any of the symptoms or aren’t feeling well. Keep yourself safe!
Utilize this time to evaluate how you track your leads and callbacks, call former clients to inquire about any future projects they may be considering, do digital estimates, manage your reviews and social media content and contacts.
While following these guidelines may be very frustrating because it means you are working much less than you would like to, you don’t have to sit home and twiddle your thumbs. Instead, you can plan for the future.
CraftJack can help you by providing a personalized account manager who sets up your profile and keeps generating and providing quality leads. If you have questions regarding your business or essential work, they can help. Contact your account manager today.