HOUSTON – It's a brand new way to work for the service providers who are walking into your home nowadays.
The workday now includes everything from temperature checks, to suiting up in protective gloves, and germ-blocking booties like doctors wear into surgery—and that’s all before they ever get started on the work in your home.
Monica Ryan is the owner Village Plumbing and Air and says her technicians have new working protocol because of COVID19.
“The guys really sanitize everything between houses. They wear gloves, wear the mask, wear booties, really trying to keep anything from going on.”
Ryan, who is also a master plumber, says it's all about protecting her customers and employees.
With her plumbers servicing over 350 homes a week and touching a lot of surfaces in some of the most intimate areas of your house, Ryan had to come up with a whole list of new safety precautions to protect customers.
The company’s new protocol includes:
- protective personal protective gear for workers
- disinfecting all new parts plumbers are bringing to do the job
- wiping down the areas they touch after the job
- having zero contact with the customer
Ryan adds, “So when the technician arrives at your house, they’re going to be contacting you via Facetime. Leave the front door unlocked and you can go into the other room if you like to.”
She says it makes the customers feel more comfortable.
Other service providers like carpet cleaners and exterminators are doing the same thing—eliminating as much contact as possible with clients.
“I think people are starting to see that this is going to be a regular thing for the next 4 or 5 months, so we’re all adjusting,” says Marcos Jurado, owner of OJ Carpet Cleaning, which services the Cypress, Tomball, Woodlands and Spring areas of town.
Sandra Njoku is the owner of MMKL Services and knows all too well about business falling off because of customers’ fears of letting people in their homes. Njoko says her business fell off dramatically after the pandemic hit.
“It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my God, how am I going to pivot and make the changes to still continue with our business’.”
She recalls what customers told her about booking their cleanings, “‘We’re not sure…things are getting very serious and we’re not sure if we feel comfortable at this point.‘” She’s been able to keep business afloat but says calls have dropped from 15-20 a week to 5-10.
Dr. Linda Yancey is an Infectious Disease Specialist at Memorial Hermann, and she actual says that customers are okay to allow service providers into their homes. If proper safety protocol is taken.
“This is a relatively safe thing to do, to have someone come into your home.”
Dr. Yancey says, “They definitely need to be wearing a mask. If there’s folks in the family (during the time of the visit), put them in another room.” She also adds the timing of when you put on and take off your mask is also vital to keeping everyone safe. She suggests putting on your mask at least 10 to 15 minutes before your service provider arrives.
“When the provider has left, keep your mask on for again 10 to 15 minutes, so that gives time for the virus in the air to settle down, and then you can decontaminate surfaces in the area.”
Finally, remember, experts say no matter who you allow into your home, stay away from them. Have them talk to you via computer or over the phone, instead of face-to-face.
Some companies, like Village Plumbing are even offering “virtual service calls,” where they Zoom with you and show you how to fix the problem, all in an effort to keep you safe while still providing the services you need.
In fact, a new company called Fixer provides help for common household repair problems with virtual service calls. Customers work with a technician via a real-time video call where the technician walks them through each step of the repair, build or set up. The services range from fixing leaky faucets to installing ceiling fans or new screen doors to setting up the smart TV to building the bookcase or even placing tile and grout on the counter top.