How Tradies Can Survive Covid-19
Workers across various sectors in the Australian economy have experienced layoffs and reduced working hours because of the negative business impact brought by the coronavirus pandemic. These include the tradies who, despite getting job orders from people around the neighbourhood, also struggle with low job demands and keeping contracts after the lockdown was lifted.
Here’s what tradies can do to survive the Covid-19 crisis:
Keeping the Job Requests Coming
Nowadays, there are a lot of people working from home and school-aged kids staying at home, which means that electricity and access to the internet are essential. Tradies are needed to set up and fix any issues on these necessary home installations.
Promote Safety Precautions
To keep the job requests coming, tradies should take COVID-safety procedures before making an appointment. They should also post about the safety precautions that they are taking on their social media or website so that clients will know that they are “safe” to work with.
These precautions include:
- Regular handwashing
- Conducting longer conversations with clients over the phone to assess their health and understand the problem beforehand and reduce the amount of face-to-face interaction when in their clients' home
- Maintaining the recommended distance from clients
- Hand sanitising before and after entering a client’s home
- Focusing on general cleanliness on the job
- Social distancing with families outside of work hours
- Not reporting for work when sick or have any symptoms of coronavirus
- Providing a signed form declaring they have not been overseas or been in contact with anyone who has the virus
- Promoting the use of electronic payment channels to minimise physical contact with clients
Active Social Media Presence
A lot of people are staying at home and using the internet to get information, connect with loved ones, or be entertained. Tradies can take advantage of this "new normal" by promoting their craft and tradie business online.
Take photos of you and your crew (if you have some) in action, wearing proper gear, including gloves and face masks while on the job.
If not on the job, upload videos on YouTube demonstrating your skills, like "How to Install a Window A/C Unit" or "How to Fix a Leaky Faucet". Don't worry. You won't lose your job by teaching people to DIY. Sure, people who watch your videos would know a thing or two about fixing problems around their house but many are simply too busy, lazy or hesitant to DIY.
Apart from sharing your knowledge, you are also establishing yourself online as the go-to person for tradie stuff.
Avoiding Covid-19 While on the Job
Apart from taking safety precautions to ensure their clients’ safety, tradies should also assess the client just as the latter would be assessing them. Assessment includes:
- Phone Interview. Tradies should not visit the home of a client in ill health or quarantine.
- Guarantee Form. Providing a form for clients to sign declaring the latter have not been overseas or been in contact with anyone who has the virus
- Social Distancing. Tradies should maintain the recommended distance from clients or request that they should be left to work alone in the room and have the clients communicate with them by phone, especially if the work is in a confined area.
- Proper Gear. Apart from tradie tools, tradies should wear masks and gloves, especially when working for an elderly client or someone of high risk.
- Good Hygiene. Regular hand washing and hand sanitising before and after entering the client’s home
- No Physical Contact. Tradies should not shake hands or hug their clients.
- General Cleanliness. Tradies should clean their clothes and shoes after any home visit.
Tradies should also schedule trades at different times or on different days to minimise external contact with homeowners.
Dealing with Shortage of Materials and Tools
Tradies may also face a shortage of materials and tools necessary for their job, especially if they’re being supplied from overseas.
“Getting gear brought in from China is affecting us. It’s getting more difficult,” says electrician Rob Mifsud. Tradies in home renovation have also dealt with a lack of supply of materials like paint, glass and building cladding, especially in March when the lockdown started.
Now that the economies in most parts of the globe are slowly recovering, the material shortage may also end.
Source Local, Order Ahead of Time, and Stock Up
Tradies who are still dealing with supply issues can source locally or order ahead of time to minimise any delay on their current or future projects.
While the Covid-19 pandemic is still around, it is smart to have several months worth of stock and products in stock, especially those that are imported from China and other parts of the world, like plywood and decking.
Tradie businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in one way or another can take advantage of several federal stimulus packages for small businesses.
These stimulus packages include:
- Cash grants of $2,000 to $25,000 for small and medium businesses turning over up to $50 million per year
- Subsidised apprentice wages for trade businesses with less than 20 employees of up to $21,000 for each apprentice employed with payment spread across 9 months
- Instant tax reductions available on purchases up to $150,000 on vehicles, machinery, tools and equipment
- Additional depreciation write off scheme for asset purchases valued over $150,000
- Cash grants of up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses that employ people with a minimum payment of $20,000
- Access up to $10,000 of superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21
- Temporary reduced superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21
- Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme to help SMEs get access to working capital where the government will guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders. If you require a tradie loan during this time, this is very useful!
- Temporary increased in the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive
Apart from monetary and financing assistance, there are also federal-sponsored Covid-19 stimulus packages for health, childhood education, commercial tenancies, mental health plan, job maker plan, and homebuilder grant that Australian trade businesses can benefit from.
Check out the COVID-19 Tradie Survival Package to learn more about these supports.