A guide to supporting your providers in a crisis

Service provider wearing a face mask while standing near his truck.
Dylan Rogers

When you run a business, your facilities service providers are an essential source of support. Every location goes through storm and stress—and your providers are there for you through it all.

They make it possible for you to continue serving customers. They give an important kind of help you need to continue growing your business.

Especially in hard times, it’s important to do what you can to help your providers succeed. Business owners with their own groups of service providers will need to manage many different variables to keep their providers healthy, productive, and motivated.

Here are some of the best ways you can be there for your providers during uncertain circumstances.

Acknowledge the current situation

There’s no simple playbook for leading in a time of crisis. Your service providers might feel burned out, lonely, or unsupported.

A recent Gallup poll showed that less than half of employees strongly agree that their company cares about their overall well-being.

Employees want to turn to someone they can trust. They need confidence. And they want to know that you understand what’s at stake.

So don’t wait for your providers to reach out with their concerns. Create a space to hear them out. Acknowledge their fear and frustration.

Then, take meaningful action.

Be a consistent source of valuable information

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), coronavirus cases are steadily increasing every day.

To better handle this developing situation, share valuable protocol and the latest information on COVID-19. Focus your attention on the following areas, if you haven’t already.

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), including where to get it and how to use it;
  • Social distancing regulations that apply to your local community;
  • Recommendations for physical health and hygiene.

Pro tip:

To stay tuned to the latest coronavirus news, consider setting up Google Alerts for “COVID-19” and the name of your city or state. You’ll receive daily email alerts with policy updates you can act on.

If legally required in your area, supply your service providers with authorization letters designating them as essential workers.

Supporting your service providers is about more than letting them know you’re concerned for them. Instead, show them that you can be depended upon as a resource.

Hear from Armando:

“We’ve been very fortunate to be able to work mostly as normal. We’re working—we’re busy, and that’s been great. [SMS Assist has] really had our back. [SMS Assist has] given us the right tools. [The] portal gives us all the right information. We know the guidelines; we know how to stay safe. [SMS Assist] helped us take every measure to stay on top of safety.”

—Armando Betancourt, owner of ACEXTRA in Hialeah, FL

Pay attention to provider capacity

Use technology to track your providers’ facilities workload.

A work order management system will show you which of your service providers is taking on more work than is reasonable. Work orders will be reassigned to other service providers based on workload and skillset.

Balancing workload between providers is critical for maintaining quality across your portfolio.

But it’s also important for morale: Your service providers will perform their best work if they’re not overwhelmed by what’s on their plate.

For instance, our market managers review provider capacity and monitor performance, but they’re also in close connection with our providers to keep a tab on morale across our network.

Technology makes this job easier.

Monitor potentially vulnerable work conditions

The current landscape poses different kinds of risk. Apart from potential exposure to COVID-19, your providers might encounter situations involving possible harm to themselves or their property.

Let your service providers know when they’re entering potentially high-risk environments.

The best way to monitor vulnerable work conditions is through a centralized technology platform.

Staying up to date on what’s happening across your portfolio is critical. You’ll be able to flag individual work orders in the system if they involve potentially sensitive contact.

As work orders are dispatched, providers will be automatically informed with a notification on a mobile app. And since you’ve educated your teams on the latest safety protocols, providers won’t be exposed to risks they’re unprepared for.

Hear from Santiago:

“Working with SMS Assist has been great. Especially considering the safety precautions. [The] portal lets us know when there’s been a customer at a jobsite who’s been exposed to the coronavirus or shows flu-like symptoms. Understanding the nature of each new situation has been super helpful. Otherwise, we’d be totally in the dark. Having that information up front is so valuable.”

—Santiago Forteza, owner of P1 Professional Plumbing in Opa Locka, FL

For example, our queue and dispatch teams work closely with customers and service providers to ensure safe work environments. They ask questions to gather essential information about customer health and review the possibility of exposure before sending providers to job sites.

Your service providers are handling new and uncertain situations. They want to feel supported. They need leadership they can trust. You can provide the tools and strategy they need to help them—and your company—succeed in a time of crisis.