How to spend your home service business loans efficiently - Housecall Pro

How to spend your home service business loans efficiently

cover image for video discussing how small businesses can use their government loans most effectively in this pandemic period

April 20, 2020 update quick update

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is reporting close to 2.5m global cases and almost 170K deaths. 

According to the WHO COVID-19 Situation Report for April 19 the European Region reached 100k total COVID-19 deaths. Europe accounts for half of the total global reported cases but two-thirds of the reported deaths.

In the US we have seen 782k cases and 41.5k deaths as of 2:49pm on April 20. New York state reported 222k cases and 14k deaths—6k new cases from the previous day and 20.5k new cases and 1.7k new deaths since Friday’s briefing. New York state has reported declining daily cases incidents for 4 consecutive days, down from its high of 11.6k new cases on April 14. 


Globally, Germany has reportedly begun reopening businesses after approximately a month of “lockdown”. Schools and certain businesses like hair salons are currently scheduled for opening May 4. While Germany contains the fifth-highest number of cases in the world, its number of deaths has remained relatively low, potentially a function of its extensive testing strategy. 


 As China gradually eases physical distancing, the government has called for more rigorous testing to prevent a resurgence of cases, from either travelers or from local transmission. Depending on how those efforts play out, China could provide key lessons for other countries that are anticipating similar efforts in the coming weeks and months. 


Following US President Donald Trump’s unveiling of the federal government’s plan to relax social distancing last week, groups of protesters gathered in states across the country over the weekend in opposition to lockdowns. The protestors called for governors to lift “stay at home” orders, including reopening non-essential businesses and permitting large gatherings. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed his opposition to the protests, noting that prematurely relaxing physical distancing could “backfire” and increase transmission, which could further delay economic recovery.

Today, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced that certain businesses in the state would be able to reopen this week in a “small step forward” in effort to mitigate the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Kemp, said specifically that fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, hair and nail salons, and massage therapy businesses can reopen as early Friday, April 24. Theaters and restaurants will be allowed to open on Monday, April 27 while bars and nightclubs will remain closed for now.

The move comes alongside similar announcements from the governors of South Carolina and Tennessee.

Earlier today, President Trump, at the daily white house coronavirus briefing said Americans need to continue practicing social distancing.


In business news, no deal has yet been passed by Congress for the next-round of small business coronavirus relief. 

Congress is looking at an interim coronavirus relief bill according to NBC news that includes:

  • $310B – SBA Paycheck Protection Program
  • $75B – Hospital funding
  • $25B – Testing funding
  • $60B – SBA Economic Injury Disaster Relief Loan program (EIDL)

Shake Shack 

Speaking of the PPP, Shake Shack, one of several large restaurant chains that got federal loans through the coronavirus stimulus law, said Sunday night that it is giving all $10 million back.

The New York-based burger company is among more than a dozen companies with annual revenues in the hundreds of millions that are reported to have received money from the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP. Less than two weeks after it started, the program has already run out of money.

 In a statement Sunday night on LinkedIn, Danny Meyer, Shake Shack’s founder and CEO of its parent company and Randy Garutti, Shake Shack’s CEO, said they had no idea the fund would dry up so quickly, so after they were able to secure separate funding last week, “we’ve decided to immediately return the entire $10 million” so restaurants that “need it most can get it now.” 

Topic: So you got your pandemic loan, now what? 

Special Guests:

  • Sarah Hughton, owner of Golden Rule Cleaning & More (10 person company) based out of Illinois. Sarah has not received her funding quite yet, but should be at the end of the week.
  • Brandon Medcalf, owner of Medcalf Mechanical (5 employees) based out of Indiana.
    • Attended the Chicago Mastermind and shortly after became our Pro Leader for Indianapolis. He went from being homeless ~7 years ago to owning a super successful HVAC company. He HAS received his EIDL funds and has a virtual interview lined up for tomorrow to bring on another tech. 
  • Garett Baird, owner of Thompson Plumbing, Heating & AC (XL company with 7 employees) based out of San Diego.
    • Garett and his wife were funded the full amount last week for the EIDL and are feeling at ease.

Set yourself up for success

  • You can choose to set yourself up not only to survive, you can choose to set yourself up to actually succeed and thrive in the future, but you have to take action
  • You can’t control everything, right? You can’t really control what the government is going to do at the federal level. You can’t really control what your state is going to do, but you can control what you’re going to do about your business each and every day to get yourself on the path towards success both now and for the long term. So taking action, any action and moving forward is a big, big start. 

You are CEO of your company, BE the CEO

  • What is the culture of your business? Your mindset that you want to have is you’re the CEO of your company. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is. You are the CEO of your business. So what is the culture in this crazy hard to believe environment that you want to create for your company, for your people. And so your culture should be one of, look, I want to get super lean. I want to cut down all my expenses, I’m gonna figure out what I have to have and what is nice to have, and I want to go bare bones.
  • Go look at how you can get cash on my books? What can you do to shore up your balance sheet? Save costs where you can be really smart on that front and you want to get some cash on your balance sheet. 
  • What are you as a leader of your business doing, to invest in you? What are you doing to feed your mind? You are the leader of your team and everyone’s looking for direction. What are you doing to invest in your own growth? What are you reading? What are you listening to in a podcast? You should set aside time every day to express great gratitude and focus on investing in your growth and development so that you can be the leader that your family needs, that your company needs and your community and your country need in that order. So keep investing in yourselves and a growth mindset and keep them yourself toward the fight you’ll be in great shape.

Discussion with Brooks Pettus, COO of Housecall Pro

Sarah, given that you are in the home cleaning space which has not been the easiest space to be in, yet you remain optimistic and have put a plan into place.

I had a baby six weeks ago. So I went from having a baby to like a week later being locked down and damage control for my business. 

Our first step was communication. We communicated very well with our staff and with our clients. So let them know we were open and we were essential and we’re here to serve them. And then our second communication was how were we going to serve them? What’s going to be different with the carnal virus? 

Our second step was making a marketing plan that was very aggressive compared to any other month that we’ve ever done marketing. Marketing is like rock bottom prices right now. So our 90 day plan is that we’re staying with our marketing where we’re here, we’re essential. When we are opening back up, we’ll be changing our message to, cleaning is not a luxury anymore. It is a public safety issue. So now we need to get our businesses on a plan for disinfecting. 

We have been very lucky that we have actually increased our revenue during this time. We’re more worried about when we reopen all of our clients returning since we have so many new clients on the books.

So what I hear there is that you looked at your business, you looked at what’s going on around you, and you realize the message you had 90 days ago was not going to work. Right. The world has changed. Yeah. So you’ve evolved your message twice since then.

When it comes to your marketing spend, diversify it. This lets you test and see what works and what doesn’t and adjust accordingly. 

Garrett, tell me what your plan is and what, what are you thinking about for the next 90 days with your business?

My wife and I began making a 30 day plan, a 60 day plan and a 90 day plan. We had enough saved for six months of our personal savings anyways to float the company for six months. We received both the EIDL and PPP, which helps us sleep better at night since we don’t know how long this will go on for. 

Marketing efforts are the same since pre-COVID-19 and we are continuing these efforts. We’re focusing on paying vendors and paying off credit card debt. And we have been seeing more emergency plumbing calls but weather is supposed to get really hot this upcoming week so eager to see how customers react and if AC service calls jump up.

We went through Kabbage to get our PPP since Wells Fargo, who we bank with, was a mess.

Brandon, can you tell us what’s going on with your business where you are in your process? What are you thinking about for the next three months and how to run your company?

At first we started sending people home and wanted to let customers know that they are open for business and here for them and taking steps to protect customers and technicians.

We are currently working on implementing a virtual estimate process and leveraging every form of communication to get in front of customers with messaging.

We are also offering special payments plans to customers and deals, such as “free service call with repair.” And we’re having a virtual interview with a technician tomorrow because the company is still growing and now we need to get 2 new technicians.

Already was working on making the company more lean and role out a new sales plan and we aim to press forward with this approach of streamlining sales and service processes.

Your opportunity is with a future customer

Market to raise awareness of the future customer too. They may not be ready to buy, but as Roland said, their demand is getting backed up. They may have a lot fewer options in town, but their go to person may be stuck.or sadly go out of business. You get a shot at that opportunity. Build that new customer in and when they are ready for you, provide them with a 5 star experience, get them on a maintenance agreement and look, you just found one new customer you have a lifetime relationship with. I think that’s the opportunity. Everyone we see that’s doing well, they built a plan. 

Utilize customer or job tags and ask new customers how they heard about you so that you can see what marketing channels are working and bringing in paying customers.

Remember though that just because it didn’t work this month doesn’t mean it wont work next month, so diversification is key.

What if I’m not doing so well right now and I’m just trying to get my company on its feet?

All three of you guys are doing really well. It sounds like it in this challenging environment. Not everyone’s doing as well as you are right now. Yet they may get some money in from the government here from the idea for the PPP program, but they’re going from a cold start, right? They’re not doing well in terms of how to accelerate the business. You’re trying to help get the business off its feet off its heels and moving forward. Do you think that brand marketing is the right thing to do? If you’re in that situation, we should be looking at more customer acquisition marketing or look at more of your free options like email and maybe a little postcard. Or just  calling all my customers. How do you guys think about that?

Sarah: I started my business with $2000 and I had no money for marketing but the key is to determine how much you are allocating to what. . If you spend on marketing, spend it where your target customers are going. If high end customers, don’t go newspaper because they don’t look there. We did postcards and used our own website 

Garrett: online reviews are our main source of leads. Yelp, although it doesn’t work everywhere, in Southern California it works. Google local services have been really good.

Reach out and show compassion to customers

Advice from the panel about ways your business can start to connect with customers compassionately:

  • Send mass email to customer list to let them know what they are doing differently to keep them safe
  • Reached out to non-profits to let them know how they can help for free
  • Call your customers and ask how are you doing? How’s your family doing? How’s your community? Can we help you in some way?If you do the same thing, you’ll find a lot of people that respond to that, remember you are planting the ideas in their mind and they may not need that service today, but they’ll remember that call and that care that you show for them. And three months from now, six months from now, nine months from now, they’ll call you when they have business or they’re going to talk about you when they’re putting their friends at church going to talk about you in their neighborhood. They’re talking across the fence to a neighbor and still still six feet away. Like you never know that level of care, what the return is going to be for you today, tomorrow and down the road.
  • If you’ve got people that are being essentially subsidized by the PPP, and if you don’t have a lot of jobs, the best thing that you can do is just go deliver these goods with just a handwritten little note that says, Hey, we’re thinking of you, here’s a piece of soap. Even if it’s a bar of soap or an air filter or rolls of toilet paper/paper towels. Who cares, just have your people drive around and just hand those out because you are planting these seeds and that’s definitely something you all should be thinking about and doing cause it costs you next to nothing. 

Get to using your pandemic loan now

  • Make a plan and put it on paper
  • Talk to your team, do training with them, and get them on board with your plan. They may even have some ideas of how to get there. 
  • If you can, spread your marketing money around in different sources
  • Streamline internal processes
  • Pick up the phone, and call each one of your customers and use the script that Brooks just gave you, which is: Hey NAME, I’m just giving you a quick call. Just want to let you know we’re still open. Is there anything I can do for you in the meantime? I hope everything’s okay. That’s it. And just see where the conversation takes you. You’ll go through your customer list and in a couple of days worth of time, and if you’re not able to connect, make sure you just leave a voicemail and it’s just a simple script. Again. Hey NAME, sorry I missed you here. I’m just giving all my customers a call. Thank you so much for the business that we did six months ago or a year ago. Just so you know, we’re still open. If there’s anything you ever need or delivery you want us to run, we’re happy to help. And that’s it.  

Housecall Pro Author

Housecall Pro

Last Posted November, 2023