The Home Service Consumer Report | Coronavirus Update May 11th

The Home Service Consumer Report | Coronavirus Update May 11th

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Posted by Ian H., President

May 12, 2020

May 11, 2020 quick update


Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard

is reporting 4.16 million global cases, 285,000 deaths and 1.45 million recovered. 

In the US there are 1.34 million confirmed cases, over 232,000 recovered and over 80,000 deaths as of 2:32pm on May 11.


appears as though it may have reached a plateau and potentially passed its peak nationally. 


Two White House officials and other staff recently tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Katie Miller, a top spokesperson for US Vice President Mike Pence tested


last week. Miller is married to Stephen Miller, a senior advisor to President Donald Trump. One of President Trump’s personal valets also tested positive. Staff in the West Wing must now wear masks except when seated at their own desks. 

Three top public health leaders in the US COVID-19 response are also self-quarantining due to potential exposure: Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 



Support for social distancing measures, including “stay at home” orders, has dipped, according to a

recent poll

, but a majority of respondents (71%) still support these measures. Additionally, a majority of respondents (55%) disapprove of recent protests against these restrictions.  



The restaurant and food industry has been significantly impacted by the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19, leading to protests, economic stress, and business closures. A


by the National Restaurant Association found that the US restaurant industry lost an estimated $25 billion in sales and more than 3 million jobs from March 1-22. Additionally, “3% of restaurant operators have already permanently closed their restaurants.” As states begin to reopen, owners now face a

difficult dilemma

—to open their doors again or remain closed and wait until reopening is safer. The decision is complex, with questions about safety and liability for staff and guests,

logistics and cost of mitigation measures

, and uncertainty regarding whether or not customers will return. 



On May 12, a US Senate Committee will hold a hearing to discuss appropriate measures to relax social distancing. The hearing—titled

COVID-19: Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School

—will provide Senators the opportunity to question several high-profile members of the US COVID-19 response.  

May 11 Topic: The Home Service Consumer Report - it's time to learn about the new needs of your old customers with Christa Quarles 

Special Guest: Christa Quarles

Christa Quarles was most recently the CEO of OpenTable, where she managed over 1100 employees and operations in over 20 countries for the beloved consumer brand. Prior to joining OpenTable, she served as the Chief Business Officer for Nextdoor. Prior to that, Christa was an SVP and GM of interactive games at The Walt Disney Company.

Peacetime vrs. Wartime CEO

  • There is a real shift in behavior around how you run your business 

  • Peacetime CEO has the time and space and energy to think well into the future. 

  • The Wartime CEO focused on how to get through this week.

  • As a Wartime CEO though the key is being both tactical and future focused. Is there anything you can do today that helps this week but will also be good for the business down the road?

  • If you have ideas, now is the time for extreme entrepreneurship. So if you have ideas and you have the capacity to try something out, put something out there and see what the response is.

Value of Community

  • We've got to come together as a community. You know, if our local communities aren't strong, then our small businesses can't be strong underneath them because these are the people who are buying

  • Even if there is another carpet cleaner or another HVAC right next to you, there's a lot that can be learned and shared between the two of you because ultimately, you know that that rising tide floats all boats in the long run.

Learning from Other Industries

  • I think the full service restaurant obviously has been completely decimated. OpenTable put the data out on it and you know, people are just not willing and not feeling comfortable to eat in person again. It is unclear where it is going to go. I mean, I think you said at the beginning 3% of restaurants have already closed. There's some estimates it could be as high as 75%. Because guess what? It doesn't work to have 25% capacity in a restaurant, the business metrics don't actually work if you cut that down. Because rent is such a high percentage of the total cost in a restaurant. 

  • The biggest transformation in the restaurant industry though was how the consumer chose to interact with the restaurant.

  • When OpenTable started, there was no such thing as an online reservation. And so picking up the phone, calling the restaurant was the only way that you could make a reservation.Technology quickly improved inside restaurants and customers became more comfortable with it. The idea that now that you would pick up the phone and call to make a reservation seems crazy. Of course you just go online and tap, tap, tap, boom. I know I can see all the restaurants and all the availability at all the times. And so why on earth would I waste both sides time? Oh by the way, I can also make a reservation at two o'clock in the morning when you're not open and you're not able to pick up the phone. 

Consumers Prefer Online Interaction

  • It’s really been interesting to watch how different and how quickly consumers have adapted to this new distance experience.

  • The big question for your pros is how are they adapting? How are you taking what has been a major shift in both e-commerce and how you're getting your information, how you're getting your goods to maybe how I'm going to think about HVAC for the summer. 

  • That's a big, big change that I think we're still catching up to. 

  • It's an important question to ask because I think you're going to see a lot of the preferences change and how much are really people going to be willing to be doing in person versus over the phone. And I think a lot of that is changing.

  • Consumer preference changed pretty radically to prefer the online interaction.

Consumer Trends: Nesting

  • One of the important trends is where you live matters 10 X what it used to. People are nesting like they never have before. 

  • There's a company called Wayfair that sells furniture online and they just reported their first quarter business results and it was through the roof. 

  • What you see are people, wanting a good and fair price but they are also outfitting their homes in a way that they never had before. They are creating a home office. They're turning a garage into a desk space. I think the nesting phenomenon is going to continue to play and people want their homes to be nice. 

Customer Transparency Around Price

  • 33.5 million people have filed a front employment over the last seven weeks

  • Price and communication and transparency around price are going to be really important. 

  • I sit on the board of a consumer lending company and one of the things we've learned is that if a consumer understands what something costs or that they can afford it, they're more likely to engage with it. 

  • So if I have no idea what it costs to get a new HVAC system, I'm probably not going to engage and I'm not going to connect if I have no idea what that price is going to be.

  • There's two pieces here. 

    • One is transparency around what something costs and people are forgiving. They understand it's going to be a range. Maybe you have to get in there and maybe you have to figure out exactly, but just give them a ballpark that sort of gives them a sense, should I engage or should I not engage? 

    • The other thing to keep in mind are just the range of prices that people are going to be willing to pay.

    • I think that's going to help people engage with a broader array of services that they have a deeper understanding because this is a scary time for a lot of Americans who are trying to just figure out where's the next meal gonna come from? How am I going to engage in things when business is tight, yet I'm spending all this time at home so I want to make sure home is good. And so being able to invest appropriately but with clarity and transparency I think is the key.  

Put Your Pricing Out There

  • Now's the time to put your pricing out there on your online booking.

  • I couldn't imagine going to a restaurant with just a menu with no prices on it. I'd be like, so what are we spending tonight? I don't know. That's super weird. You don’t want to eat at those restaurants. 

  • Putting your pricing out there also gets rid of the price shoppers. If someone sees your price and goes, you know what, I can afford to spend that. Maybe because I do see the price, I'm like that's a lot less than I thought it was or that's within what I can spend and so let's have the conversation. Whereas before they're like, I don't even know what it's like so I'm not even going to bother booking or calling and wasting my time. So showing those prices is huge. 

Give The Customer Breathing Room

  • Customers feel there is this time of do I have to make a decision right now? Do I have to choose right away? 

  • Giving them the space to let them see what it is, understand and then come back is important

  • It can be scary because you just want to get the job done and you're trying to load them up and it’s how you manage your day and your time. 

  • It’s important though to give a little bit of breathing room around getting that information to the customer and then letting them come back.

Building Trust through Humanity

  • A lot of companies are trying to figure out how to establish trust when they used to be able to do it in person, by shaking hands, or looking you in the eye. 

  • it's not too different than a bigger company trying to build their brand though.

  • My recommendation is really letting the consumer know a little bit more about you. Like how did you start your business? 

  • One of the things we always recommended on the restaurant side was don't just have your Instagram profile be a bunch of pretty pictures of food. Have it be a photo of closing time, shutting down the restaurant, the exhaustion, what it takes to run and build and drive your restaurant. 

  • People want to see the humanity that goes behind the story. They just don't want to see the face of the pro and the machine. They want to know the human being that sits behind it. So any way possible that you can convey anything about your life, that you’re a part of the community, that your kids play the local sports, that there's something that ties them personally to your story so that there's a level of connection and frankly trust.

  • All of that builds trust because they understand and appreciate what you're doing every single day. And I think sometimes there's a little bit of fear of showing the behind the scenes, but actually what we've seen is that when you show a little bit of the challenge behind the scenes, the two kids running through the garage that you're trying to do auto repair in or something like that, gives people a sense of connection and belonging.

Radical Candor

  • You have to be able to have hard conversations and not, nobody was really fully trained in how to have these conversations and nobody has the perfect guide book about how to do it. And so a lot of times what you find is that people shy away from the hard conversation. It's just easier to have no conversation than to have hard conversations.

  • All radical candor really is, is I'm going to speak to you as if I'm almost speaking to like my child or somebody that I've got your back and I want you to be the best version, the best employee, the best, whatever. But we've got to have this difficult conversation about how we move forward. And what often happens is, you know, people need to know and believe that you care about who they are as a human being. 

  • How to have the difficult conversation of laying someone off using radical candor:

    • “You know what, you came here, you came to work for the last three years and you gave it your all and what you did mattered. And it was a huge contributor to the growth of our business. It's tough right now. And I really wish we could have a different outcome, but I can't make the numbers work any other way. And so I can't, you know, we can't have you work here anymore.”

  • What I would just encourage everybody to do is, to think about how you are connecting with your employees on a true emotional level because that's going to give you the power to have more of those difficult conversations that ultimately, hopefully advance your business. 

  • Radical candor can be both praise and criticism, because you've gotten to know them and show that you care about who they are and they think that you've got your back. So when they get criticism they know it’s because you want them to be the best employee that they can be. 

  • The key is you are going to get a better result with your employees if they feel supported but also pushed at the same time because now they can evolve out of their comfort zone. Think of your own reactions and how clear you know your abilities are when you have trust with the people in your life versus when you fear them. You certainly aren't going to get the best out of me in a day's work if I'm afraid. But if I trust you, I'm going to go to you when I've made a mistake and I'm going to say, Hey boss, something happened. Right? If I fear you, I might not, I might hide it. 

Questions From Audience

What problems in your business have you experienced that have shaped the woman you are today?

  • I've always worked historically in pretty male dominated environments. One of the things that was surprising to me was just how much I thought l had to show up as a man, to be perfectly honest. I thought that I had to swear and tell jokes and do all these things. What I learned throughout the arc of my career was that I was just not as effective when I showed up with somebody who I really wasn't. 

  • The key for me was at OpenTable when I was finally the boss. It let me release those preconceived notions of who I needed to be and who I needed to show up as. I started showing up exactly as myself. 

  • I learned that I was 10 times the leader when I wasn’t trying to be a version of what I thought a successful leader was like.

I’ve always been reluctant to get involved on Nextdoor as a handyman service because it's a little too close to home. Any advice around that? 

  • Create a business profile and the key is to keep your home persona and your business persona distinct.

  • The nice thing about Nextdoor is that so much of the connection to pros is word of mouth.For example, I found a guy to put fencing up in my yard on Nextdoor because I got a dog.

How do you get through times of high stress and competing priorities? How do you combat it? What do you do personally? What can our pros take away to help all of us through, through this time? What has worked for you? 

  • First thing is to acknowledge you are not alone

  • This is a time of extreme stress, and trauma

  • There are multiple types of health; mental, financial and physical health. They are all being taxed daily during COVID-19. 

  • Find other people that are in similar situations and connect with them over Zoom or anyway that you can to share stories

  • Make sure your body has energy, whether that be through yoga or meditation or any other activity.

What are some ways that you would suggest getting for our pros to get involved in their local communities? 

  • Back to the idea of how you build trust, the other day I bought a meal and I also bought a mask from the company selling me a meal and they were going to donate a portion of that mask price to their local charity. It made me feel better about buying that meal from the restaurant.

  • Getting involved with your community is a long term investment. You're planting seeds that will grow for later and you'll cash in on that later too. Don't expect to do things now and then suddenly next week you're fully booked. No, this is going to take months and years and it's going to establish a brand.

What is one thing that our Pros can wake up and do tomorrow, just that one step, what would you encourage our audience right now tonight to wake up tomorrow and do?

  • I think you know what we said earlier about showing them opening or closing time on your Instagram feed. Show them what it's like to like to turn that crank day in and day out and show that little bit of humanity and let it shine through because we all know the people behind these businesses are fantastic. 

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Legal disclaimer

Housecall Pro is offering the Coronavirus Evening Update for Home Service Businesses for informational purposes only and to foster thoughtful communication and discussion regarding the COVID-19 pandemic; Housecall Pro is not offering advisory services or otherwise advising or representing any members of the group invited to participate.  Housecall Pro is not offering legal, medical or other professional advice in the Coronavirus Evening Update and makes no representations or warranties regarding the content of the Coronavirus Evening Update.  Participants should obtain independent advice relating to their businesses and their particular circumstances.


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