Business Basics with Lane Merrifield | Coronavirus Update April 27

Business Basics with Lane Merrifield | Coronavirus Update April 27

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Posted by Ian H., President

April 28, 2020

April 27, 2020 quick update


Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard

is reporting that globally we have crossed 3 million confirmed cases, almost 900,000 recoveries and over 210,000 deaths. 

In the US there are almost 1 million cases (983,848 US cases), 110,492 recoveries and 55,735 deaths as of 1:31pm on April 27.

After 4 consecutive days of increasing daily incidence,

New York state

reported a decrease in new cases on Saturday April 25. At the White House Coronavirus Press Briefing President Trump stated that cases in New Orleans, Detroit, Boston and Houston are also declining.




both appear to be remaining relatively steady in terms of daily incidence. Georgia has reported approximately 600-800 new cases per day over the past several weeks, and Texas has reported approximately 800-1,000 new cases per day over a similar period. Trends in daily incidence will warrant close monitoring over the next several weeks as Georgia, Texas, and other states begin to ease statewide physical distancing measures.

Canada Response

 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new

rent subsidy program

which would provide financial resources to property owners and businesses to cover rent payments. The

program would pay 50% of the rent

for 3 months to the building owners, but it requires them to reduce the rent cost and refrain from evicting tenants. The businesses themselves would be required to cover the remaining rent. Last week, Canada received

1 million KN95 respirators from China

, but once tested, the masks did not comply with government standards for use in healthcare settings. The Canadian government is determining whether the respirators are suitable for use in other settings.

UK Prime Minister Returns to Work

In good news,

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

returned to work, several weeks after being diagnosed with and hospitalized for COVID-19.  

Immunity Certificates and Passports

As testing capacity increases worldwide, countries and businesses are developing plans to implement broader testing programs. One particular tool that has been mentioned by health and elected officials in multiple countries is

“immunity passports/certificates”

that could allow those with antibodies to resume normal activities; however, the WHO notes that there is not currently sufficient evidence to determine whether individuals who have been previously infected with COVID-19 are immune to future infections. 

April 27 Topic: Throw out your old playbook and get back to business basics with Lane Merrifield

Special Guest: Lane Merrifield

  • Lane Merrifield is the newest “dragon” to join CBC’s hit show Dragon’s Den and is one of Canada’s leading tech entrepreneurs. He is the founder of Club Penguin, which is the largest children’s online social network. At age 28, he sold it to Disney for $350 million, and, as their youngest executive vice president, turned it into a billion-dollar brand. 

  • Most recently, Lane is the founder of Wheelhouse, an organization that invests in and supports early-stage tech companies and entrepreneurs through mentorship, access to capital, and connections to global business networks.

Interview with Lane

You are our first guest to have actually had the Coronavirus and you’ve been public about it. Can you share more with our audience? 

  • I went on snowboarding trip at the beginning of March prior to the lockdown in Canada. The only requirement of participants was that they had not traveled outside of Canada and he hadn’t travelled anywhere so all was good to go forward. Halfway through the trip a guest was evacuated for coming down with what appeared to be Coronavirus. Turns out he had travelled to Angola prior and didn’t think Coronavirus was serious. The whole group left and self isolated at home. Two days later I showed systems thankfully no hospitalization was needed but it was much worse than the flu. I still only feel partway recovered and it’s been a month. 

Has having the coronavirus impacted the way you are thinking about business/life moving forward? How do you think this applies to our tradespeople?

  • One of my hobbies is that I am a private pilot and when you learn to fly you learn how important it is to remain calm amid turmoil and how to assess the situation and then pour your energy into whatever it is you can control.

  • This is very relevant to the situation we are all facing right now. We cannot control all of it but we should be identifying what we can do and place our energy there rather than worry or fear. 

  • Also, understanding that when life goes back to normal it will be a new normal. You need to let go of what you knew before and use both critical and creative thinking to make predictions about the new normal and how to adjust your business strategy. 

Let’s talk about your entrepreneurial journey. I want to emphasize why we have guests like Lane on. You are all entrepreneurs and the CEOs of your own businesses whether you are 1 person or a 50 truck operation. You need to start thinking of yourself as that, especially when making decisions for your business. Good business is good business. Lane, when we talked last week you said pros need to throw out the old playbook and go back to good business basics - walk us through that please

    • Empathy, trust, and relationships are the key foundations

    • The greatest business trait that any entrepreneur and business owner  can have is empathy for their team and customers. The ability to put yourself mentally into the shoes of someone else allows you to better respond to them be it by creating great products or services that they need or by seeing cultural differences amongst your team and resolving them before they turn into an issue. 

    • Even if you had your customer’s trust prior to COVID-19 you will need to work on rebuilding that trust because the environment right now is one of mistrust and fear. It’s about perceptions, so customers need to perceive you and your business as one that cares about their safety and health.

    • Now is the time to build on and leverage old and new relationships 

How does community fall into this?

  • Your customers are your community and you need to find tools that you can use to keep the community knit together

  • That’s really the key when it comes to community, how you keep it knit together

  • Nurture the community and be consistent. So if your community is online don’t just set up your profile and call it done, continue to post and engage with others. 

  • Post a free tutorial that teaches your community something simple that they can do on their own that you have expertise in

  • Partner with other businesses and promote each other through tagging on Instagram or other social media sites. 

  • “Fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful” - Warren Buffett

  • Now is the time to build a strong foundation and grow your footprint in meaningful ways so that you become their go to person when things open up

If you were receiving the $10,000 EIDL/PPP money (Canadian stimulus package $$), what would be the first thing you do/use it on if you are a carpet cleaning company? 

  • Lane:

    • First thing I would look at is marketing. H

      ow did I market in the past and rebrand

      to market yourself as the safest carpet cleaner to show empathy and respond to customer fear. 

    • Next I would look at retrofitting some tools or maybe renovating a truck and forecast the new reality

  • Alexa:

    • I would first look at areas of the business that are bleeding but really focus on what can I do that my competitors aren’t.

    • I would look at introducing a new service geared specifically at sanitation or safety so if I was a carpet cleaner, I would start a rug pickup drop off service where I would come pick up your rug clean and disinfect and then drop it off. 

What would you be looking for if you were going to invest in a home service company right now?

  • Right now I would look at the owner’s strategy to COVID-19 response and would be looking for those business owners that have lots of ideas with a clear hypothesis about the new normal and what they can do now and after the restrictions are lifted. 

A lot of our pros want to build a client base of celebrities and exclusive customer base, how would home service companies reach you or where do you go for recommendations?

  • I go where everyone else goes for recommendations, my network and then online reviews

  • If there are no reviews this is a red flag and turn off

  • All business listings online need to be completely filled out with accurate information. Nothing is worse than a phone number that ends up being a fax number. 

What are some of the best marketing tools for our Pros?

  • Local forums or Facebook groups are great places to offer advice utilizing your expertise and include a simple ask back that if they found this helpful to like your facebook page and become a part of your community

  • Film yourself doing simple repairs in your own home and post on Youtube and then post on social media to check out your video

Favorite podcasts or books?

What is the #1 action our listeners can do tomorrow to move the needle forward in their post-corona business? 

  • Don’t expect that it will all go back to normal as you knew it otherwise you will be behind

  • Abandon the notion of going back and start from scratch with the perspective to understand how your business will fit and what opportunities will exist that you can go after

  • It’s easy to spin in frustration but the way that you breed creativity is through space and time so give yourself time and space and freedom to take a couple of days and just brainstorm as if you were starting your business from scratch today

Don’t Forget to Join Us Online

Don’t forget to join your regional meetup and learn more about how to navigate this crazy time, with marketing, sales and operations tips. 

Network with other professionals in your area and receive a $15 Grub Hub gift card, just for participating. Register today! 

Keep Your Industry an Essential Service

We’re making it easy to write to your government representatives and send them a letter urging them to classify your industry as an essential service during this time of uncertainty.


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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