Commonly Asked Coronavirus Questions for Home Services

Commonly Asked Coronavirus Questions for Home Services

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Posted by EJ Brown

April 6, 2020

We'll continue to add and answer questions from home services nightly webinars and the

coronavirus Facebook group

. Click the topics below to navigate through different sections:


Can I apply for both an economic disaster loan and the paycheck loan (PPL)? 

Businesses can apply for both an

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)


Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan

as long as the funds will be used in different ways. You must use the PPP loan for very specific purposes, including employee salaries and wages, including benefits, vacation, and paid sick leave, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. Economic Injury Disaster Loans can be used for payroll costs, increased material costs, rent or mortgage payments, or for repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses. 

Will they look at my credit score when I’m applying for SBA loans?

Regarding the emergency disaster loans (EIDL), the SBA will be taking credit scores into account. There are no credit requirements for payment protection program (PPP) loans.

What kinds of lenders should I avoid?

Avoid any lender that says they’re going to charge you. Be especially wary of names you don’t recognize. Look for SBA-accredited banks and lenders. You can find a list of lenders who provide PPP loans here:


How can I be proactive about my finances right now?

Brandon Vaughn, Chief Strategist of the

AGS Conquer

business program, suggests starting with a

90-day financial plan

. The plan can tell you exactly how long you could stay operational without new sources of revenue coming in. It will also help you be in a better position to understand your credit needs and be prepared to apply, as needed.

Safety and Operations

When should I send a sick employee home?

The CDC states that employees who exhibit symptoms of influenza-like illness at work during a pandemic should leave the workplace. An employer may require workers to go home if they exhibit symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus or the flu.

Can I require my office staff to work from home?

Yes. An employer may encourage or require employees to telework as an infection-control or prevention strategy, including based on timely information from public health authorities about pandemics, public health emergencies, or other similar conditions.

If you’re considered an essential business, where do you draw the line on calls to take?

This is a question of assessing the risk to you, your employees, your families, and customers. Here are two responses from pros in a

pro service panel

: Zach Crider, who works in HVAC, has been doing just about every appliance repair call but eliminated installations. John Cipres handles property management services and is getting a lot of plumbing backup calls and is comfortable doing any of the outside jobs. He’s more selective about which inside jobs they are taking. In other words, can it wait?

Whenever you do choose to take a service call, it’s important to follow safety protocols to protect everyone involved. We’ve outlined

safety protocols per OSHA and the CDC that impact small businesses


Can I take my employee's temperature before allowing them to work?

Yes. Taking an employee’s temperature will generally qualify as a medical examination, which the Americans with Disabilities Act restricts. Nevertheless, because COVID-19 has become widespread and is more severe than seasonal flu, the EEOC suggests that it is likely that employers are justified in taking employees’ temperature. 

This same reasoning could support asking such questions even if employees have not affirmatively reported feeling ill; as long as employers are not selective about asking these questions (e.g., asking only older people or people of a specific national origin), asking these questions is likely low-risk under current conditions. However, “all information about employee illness” must be “maintain[ed]. . . as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.”

What’s the best way to notify customers about changes to your business regarding this crisis?

We encourage businesses to send out an email to all customers regarding company policies around safety procedures, what services you’re offering, and any other major changes. If you are not using an automated email platform, now is a good time to set one up.  

In this video

, we walk you through just how easy it is to set up a Mailchimp account and import your customer list.

Before any appointment, reach out via text or email to let costumes know what to expect in a service call. Give them a chance to set preferences such as no-contact calls.

In this post

, we share email and text templates you can personalize for your business. 


Should I lay off my employees so they can get unemployment?

Generally, no. For example, in CA, if your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim without being let go. Keeping your employees on part-time may help you ramp up more quickly when the need arises. Learn more about

unemployment options for home service businesses


The stimulus act was designed to help businesses keep their employees on the payroll through the

Paycheck Protection Program

and other tax benefits.

Can my employees get FMLA?

The existing FMLA is job protection, not monetary benefits.  The Families First Act requires businesses to provide ten weeks of extended FMLA leave for employees that are unable to work due to a need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19. You will be responsible for paying two-thirds of an employees’ salary who is taking this extended FMLA leave.

Learn more about how the Families First Act impacts home service businesses


If we do have to reduce salaries or let someone go, what’s the best way to present this?

Transparency always wins.  Be honest which will help you maintain good relationships with your people and they will be willing to come back on with you later.

Before you make a decision, talk to your employees. Perhaps they already have a lead for part-time work, and you can negotiate how to keep them on the payroll.

They may also have ideas that you haven’t thought of for services to offer or other skillsets they possess.

Some employees are scared about their rent, family and jobs.  How do we keep our employees calm during this time?

Your employees rely on you to stay informed about the current situation and the status of your business, and then keep them informed, as well. Even if you’re offering less-than-ideal information, they will be reassured by your transparency and your commitment to do what you can for them.

You don’t have to shoulder 100% of the burden. There are local and national assistance programs. Also show them that you’re keeping busy and working on bringing in the business, especially if you can do this in a way that won’t negatively impact others.

HCP Features/Product Ideas That Can Help

Use automated texts

sent after a new job is created and when you’re on your way to a customer’s home to share information about safety protocols. Let your customers know what to expect that’s out of the norm (such as not to expect a handshake or a request to stay six feet away from your technician).

Many pros are moving to

virtual estimates

to reduce time spent in customer’s houses. You can

create and send estimates via text or email

and stay on the phone or video conference while your customer looks it over.

If you’re moving to no-contact service calls, you can collect payments through

automated invoices


Postcards are a memorable way to get in touch with your customers.

Housecall Pro users can automatically send postcards

to their users through the platform. We’ve designed a number of postcards you can choose from related to the crisis to send a timely and relevant message. Postcards are half-price through April, 2020. 


....Questions and Answers coming soon


...Questions and Answers coming soon

Legal & Government

...Questions and Answers coming soon

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