May 6 was National Skilled Trades Day. It’s a day of recognition for those who roll up their sleeves every single day to service your home when you need it most. These are the small businesses you trust when your bathroom is flooded, when your air conditioning dies in the dead of summer, or when you need help rewiring your basement. They keep your home and community running, and your family safe.

With government-mandated stay-at-home orders, some of these small businesses are suffering. Many of them have seen an income decline of 30 percent or more, and a few of them won’t make it through to the other side of this pandemic. That is why it is so important to both recognize and lend support to these small businesses today who are always there for us when we need them.

Supporting small home service businesses means supporting the backbone of our economy, and of your local communities. These businesses need you now, so that they can be there for you later. Here are some thoughts that can go a long way to strengthening home service businesses and help local skilled workers survive this challenging time.

Communication is Key

When our news apps and emails are overwhelmed with information and updates on the pandemic, oftentimes the last thing that business owners want to do is add fuel to that fire by sending out multiple updates to customers. It’s really valuable for them to hear from their clients though, so reach out. A lot of these business owners are working in empty shops. While their staff is working from home and limiting trips for essential check-ins and supplies pick-ups, a quick call or an email to check in with them would mean a lot.

Graham Audenart, owner of Painters Enterprise in Edmonton, Alberta says “I would love a customer to call me and say, ‘When this is over, I will be calling you’—hearing that from a customer would be huge and would give me permission to reach out to other customers more.”

The skilled trade service providers we work with are following all the government-mandated requirements to work safely—for both their clients and for themselves. If you need services and you find these emails in your inbox, I encourage you to reach out and let them know – even if the services you want completed aren’t in the near term.

Book Ahead

We see a lot of communities buying gift cards to local shops and restaurants to show their support for small businesses during this time – and while purchasing gift cards aren’t possible with a lot of skilled trade businesses, there are still ways to show support. The equivalent for these companies that may have felt decreased business activity is to book a service in advance.

Look towards the next few months and see what services you’ll need. If you were planning on adding a new light fixture or servicing your air conditioning unit in time for summer, get a booking in a local business’ calendar to help them better assess their future work volume and help them determine how much staff they will need to carry.

Provide a Safe Environment

When you need something fixed – such as a clogged pipe or broken furnace – these businesses are on the front lines. With the current climate we’re in, skilled trades that provide these emergency services don’t have the luxury of keeping employees isolated, so they sometimes have an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. It’s important to remember that these employees have families at home as well, and it’s a homeowner’s job to respect the measures they set on their job-site (your home) so that they can do their jobs safely.

Look out for ways you can make their experience as safe as possible. Does the business offer online quoting and invoicing? Are online, contactless payments an option? Consider these seemingly minor things to keep all parties protected.

Rely on Your Home Service Network for New Job Referrals

If you need a new service done on your home and haven’t yet chatted with a contractor, turn to a service provider you’ve used in the past for recommendations. Your local business community is working together through their successes and hardships and they are looking to help each other when they can through referrals. Businesses can also often pair up on jobs. For instance, a plumber might have a close electrician contact at another company to help tackle more complex jobs.

Asking a familiar face for a referral is a great way to show support for your local community and skilled workers, while also ensuring you’re bringing in a company with a good reputation that someone you already work with trusts.

Show Gratitude and Share the Good Word

All of these ideas are really about telling small skilled trades businesses that you appreciate their continued efforts to keep you safe and comfortable. It’s really simple to reach out and thank these companies – whether it be for a past job or an ongoing job. The simple gesture of sharing thanks publicly on social media, or from positive reviews on company websites or other review sites such as Yelp, can have a huge impact on the success of these businesses.

Courageous, genuine, tenacious, compassionate, community minded and selfless — small business people are some of the best humans I’ve come across. Despite that times are tough, uncertain, even a little scary, I’m seeing them give back to their communities if and when they can. We’ve heard stories about these companies checking in on the homes of clients who are on military deployment, delivering catering to frontline healthcare workers, or picking up food bank donations from client homes. In these tough times,  showing support for these unheralded and invaluable professionals is an important way you can have an impact on your community and the economic recovery of its small businesses.

It’s never too late to give these skilled trades businesses the attention, gratitude and recognition that they deserve, and come together as a community to ensure that when the time comes, everyone is back on their feet. So please, support these people if and when you can.

Throughout his 15-year career as a software developer, management consultant and founder, Sam has embodied the entrepreneurial spirit. While working alongside companies to understand their problems and build software solutions to help them move faster, he started to see a trend – a lot of inefficient, manual work was being done by small businesses, and it was slowing down an industry that everyone in the community needed. This led Sam to the idea that software could do more than fix a single process problem — it could modernize processes for the entire small business industry. Fast forward 8 years and Sam is the driving force behind Jobber, leading the company as it builds products that transform the way small home service businesses operate.

Sam Pillar is the CEO & Co-founder of Jobber.

Electrician stock photo by SpeedKingz/Shutterstock