Alaskan businesses are facing unprecedented times. Many have been forced to temporarily close their doors. Many have transitioned to working from home as best they can. Many are looking outside the box to see how they can keep trading in the midst of a health crisis.
Some have found themselves able to help their communities in new ways.
ServiceMaster of Alaska is one of them. The home restoration business, based in Anchorage, has always prided itself on being local. They know, for example, what it’s like to experience a bust pipe at 2:00 a.m. or find your not-so-friendly neighborhood bear or moose wreaking havoc on your property. It normally deals with things like water removal, fire damage, mold damage or odors.
Right now, however, it’s bidding for jobs to help Alaskan businesses disinfect their premises in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19, a highly infectious illness also sometimes referred to as coronavirus.
It’s not the front line of the crisis, but it’s a pivot designed to better serve the community.
“We have a dedicated crew that has stepped up, and they’re ready and trained for COVID cleaning,” says Kara MacDonald, Vice President and Director of Communication of ServiceMaster of Alaska.
“We’ve sent out quite a few generic bids to a lot of companies preparing to be proactive, just in case. We’re actually finishing up a job today that was our first larger-size COVID disinfect clean-up for a company. We’re very good about privacy, this is a sensitive topic. We take this very seriously.”
Embracing new technologies
Like many Alaskan businesses, ServiceMaster of Alaska is actively embracing new technologies as it looks for new ways to support its client base. In recent weeks, team members have actually used FaceTime to talk to customers about upcoming projects.
Kara says sometimes you have to be a little creative in the way you solve problems.
They’re also delivering products at people’s doors and doing everything they can to help their customers stabilize their properties until the crew can get in to begin the restoration.
“We’ve gotten very familiar with FaceTime and other technology,” she says.
“We’ve actually been called on to help our adjustors because a lot of them are saying their companies won’t let them go into homes to do inspections right now.”
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Maintaining company values
The change of direction reflects the business’s goal of restoring peace of mind to Alaskans. They’ve been doing it for the past 50 years, so it makes sense that they’ve been so quick to respond.
“I always say hopefully you never need us, but if you do, you know who you need to call. This is one of those times we’ve had to set up quickly,” says Kara.
“Our crew, they’ve been so good about following the CDC guidelines and making sure we’re safe and our customers are safe. That’s first and foremost. We’ve also had support from our corporate office, making sure we’re following the right protocol and doing the right procedures and that our products are approved on the right EPA and CDC lists.”
The United States now has the third-highest rate of infection, behind Italy and Spain. At the time of writing, there have been at least 143 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alaska.
Supporting other businesses
Businesses are taking it very seriously and doing what they can to help slow the spread. Kara says it’s been amazing to see how the business community has come together.
“I joke that we’re all frenemies, but we’re in this together,” she laughs.
“You know what? We’re Alaska strong. We’re going to get through this. We’re contacting other fellow industry owners and we’re sharing and communicating. I think that’s only making us better. I lean on my team. I lean on my faith and my family and other female entrepreneurs of Alaska.”
She says it’s important to continue thinking outside the box, embracing technology, and focusing on what you can to do better help your clients through this period of uncertainty.
“For us, the key is education – staying true to what we do and who we are – and giving information to the public. We let them determine what they need from us and what we can do to help them.”
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