Mike Cappuccio, owner of N.E.T.R. Inc, a heating and cooling company, discusses coronavirus protocols. N.E.T.R. is back to serving customers after a brief period of having employees work from home.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Mike Cappuccio, owner of N.E.T.R. Inc., a heating and cooling company in Massachusetts. Today we’re talking about N.E.T.R.’s coronavirus protocols. Welcome, Mike.
Mike Cappuccio: Hi John. How are you?
John: Good, thanks. So Mike, I heard you’re back up and running now after a little bit of a period of time where some workers had to work from home and that kind of thing, but you’re back up and running again. Can you just give us a little update on where things stand?
NETR Employees Return to Work
Mike: Yeah, it’s been a challenging six weeks, John, six to seven weeks, I’m going to be honest with you, but we’ve really never been closed. I mean, we definitely had a reduced staff from about 48 employees down to about maybe four on payroll at one point in time. Over the last two weeks we’ve got about, let’s say about 65% of our workforce is back right now. We’re staging it slowly. We’re bringing it back on. We’re turning the dimmer switch up a lot, slow. We’re monitoring things as we’re going along, but we found before we could really start to do that, that we had to really put guidelines in place, and what we were doing, and write preparedness plans and preparation plans and a disaster plan just in case something happens inside of your office or something happens in someone’s home.
We really took this pretty serious when we sat down and looked at this. Continuing changes in the CDC guidelines and what’s happening. We’ve gone in and we’ve looked at those pretty heavily and we’ve looked at what we need to do for our technicians, what we need to do for our office staff. We’re going to adhere to the guidelines of what they had and we felt like we put a real good plan together so we could give the people that we’re going to work for a good sense of comfort when we come into your home. Do you know what I mean? I mean, this is a tough time for everybody, when we look at what’s going on, so I can share with you some of those measures that we took to be as compliant as we could as possible.
New Coronavirus Protocols In-Office
John: Absolutely. Why don’t you talk a little bit about that? What measures have you implemented to make sure both that you’re keeping your employees who are going out into the field safe, and then also, how are you protecting your customers at home or in businesses to make sure that they’re staying safe as you’re coming into their home or business to do work?
Mike: First off, we’re having our office cleaned extensively each week there, including a safe disinfectant that’s sprayed once a week. They come in and they basically just fog the office. You come in the next morning, all your papers are curled on your desk. I don’t know what it is, but it’s pretty powerful and it smells really potent. When you come in the next day, your eyes hurt for about the first half hour, so I know it’s doing something. All the hard surfaces in the office, including door knobs, faucets, computers, phones, and common areas are being wiped down every four hours in the building. We actually have our warehouse staff, they’ve been trained now what to do every four hours in this. It might sound a little crazy, but we do it every four hours.
We wipe down with Clorox bleach wipes. It is strong. It does kill germs. You do know when our gentlemen walked through the office and they wiped down the light switches, they wiped down the bathrooms. Bathrooms are getting cleaned every night as well. We’re highly recommending that every time a toilet gets flushed, the toilets are closed as well. Not just open, open flushes aren’t good.
Most of our office staff is working remotely still. People that are in the office. We’ve got about 35% of our people in the office. They are required to wear gloves, face masks, and booties. Those are all being provided at the front door when they walk in in the morning to put on, to reduce the spread of germs throughout. I didn’t know it, but coronavirus can live on the bottom of your shoes. That was kind of kind of a thing.
Also, each individual office staff, they’ve been administered their own personal thermometer. Per the CDC guidelines, they come in in the morning. When they log in on their computer, we have a popup box now that comes up and you have to log in your temperature. Each person logs in their temperature in the morning and they log it in at the end of the day. Anything over 100.4, you have to go home. Talk to your manager, and you have to go home at that point. I didn’t even know this, John, but there’s a certain way to take your temperature. They tell you don’t take your temperature if you’ve just driven to work over the past 20 minutes or so and you’ve had a very, very hot cup of coffee and you’re coming to sit down. You don’t take your temperature for another 20 minutes.
John: Right, because they artificially raise your temperature.
Mike: Yeah, it raises things. It doesn’t give them a proper reading. All company meetings that we’re doing are all being done via video conferencing. We’ve had Microsoft Teams installed on all our computers throughout everyone that works from home and everyone that works in the office. I know everyone’s been seeing the commercials on TV. We’ve been working on Teams and I’m going to tell you, it’s been a lifesaver. Even if someone’s in the next office, we’re talking through Teams. We’re not going into different offices and talking to different people. We’re practicing the … I call it, my little joke is the safe six, stay six feet away. The social distancing thing is happening. The six feet away. Lunchroom’s been closed down. Nobody’s allowed in the lunchroom. We’ve shut that down.
The frequent hand washing is going on with the CDC guidelines. We have hand sanitizer placed all throughout the building, and constantly disinfecting. No outside visitors are allowed in the building at this time. Everything’s been posted. Our front doors are locked. No service technicians are allowed in the building either. We have our whole loading dock taped off so you can’t get in. Everything is pretty much boxed out.
We’re also not having the techs come in at all. We’re having them call and we’re bringing their material out to them. We’re placing it in a certain area. We’re walking away and then they’re picking up what we’ve placed. Everything has been de-sanitized too before that. Everything’s being sprayed with CD 64 before it leaves the building. In other words, if we have a filter job for you that’s going on today and we’re going to be coming out and putting filters into your unit, they’ve already been all disinfected before you’ve put those into your units out in the field. That’s pretty much what we’re doing inside the office.
New Coronavirus Protocols During Service
John: Okay. What about when you go outside and you’re going to somebody’s home or their office? What kind of measures are you taking there?
Mike: We’ve got a couple of different measures there, John. The salespeople, the comfort consultants, we are finding some people aren’t letting us into their home. The salespeople are outside. Comfort consultants are to follow the same protocol as the inside people that I just read about with what they have to wear into a home, logging their temperature, doing everything like that. They’re all expected to do that as well. One thing they have added is safety glasses. They’re wearing face protection. They do have Tyvec suits. If needed. If a customer wants them to put a white Tyvec suit on to come into the home, we will do that. We do have those available.
We’re trying to limit our comfort consultants appointments right now to 30 minutes in the home. We’re not letting any tablets touch, no more paperwork coming into the home. Before we would go into a home, we would have a nice foldout packet for you with everything in it, with brochures and things like that would be there and certificates of insurance and other things like that. We’re not bringing any paperwork in. We’re emailing everything. Everything is getting emailed to the customer. When they go back out into the truck or into their automobile to send everything, that’s all being sent like that.
John: That’s good. That saves paper too, so that’s nice.
Mike: Yeah, saves paper. I never even thought of that. Maybe we should just send that electronically anyway with the printing cost and everything. I like it. It’s a nice personal touch of what we’re doing with that. We are still continuing to do that. We’re putting that all together like that. When the technicians are coming out into your homes, like I said, they’re having their trucks loaded by the warehouse manager, eliminating them to come into the building. They’re leaving the material outside. All the boxes I told you about, those are all coming, all sanitized. They’re all being sprayed before they leave the warehouse.
When we’re installing in a home, we’re only letting one person go into a home now. We’re not bringing any drop cloths into a home. We’re doing everything with new, fresh stick plastic that sticks onto the floor. We have two different types of stick plastic. One we’ll stick on hardwood floor one, we’ll stick on carpet. We’re not bringing in drop cloths and we’re disposing of that every day. The technicians aren’t walking on the customer’s floors.
When the items are being loaded into the truck prior to leaving, we’re asking them to take the items out of the boxes and dispose of the cardboard boxes here. We have a whole protocol on just how to deposit cardboard right now and where to put it. We don’t bring cardboard boxes into people’s homes. We don’t want to be doing that. All the technicians are driving their own trucks. If they need to go into another truck, the truck needs to be sanitized before they can go into that truck. We don’t want guys swapping trucks. No two guys go to lunch together in the same truck, no traveling together. We’re not doing any travel. We’re not doing any overnight stays anywhere or anything like that if we’re traveling to a different state or something like that, to work.
Personal requirements for the techs in the field, again, the same protocol for the office people, how they are doing that. They’re required to take their temperature every day. Any elevated temperatures, they’re supposed to let us know. All technicians going into a home are wearing booties, masks, eye protection, gloves prior to entering the home. A Tyvec suit can be worn if requested. They all have them in their trucks. We have multiple Tyvec suits. They have portable hand washing stations in their trucks, too. We found that washing with soap and water was just as good as the hand sanitizer. We do have hand sanitizer, but we have five gallon water jugs with almost like spigots on them, that they can turn the water on and off and wash their hands. The hand washing is going on regularly.
Tools, tablets, and phones and other personal items, they’re not sharing between employees. We don’t want technicians sharing tools when they’re doing a job, and we want tools all being wiped down that night with Clorox wipes. They have multiple cans of Clorox wipes in their trucks that they’re wiping things down with, so that’s being all cleaned. There’s no apprentices on job sites at this time. It’s just a lead and an installer. We’re not doing any training, putting three people at a home. No more than two people at a time.
All of this, the cardboard and the protective gear and the gloves and the masks and everything, are all being disposed of at our location. We don’t want anything being disposed of at a customer’s home or a commercial business or anything like that, being put into dumpsters. We only want to be using our own trash and our own dumpsters at that time. We’ve got a whole protocol all in writing that we’ve been sending out to our customers too, just telling them, hey, this is what we’re doing, and trying to prevent the spread. We’re just really trying our best and we’re being as cautious as we can at what we’re doing right now to try and stay safe. I really just hope all of this works. I really do. I want this to go away soon and I want us all to really get back to work and try to get back to a normal life.
Remote Business Activities
John: Right. Of course. You mentioned that you’re delivering brochures and things like that through email. Now, are you also able to have people sign their contracts online, through email, as opposed to having to sign it in person?
Mike: Yeah, as a matter of fact, just before this podcast, John, I was doing a one hour session on everything now with our financing and everything is all being done remotely. We have a new finance button on our website that you can just click onto the website. It brings you right to Synchrony Bank’s website. You can apply for your financing right there. We’ve instituted a 0% for 48 months for payments right now that we’ve gotten some great rates through our bank to do that. Obviously no interest to the customer, a little bit of a rate to us, but we’re going to take that and run with it.
Everything is completely being done from here in the office and all electronic signatures, everything coming back. They just do an electronic signature saying that the job’s been installed. No one’s touching any money. We don’t want technicians touching credit cards. We’re letting the customer call the credit card in. We’re not even doing swipes out in the field anymore. We don’t even want the technicians touching credit cards as well, or money.
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Mike, and I hope everybody stays safe. Thanks for the update.
Mike: All right, John. Thanks for your time, appreciate it.
John: For more information, you can visit the N.E.T.R. Website at netrinc.com or call 781-933-NETR. That’s 781-933-6387.