It goes without saying that 2020 was a year of change. Entire industries were shaken and forced to change in the face of the pandemic, and the chimney industry was no different.
Now that we’re starting to see the light of day, we wanted to look back and reflect on all the changes — good and bad — that we’ve implemented to better serve you and your family.
The chimney business isn’t just about installing fireplaces for families to enjoy. Often we’re called out to assess real damage to someone’s home that has implications for the health and safety of their home and their family.
Fixing leaks and cracks isn’t just a vanity project — they can spell incredibly costly damage if untreated. So when the pandemic hit and it was unclear which industries would be allowed to continue operating, it was no surprise to us that chimney businesses were deemed “essential.”
Becoming “essential” meant that we could continue operating, but it also meant that we had to think quickly to operate in the world of the pandemic. Read on and you’ll see how we’ve pivoted and found steady new ground.
PUTTING SAFETY FIRST
When your job is making sure that people can light a fire in their home without burning the house down, it should go without saying that safety is your top priority every day. We go into more than 1,000 homes every year, so we make sure to treat every customer and their family’s health and well-being with the respect they deserve.
Part of keeping our customers and crew safe in 2020 meant reducing contact wherever it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Here are a few changes we made to commit to healthy and safety:
- Photo submissions — There’s no better way to understand the scope of a chimney problem than seeing it in person, but photos can do the trick in a pinch. At the onset of the pandemic, we upgraded our website so our customers could upload photos and give us a visual heads-up about the project.
- Virtual appointments — This one’s a no-brainer. Like every other personal or professional meeting during the pandemic, we went digital for certain meetings with our customers. We found that we were able to help with quick and easy asks without ever stepping foot into a home.
- Online payment — Handling payments on the job site usually means passing paper and pens back and forth for signatures. While we’re still flexible with how customers choose to pay, we’ve implemented a handy Pay Now button on our website to reduce contact.
- Masking up and speaking up — Face masks were another no-brainer, but we also made conversations around safety a priority with our customers. We’re coming into your home, and we’ll do whatever makes you 100% comfortable while we’re there.
- Reducing hours — Before the pandemic, it wasn’t unusual for our crew to be on the job site from early morning until late in the afternoon. We decided to cut our hours in 2020, so that we’re out of a customer’s home before evening. That way we minimize contact and put the physical and mental health of our crew first.
Just like many other industries in 2021, the chimney industry is facing materials shortages that can have a real impact on how quickly a project can be completed. Certain parts for wood stoves and gas fireplaces aren’t readily available and might take weeks for the supply chain to catch up to demand.
The way we’re responding to this particular challenge is by building what we can, when we can. If we’re just waiting on one module for a gas fireplace, for example, we’ll start building the fireplace now. It will be nonfunctional, but when the final part arrives in a couple weeks, we’ll return and complete the project quickly.
While we have preferred vendors for parts and materials, we’re also able to explore options to secure parts quicker. If your gas fireplace is a priority for your family, we can find a quality vendor who might be able to supply the materials quicker than others.
In many ways, 2020 changed the chimney industry for the better. We were able to provide real respite for families across Indiana, while taking meaningful steps to keep our customers and crew safer than ever.
We also implemented new tools and processes that made getting the job done more efficient, and we continue to explore how we can best secure materials in the quickest and most cost-efficient way possible.
When you trust us with your chimney or fireplace, you can trust that we’ll do the job right and do right by your family. We’re coming out the other side of the pandemic better able to serve you, and we thank you for the opportunity for all the years to come!