FORT MYERS, Fla — There are certain things you expect when you call a plumber to your house. To see the person show up wearing gloves, a mask, and a full-body white suit is probably not one of them.
"Obviously our technicians need to be protected, but so do our customers," Patrick Garner of Next Plumbing says.
Everyone needs to protect themselves during the Coronavirus pandemic. And that means some businesses, like Next Plumbing, have to change the way they do things. Fox 4 is with you during these troubling times, and we're telling stories about what locally owned businesses are doing to adjust and how they're innovating to stay open. We call the series "We're Open Southwest Florida."
For Garner, the changes start with clear communication.
"I'm trying to get the word out to as many of our customers as possible, for these essential companies, not just ourselves, but your electricians, your mechanics, your plumbers, only call if you need emergency service," he says. "We can certainly provide help to anybody that needs it, but maybe just hold off until this pandemic has passed so we can truly address the needs of the people who need it the most."
For those customers with emergencies, Next says it's spent $16,000 to make sure you feel comfortable having plumbers come into your house. During the pandemic, they say they will take every worker's temperature when they show up in the morning, and if someone is sick, they will send them home. They also have masks and gloves that workers will wear when they go inside a home. And if the homeowner requests it, the plumber will also wear a full-body Tyvek suit.
Next Plumbing says it's also turned its conference room at their Fort Myers office into a lab of sorts. The owners are making their own hand sanitizer for workers, and they have donated some of it to local hospitals, as well.
For customers who do not have emergencies, the company just launched a new virtual plumber's visit. At no cost, one of their master plumbers will video chat with you to figure out what's wrong, and if possible, help you fix the problem. If you don't have the tools, they'll loan some out to you.
Garner says the bottom line is, you can't get overwhelmed by the things you can't control. Right now, he says, you have to concentrate on what you can do.
"Reach out to your neighbors, if you have more supplies than you need, reach out to your neighbors and the small businesses. Do what you can to help each other," he says. "Because once this is over, we're going to have to live together and we're going to have to work together. We need these small businesses to support each other. Reach out to your friends, reach out to your neighbors, stay at home if you can, and persevere."
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