COVID 19: Peer Sharing and Best Practices

BY Sarah Jilbert
3/26/2020 - HVAC Employment , HVAC Operations , COVID-19

A survey was sent out this week to distributors in states that have a Stay at Home Order asking how they are operating at their branches since being considered “essential business” by their local governments. Over 30 distributor companies responded. See the results from your peers below.

How is your company getting product to customers?

  • Curbside Pick Up- 85%
  • Delivery- 76%
  • Counter- 42%
  • Other- 36% (Locker, UPS, FedEx, direct from manufacturer/vendor)

*A lot of policy variations: some are doing curbside only, others delivery only, and some are leaving it up to what the customer prefers.

What operational procedures have changed in your business since the Stay at Home Order?

Product to customer:

  • Asking customers to call in orders, email, text or enter online.
  • Placing tables in front of counters to maintain a safe distance.
  • Contact free transactions. No signatures at keypad and asking customers to take pen used.
  • If ordering by counter, ask customer to wait in vehicle until order is ready at the dock.
  • When giving product to customer place product on ground, walk away, and then allow them to pick up the product. Maintain 6-10ft separation.
  • Leaving delivery outside customer location- call ahead to communicate where they want it dropped.
  • Taking picture at delivery site instead of asking for a signature.
  • Offering free delivery.
  • Communicating operating policies to customers.
  • No sales contact with customers other than phone or video conferencing. Calling daily to check in. 

Inside facility

  • Shutting down show rooms.
  • Limiting number of people and number of customers allowed in building. Some aren’t allowing any customers in building.
  • Wiping counters between customers.
  • Putting signs up to make sure staff and customers are clear of cleaning and operating policies. Check out these social distancing signs.
  • Removing all food, coffee and condiments.
  • Cleaning every 30 minutes. Prioritize common touch points.
  • No cash transactions.
  • Putting tape lines on the floor to communicate proper distance.
  • Using sneeze shields
  • Dedicating a sanitizing employee or team in every location.
  • Asking inbound drivers to call and stay out of warehouse.
  • Closing lunchrooms.
  • Providing all stores with professional strength hand soap and cleaning products.


  • Splitting shifts. Alternating employee workdays or work weeks. Some have cut 50% of hours others are allowing those on off week/day to support from home.
  • Rotating order takers one per day in parts area.
  • Checking temperature before reporting to work.
  • Instituting work from home for sales, marketing, purchasing, admin and others that do not need to be on site.
  • Issuing gloves and protective eyewear to employees.
  • Limiting travel policy. Travel ban.
  • Increasing online training.
  • No face to face meetings. Encouraging use of webinars, skype, zoom, etc.
  • Keeping sick people home.
  • Promoting proper hygiene as outlined by the CDC.

What is your plan should one of your employees test positive for COVID-19?

  • Please work with your state and local governments as their may be closure mandates and other guidelines your company must follow in the event of a positive case of COVID-19.
  • CDC has released guidelines on how to clean a facility that has had a confirmed case of COVID-19 in it and recommends all employees that came in contact with the infected employee to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Remember employers need to follow confidentiality laws relating to health issues, so if someone does become sick it cannot be announced who it is without getting the employees permission. 
  • Flip crews and send everyone on the current crew home for quarantine. 
  • Shut down, quarantine and clean extensively.
  • Keep employee isolated at home and investigate others that could have exposed and send them home for 14 days.
  • Furloughed a back up crew to be available if such an event should happen. Have employees available from other locations if necessary.
  • Close office, work from home, hire cleaning crew and re-evaluate office.
  • Team on duty will quarantine with pay. A review of sales for the day will reveal who else may have been exposed during curbside pick-up. Professional cleaning team will come in before reopening.

Other words of advice from peers:

  • “Communicate daily with employees what “the plan” is”
  • “Over communicating helps everyone”
  • “Make sure good communication is flowing out to your employees so there is no room for rumors to fly”
  • “Encourage all wholesalers to take this issue seriously”
  • “Keep calm, be smart, wash your hands”

If you have other tips, operational procedure changes or words of advice for your peers please submit them here. If you have any questions for HARDI please submit them here.

All best practices were provided by Distributor Member Companies, or recommendations from the CDC.