COVID-19 is bringing everyone online – even your handyman

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COVID-19 is bringing everyone online - even your handyman
COVID-19 is bringing everyone online - even your handyman

Pivoting your business to a digital model is less obvious when your work relies not only on your physical presence but also your dexterity. However, some resourceful entrepreneurs are finding ways to do exactly that.

The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a rapid adoption of digital solutions, such as video conferencing, contactless payments and e-commerce tools, as businesses reengineer interactions with their employees and customers to adapt to lockdown restrictions and social distancing. Business apps, including video conferencing and collaboration tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, saw a 90% increase in downloads in March 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Pivoting your business to a digital model is less obvious when your work relies not only on your physical presence but also your dexterity. However, some resourceful entrepreneurs are finding ways to do exactly that.

Enrico Madden, who owns a small construction company in Strandfontein, Cape Town, has started advising his customers over the phone and through WhatsApp video calls. “I’ve helped over 20 customers to do things like repairing broken paving, replacing a window pane or fixing a cupboard hinge,” says Madden.

“It started when I gave advice to a lady on how to deal with a termite issue on a Facebook group. She came back to say that my advice worked, and from there people started contacting me, and I charged them for my advice. It’s a matter of survival and necessity for me. My wife has been kept in hospital with a heart condition during the lockdown, and I’m taking care of my two year-old on my own,” adds Madden.

“Enrico is one of the service providers on our platform and he shared his story with us as we were in the midst of exploring alternative income generating opportunities for service providers,” says Arjun Khoosal, co-Founder of Kandua, the largest online marketplace for independent professionals and small home service businesses in South Africa. “This inspired our new DIY Coach solution, which connects you to an expert to walk you through your home repair or maintenance issue over the phone, whether that be fixing a broken light, unblocking a toilet or mowing your lawn.”

Emergency home repair services such as plumbers, electricians and locksmiths are listed as essential services during the lockdown and continue to operate. “As you spend more time at home than ever before, you may run into problems that would not constitute an emergency, but that you would like to address. DIY Coach helps service providers to keep at their trade, while helping you to keep your home in good shape,” says Khoosal. Emergency repair services can also be booked through Kandua, which has over 8 000 vetted and experienced independent home service providers and small businesses on its platform.

Small businesses have been severely impacted by the crisis. In a recent survey by Stats SA, over 80% of small businesses surveyed reported a drop in turnover, and over 40% expressed doubt that they have the financial resources to continue operations. Exploring digital alternatives to standard business models may be one way to adapt to the crisis, but this may be a challenge that many small businesses, especially those in the informal sector are not equipped for.

“Kandua was started with the mission to use technology to enable decent, dignified work for small service businesses. We have made an effort to ensure that our tools are simple and easy to use, even for people who have limited exposure to technology. DIY Coach is another way that we are doing this, at a time when this is more needed than ever,” says Khoosal.

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