Businesses exist to solve problems and/or meet market needs. One of the biggest problems that every country in the world faces right now is the COVID-19 epidemic which has brought the whole world to a standstill. Zimbabwe has not been spared—as of the time of writing the number of cases in the country has been rising exponentially and is now well into the thousands. Many of our social and business activities have been affected and it is suspected that even after the pandemic has been brought under control, many businesses will not be able to reopen. However, in all of this, products and services which can help control the spread of the virus and the impact of its effects have become increasingly crucial. Some of the most in-demand of these are disinfection services. The demand for these will continue to increase with the number of infections in the country.
Since some forms of social, leisurely and economic activity are ultimately unavoidable, regular disinfection has become an in-demand necessity in places like offices, factories, public transportation, mines and other public facilities. When you provide this service, not only will you earn an income through the duration of the pandemic but you will also be playing an active and crucial role in stemming its tide. This article is meant to guide those who wish to start providing this service to the homes and businesses in their communities.
Coronavirus disinfection basics
If you have ever seen companies which provide this service in action you may be intimated by the expertise and resources which you think are required but fear not; it turns out that what many disinfection companies are doing may be overkill at best or just ineffective at its worst. According to the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, most of the more complicated disinfecting techniques such as spraying and fumigating are not recommended because they are unreliable. These should instead supplement other, more effective ones. It also turns out that spraying people with disinfectant (e.g. in tunnels, cabinets or chambers) is a big no-no. This is because most disinfectants are harmful when inhaled, so such techniques may cause more health problems than they solve or prevent.
Believe it or not, the best disinfection strategy that is recommended by W.H.O is simply first cleaning the surface with soap or detergent and then wiping with a cloth soaked in disinfectant solution (the chemical must remain on the surface long enough to kill the germs). Not to rain on anyone’s parade but disinfection is that simple, regardless of the number of resources you or your clients have. So as you can see, according to W.H.O guidelines, your disinfection service should be nothing more sophisticated than just a specialized cleaning service.
As the popular saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Like any other kind of business, you need a plan before you dive into this one. As part of your planning, you must choose a target market and calculate the money that will be required not only to start the business and but to also keep it running.
Choose a target market
I earlier listed facilities which may need disinfection services but unfortunately you cannot serve every one of these. You need to choose a target market which you can serve most efficiently and profitably. For instance, while you may be tempted to pursue bigger companies or those with larger facilities because of the size of the potential payday, the work may be beyond your resources and capabilities.
Calculate your startup and running costs
To know how much money will be needed to get the company off the ground, you need to calculate the total cost of everything required to start operating e.g. vehicle(s), cleaning equipment, workers’ protective clothing and equipment, first month’s rent plus deposit and registration of the company. Also important are the running costs which will influence how much you will charge for your services. Such costs will include expenses like rent, utilities, detergents, labour, marketing and insurance.
Register your company
For you to provide your services to other organisations without difficulty, you will have to register your company. While not a legal requirement, many organisations will not give unregistered businesses the time of day. Registration will also allow you to apply for you and your employees’ exemptions from lockdowns and other movement restrictions during the pandemic.
Find the premises
Even if most of your work will be done onsite you will still need somewhere where you will store your equipment and supplies; train new employees; locate your offices and so on.
Buy equipment and supplies
At the barest minimum, you will equipment like buckets, mops, gloves, aprons, goggles and gumboots in addition to cleaning and disinfection supplies like cleaning cloths, soap, detergents and disinfectants. Examples of disinfectants you can use are alcohol, bleach and hydrogen peroxide solutions.
Hire and train workers
This business will involve working with dangerous chemicals amid a dangerous pandemic and in potentially infected areas. Your workers will need to be thoroughly trained for their own and everyone else’s safety. While you may be tempted to save money by doing otherwise, try to recruit people with enough of educational background to appreciate the risks involved, are trainable and will generally do a good job. Remember that you will also need to regularly test your employees for infection.
Market your services
After everything else is in place you can then start alerting potential clients of your services. Contact the various companies, organisations and institutions in your area. They will appreciate the value of what you are offering.