How to Reopen Successfully Post-COVID-19

Being part of *team* brick & mortar wayyy back in January 2020 feels a world away from what business will look like post-COVID-19.

Waiting room a-buzz with clients, staff all up in their faces?

Not for the foreseeable future.

Walk-ins popping by on a spur-of-the-moment decision? Not a chance.

The next six to eighteen months will be an experiment in creativity. You might not have wished this transition on your worst enemy, but for an industry chock full of fresh ideas looking to upend the *norm*—the potential is electric.

Are you ready?

The *great re-opening* of 2020 is shaping up to be:

  • Like nothing you’ve ever experienced before
  • Focused on client service & safety
  • Dependent on creativity, flexibility & innovation

Now’s not the time to fall silent, but instead, plan, connect and plot your reemergence into this unknown, post-COVID-19 era. Let’s explore the most effective ways to move your business through the transition between shut down and re-opening.

Ask the tough questions {even if you’re scared to hear the answers}

red headed woman in front of a building post COVID-19

If there’s one thing we know for sure—it’s that your priorities have made a dramatic left-hand turn these past few months.

The same goes for your clients.

Finding out how their focus has shifted is like striking gold in your business. During this downtime, you need to reach out to evaluate what’s changed. For example, in the past, your clients may have placed their top priorities on:

  1. Speed
  2. Availability
  3. Convenience
  4. Price

Is this still true? Or, are your clients leaning more towards price over availability now… you won’t know until you ask.

There’s an abundance of ways you can reach out before your industry starts opening up:

  • Send out a quick five to ten-question survey via email
  • Create a post on Instagram/Facebook asking for replies
  • Get on the phone and call your most loyal customers

TIP: You need to make the move from *nice to have* to *need to have…* NOW.

Think back to your most requested services over the last twelve months—a $250 balayage? 90-minute massage? Are these still relevant services for your clients? If your entire industry is edging on *nice to have* it’s time to brainstorm ideas around becoming irreplaceable in your clients’ mind. Though it may seem overwhelming at the moment, you can’t wait until you get the go-ahead to open your doors to take a crack at it.

As society begins to open back up, experts say safety will be one of the top concerns. To determine what *safe* looks and feels like for your clients post-COVID-19, you’ll need to ask for feedback. Once you’ve gathered their thoughts on safety, coupled with intel on your services, you can work to turn that information into a plan.

Become *spot-you-from-space-level* visible

Global pandemic got your tongue? It can be freakin’ hard to know what to say, how to say it and when… so rather than plowing through {and making a whoopsie}—you stay silent.

Sorry to kick you out of your comfort zone but now’s not the time to fall off the face of the social media planet. Your clients and business need your face out there—loud and proud. #savesmallbusiness.

Staying visible online when you’re unavailable *offline* is essential to remaining top of mind. Here are a few ways you create visibility while also helping your clients:

  1. Share your journey {the ups, downs, and in-between’s… show you’re human}
  2. Give tips for at-home *care* relating to your industry
  3. Ask for feedback on your current products and services {create a dialogue}
  4. Share tutorials
  5. Highlight your staff & loyal customers

Brainstorm ways you can take on a leadership role within your industry. Are there norms from the past decades that need to adjust post-COVID-19 { ← like making the leap from being a walk-in based shop to booking your appointments online?} How can you have a hand in implementing these changes?

Now’s the time to step up and be creative. Use your voice, engage with your clients, and work alongside your peers to see the positive changes you want within your industry.

Build your {online} community

building online community post COVID-19

How well do your clients really know you? Since you opened your business, you’ve likely been running off your feet, being pulled in a bajillion different directions…  barely stopping for a moment to breathe.

Well, this isn’t the *break* you were hoping for, but here you are.

What do you want your community {online for now} to know about you, your business, your mission, and your values? You have potential clients out there right now who are searching for local business owners to support, root for, and hold up as shining examples of neighborhood gems… they just need to *find you.*

Tell your story on Instagram, via a Facebook live or send out an email to your list with a quick *top 10 fun facts about me*… it might seem uncomfortable at first but the potential unease is worth the risk.

You can also use this time to remind your clients how they can book with you when the economy begins to re-open. Get your appointment booking link front and center in your Insta bio, have a *book now* button on your Facebook page, and make sure to keep your community up-to-date on when you’re taking new online appointment bookings.

Putting yourself out there creates opportunities for your community to connect to the idiosyncrasies that make you special. It’s those niche elements that bond clients to you through thick & thin {translation: this COVID-19 mess}.

Temporarily pivot your business online

The timeline between today and *normal* life is fluid… like it or not, you’ll need to flow with the changes to make it through.

First up, evaluate if you need to move any of your current offerings online OR whether you’re able to ride out the storm offline. Don’t panic pivot because the *COVID-19 pandemic* headlines are screaming at you to do so. If you’re financially stable enough to sit this out, do it.

Not sure you’re comfortable with that idea? Then it’s time to evaluate the services/products you offer to see what’s transferable to an online-only option.

If there’s any bright spot in this storm, it’s the outpouring of creativity from all industries. Whether it’s a unique way to build relationships, create an additional stream of income, or maintain a connection to the world outside your 400 sq ft apartment… small businesses and solo entrepreneurs have been turning industries on their heads.

Ask yourself: What can I shift online to make money until we re-open post-COVID-19? { ← remember, this won’t last forever} Here’s some inspiration to get the ball rolling:

1. Online lessons, fitness sessions & consultations

This idea has already disrupted the fitness industry. Boutique clubs are offering their classes online for a fraction of the price, spin studios have sent members home with their bikes, and celebrity personal trainers are offering at-home sessions via IG Live. It’s never been more cost-effective to have a *fancy-schmancy* gym membership.

Tattoo artists are also seeing movement with online consultations. It’s their first step toward pre-paid online appointments that they’re booking when their shop re-opens. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start!

TIP: Get started with free online booking  Head here to set up your 30-day free trial. Within minutes you’ll have access to our Pro Plan features like recurring appointments, online payments, text/email reminders, and more. It’s like having a personal secretary at your fingertips.

2. Curbside drop-offs & follow-ups

Women around the world are kicking themselves for not tipping their hairstylists more as their roots grow in and bangs grow out. To keep us from going rogue with kitchen shears and box dye, some salons have created *home kits,* complete with detailed {translation: a six-year-old could follow} instructions to tide us over until that glorious day we’re back in the chair.

Other salons have taken it one step further.

They’ll put together your regular in-salon formulation (dye/processor, a brush, gloves) and drop it off on your doorstep. To ensure you don’t muff it up, you then schedule an online appointment with them for a Zoom date. Your stylist will walk you through the process step-by-step, leaving you to remind yourself to never question a price at the salon again. Genius.

3. Set up your online store

If your brick & mortar location sells physical products, it might be time to move those products online. Chances are, you’ve always wanted to do this… you just never had the time! E-commerce in-a-box sites like Shopify make setup straightforward and if you get stuck, they have a support team to walk you through. Once you’ve got your stock online, head over to social, and let your clients know.

4. Partner with companies to sell PPE

We’ve seen some incredible partnerships come together over the last several months and alongside complete pivots. If you don’t see any opportunity within your current business to sell online, there may be options to collaborate with others to do some good.

 

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A post shared by Eliza Trendiak – Hairstylist (@elizatrendiakhair) on

Vancouver based Artel Salon partnered with Revol Girl, another local business that specializes in period-proof underwear. Together they create and distribute masks to help their community stay safe during & post-COVID-19… they’re even seeing local salons reach out for orders in preparation for re-opening.

Global brands like L’Oreal & Ralph Lauren have gotten in on the action as well switching large swaths of their business {hand sanitizer and face masks respectively}. If you feel called to help, put out your feelers and see if there are businesses you can partner up with to make a difference in your community.

5. Contests, giveaways, gift cards

Your clients and community are eager to support your business if they can… but, they’ll need your direction on the best ways to help. Depending on your individual situation that’ll vary, however, we have a feeling one of these options will work for you:

Gift cards → let your clients know gift cards are available for services and how they help you now (you can even offer a discount on them if you think that’ll drive up sales)

Sales/Discounts → don’t go crazy on the discounts. However, if you offer products you could consider having a flash sale or limited time offer that’s targeted to your clients (ex. five online classes for the price of four, buy one get one half off: shampoo/conditioner)

Contests/Giveaways → the sky’s the limit for holding a contest or a giveaway. Think about what will get your audience excited enough to participate and move forward from there. If you’re feeling stuck, we found a little inspiration for you.

Alexis is a talented LA-area tattoo artist who was offering one entry into a draw for a free tattoo for each person who bought one of her digital prints ($10). Brilliant. Not only was she getting her stunning work out into the world, but Alexis was also drumming up excitement to visit the shop when it’s safe to do so! Here’s what Alexis had to say about her experience during COVID-19 so far:

With the uncertainty of when we will be able to work again, being an artist in these times Is extremely difficult. I wanted to create an opportunity to give a little hope to everyone. A tattoo raffle was a perfect option because it allowed my clients who purchased a ticket to receive a small gift from me while also simultaneously supporting me during these difficult times. It gave all my clients who won the opportunity to have something to look forward to during these uncertain times. I think we all needed a little pick me up and this was mutually beneficial for me and my clients. It really showed me how much my clients cared and supported my work. That alone made a huge difference to me.

You can head over to her Instagram page to check her out:

 

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A post shared by Alexis Xol (@alexis_xol) on

Find your focus for a post-COVID-19 reality

What will going *back to work* look like for you? Let’s pretend for a moment a giant flip is switched and everything opens up tomorrow… what services will you offer?

As a stylist, there’s a chance you’ll be focusing on color correction and root touch-ups for the first few weeks (*cough* months), rather than a head full of highlights. And as a physiotherapist, you could deal with an onslaught of *runners* who jumped back into it after 15 years of couch-surfing… instead of the semi-pro athletes, in peak physical condition you’re used to.

So, how will you adjust your focus? Take an hour and write all the services you think will be in-demand when the *grand re-opening* begins.

Now that you’ve made a list of the services your clients will want… how does that differ from what you offer? Are you prepared to make some changes? And where can you make the biggest difference to set yourself apart from your competition?

These questions deserve reflection… the answers will be game-changers.

Map out your new business plan

No one has a magic eight ball. However, by staying in touch with your clients, industry peers, and your community, you can begin to map out what going back to your business looks like for the first month, three months, & six months.

There will be unknowns. Not everything has changed from the first day you opened your business… but how can you prepare so you’re ready to go when the starting gun goes off?

Online appointment scheduling

Whether you need to lower your overhead cost or it’s time to change the *old way* of doing business, online appointment scheduling lets you control person-to-person contact by moving your bookings online.

Text & email reminders keep your schedule running smoothly as showing up on time becomes even more important to your day-to-day business. And, Bookedin’s in-app texting feature lets you connect straight from your clients’ booking. You can notify your client when it’s time to enter your business, allowing them to wait in their cars, rather than milling around outside the front of your building.

You can rest easy knowing you can require an up-front deposit in case of no-show appointments. The world may be topsy-turvy right now but you still have control over a few key things.

Setting expectations and following new safety protocols post-COVID-19

Some of your clients may champ at the bit to step back into your business, while others may wring their hands wondering:

  • What’s it going to look like?
  • How will I feel?
  • Am I safe? Should I wait?

All valid questions… that you can totally answer.

Truth is, the experience won’t look the same way their last appointment did. How can you paint a new picture for your clients to set their mind at ease, make them feel secure and, drum up excitement about coming back to see you?

There will be new state and government safety procedures to follow depending on your industry and it’s going to be up to you to communicate these guidelines to your clients.

Put together an email and a few social posts that outline what your new booking procedure will look like. Acknowledge the anxiety your clients are experiencing about their visit by using your experience, personality, and humanity.

Show & tell them the ways you’re making their *new appointment* one that’ll make them feel just as special as the *old days.* When you’re transparent about this transition your clients & community will know you care about their safety & well-being above all.

You can add specific information surrounding safety protocol (i.e., clients waiting in their car until you text them, masking requirements, temperature checks) right on your booking page. These details can also be added to your custom client confirmation and reminder emails to ensure everyone is informed and feels as safe as possible.

How are you feeling about a *post-COVID-19* reignition?

young woman post COVID-19

Even with a solid plan of attack, it’s natural to feel tentative about the next steps… while strategizing & speaking with your industry pals can help… the unknown is slightly terrifying.

So, we want to know. How are you feeling about moving into a post-COVID-19 era of work? Is it a mix of excitement and fear or does this all seem overblown and you’re just ready to get out there and move on?

Let us know in the comments below ⬇️. We can’t wait to hear from you.