The outbreak of COVID-19 has severely impacted small businesses in the service industry. According to one report, one million service workers in the beauty industry are dealing with the damage caused by the coronavirus. Other businesses like personal trainers, maintenance workers, and dozens of other professions are seeing customer interactions dry up.
When businesses depend upon some level of human interaction, you may be lost trying to figure out what to do to regain control of your business. This manual focuses on ideas for small and medium-sized companies to manage the problems caused by this global pandemic.
Shift your mindset
This crisis has left many of us scrambling and looking for different ways out of this mess. Everyone deals with it differently, and some can harness their stress and convert it into a positive mindset. Switching to a “can-do” attitude is the key to bring your business back to life again.
For the service industry, human contact is one of the main pillars of a business. Nevertheless, there are multiple ways to establish and maintain contact with prospects and existing clients. Identifying the most efficient ways while maintaining social distance is vital. Reevaluate your business model and approach by looking at other businesses. Schools, the entertainment industry, and restaurants are all asking these very same questions. Being creative is critical. What can your business do to follow various federal, state, and local regulations and, at the same time, keep customers engaged?
Restructuring the health and beauty services approach:
Salons, spas, gyms, yoga studios, and other health & fitness service providers are all suffering right now; these businesses have ground to a halt in light of shelter-in-place orders. Much of what they can offer now depends on each state’s particular regulations. Whenever possible, these businesses should consider exploring virtual and telehealth options. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Offer one-on-one online/ video consultations (Telehealth). If your business thrives on face-to-face connections, set up appointments for 1:1 video consultations with your trainers, psychologist, or yoga instructors. For instance, one makeup brand provided 15-minute virtual consultations with stylists to address customers’ specific beauty needs.
- Post your video classes online. Live-streamed or pre-recorded video isn’t just for fitness sessions or yoga classes. Offer videos educating your customers on how to do makeup, self-groom, and hair coloring. For law and accounting professionals, videos, or vlogging is a great opportunity to draw the attention of potential new clients or maintain the clients looking for your services interested or engaged in discussions.
- Focus on the community. A fitness center decided to keep its trainers and coaches employed. It began offering paid online classes and agreed to provide part of the revenue to local charities and other small businesses in need. The community rallied around this small business, and no memberships lost.
- Discover other opportunities to sell. Customers are still looking to buy the products you sell. Start offering them online by developing your website. If you have a physical store you must start offering curbside-pick up.
- Develop a cleaning protocol. If your business has been allowed to remain open or you’re anticipating re-opening soon, start cleaning and developing hygiene and safety protocols to keep your customers safe. Inform your clientele of these new procedures via mail, email, and all your social media channels. Adopt and train your staff on the CDC’s guide to cleaning and disinfecting.
- Employees come first. Always keep your employees safe, as they come first. Maintain them informed of your plans, changes, and maintain an open line of communication. They are also struggling and uncertain about their future.
Reinvent your legal and accounting services
Whereas some banks and other highly regulated institutions still require in-person appointments for certain services, legal and accounting businesses can be more flexible. Legal counsel and accounting services remain critical, regardless of social distancing. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to transition your client consultations to audio or video calls.
Nevertheless, the COVID-19 crisis may create new hurdles for lawyers and accountants. Many individual professionals and firms might experience significant changes in their income during this period. These changes affect how your clients’ taxes must be filed and paid, or when they might launch a new venture requiring legal assistance, but they also may affect the budget they have dedicated to paying your fees. Here are some ways to be proactive with your business during COVID-19.
- Be the expert. Businesses and individuals will turn to you for guidance now more than ever. Communicate pertinent information that can impact your community and position your business as industry leader. Remind clients of any revised tax filing or payment deadlines. Stay on top of stimulus options for individuals, families, and businesses to advise clients, which is the best course of action. Attorneys who work with financial services should anticipate helping clients access their emergency funds to offset losses during the shutdown.
- Stay flexible. Work with personal and business clients by reviewing their contracts with you and establish a new payment plan that is both good for you and them. The key here is to maintain the clients you have and show that you are a reasonable professional.
- Security first. Only use encrypted and reputable video-conferencing platforms and other online tools. Your electronic communications with clients might include sensitive information and you must carefully consider which software to use. Online safety comes before any online business activity. It is the most crucial step to avoid identity theft and thus, loss of client data.
- Offer estate planning. The reality of COVID-19 is that a solid plan for the future is the top priority in everyone’s mind. Estate planning is more of an urgent need for many. Be prepared to get many requests in this area of expertise.
Expand your landscape, maintenance, and mechanical services reach
Landscape, maintenance, and mechanical services are as essential as your ability to keep revenue flowing. However, many of your services will take more time because of cleaning protocols and how your crew operates. How can you maintain the same or a higher influx of revenue given that each job is taking longer than usual to finish? These are the steps you should be taking:
- Plan transportation thoughtfully. Vehicle maintenance should be one of your top priorities to avoid further delays and lost days of work. Plan your fleet’s maintenance ahead of time and preferably on weekends or when you have no jobs scheduled. Mechanics are in high demand, and it is essential to schedule your appointments over a month in advance.
- Use social media to publish Do-It-Yourself videos. Show your clientele how to do small repairs or things that do not require the work of licensed and experienced professionals like you. It is a great way to market your business and show clients you care.
- Don’t discount retail. Charge a fair price for your products and services but do not offer deep discounts. Your ability to stay afloat is crucial for the survival of your business. Add value to your products and services, but do not stretch your business too thin but offering discounts on everything.
- Publish your cleaning protocol. Verbalize and convey your intentions to customers and constituents. Let them know via social media, websites, online directories, mail, and emails what you are doing to proactively combat this pandemic. Share your safety measures and cleaning protocols, so your customers feel safe being around you and your staff.
- State by State COVID Guidance from the National Association of Professional Landscapers
- OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
- The CDC’s Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
Many service industry businesses have the terrible habit of asking customers to send payments using paper checks or other costly and unreliable methods rather than electronic payments such as credit, debit, and ETFs. According to one estimate, most businesses still pay 50% of their bills using paper checks.
Early testing shows that COVID-19 can last up to 24 hours on surfaces like paper and cardboard. Not only are paper checks potentially risky during this time, but they’re also inefficient. Businesses accepting paper checks run the risk of fraud, lost mail, and theft. The risk is far higher than the benefits.
TekkPay can easily set up invoicing and online payment systems for your business so you can accept all forms of electronic payments safely and securely. Do you have a website? We set that up for you as well as long as you have a payment processing/merchant account with us. All of our systems are encrypted and easy to use.
Keep your clients engaged.
Even though you may not be seeing your clients face-to-face, staying in touch is extremely important. Let your customers know about products, services, changes you are making, and how your business is tackling this pandemic. Be upfront about what safety measures you are taking to keep your team safe. Your customers need to hear from you. Make an effort to talk to them via all social media channels and your website using your voice and image.
Get some relief
Where can service providers go to find some extra help? If you need additional funding during this time, check out some of these options:
- Visit TekkPay’s social media channels for important updates.
- Check the US Chamber of Commerce page for everything you need to know about Federal Small Business Stimulus Aid Programs related to COVID-19 and their State Government Coronavirus Assistance Guide.
- The Salon & Spa Relief Fund is offering grants of $2,500-$5,000 to salons in need.
- Do you sell Aveda products? You may be eligible for support from the Aveda Cares program, which will offer financial relief through six initiatives, including a $1.5 million fundraising campaign.
- AICPA members are eligible to apply for support through the Benevolent Fund.
- The Freelancers Relief Fund offers financial assistance up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income or expenses not covered by government relief programs.
If you need further assistance amidst this crisis or would like to learn more about how TekkPay could help you develop your business’ online presence, contact us at 1-888-502-2322 and speak to one of our associates. We are in this together.