The last year has been tough for client-facing businesses that have had their in-person classes and events curtailed, postponed and cancelled due to Covid-19, and the public health measures put in place as a result.
While there is now a roadmap out of lockdown and a provisional date of 21st June for indoor activities involving larger groups of people/mixed households to begin again, have you considered how you’re going to get your business ready to re-open?
In this blog, I want to talk through some of the key considerations you should factor into your business planning and preparations now, so can create your own roadmap for re-opening and feel confident that you’re ready to do so.
1 – Decide what your group activities are going to look like
While the idea of getting back to a class of 30 or a large networking event just like before is what most of us are hoping for, even when governmental restrictions are lifted this is unlikely to be the case. Many of us are now acutely aware of social distancing measures and there’s some documented anxiety showing that people are nervous to mingle and mix with people out of their households again. Especially with repeated warnings from the government that to do so could trigger another surge of the virus and a return to tougher measures.
With that in mind, now is a good time to talk to your clients and target audience and discover how they feel about it. Do they want a complete return to how it was before, or would they prefer smaller groups? How do they feel about continuing to use PPE? Do they want to see handwashing stations/sanitiser, etc?
Understanding your client’s feelings on this will help you reduce their anxiety about these issues, enabling you to be open about your plans and show that you’ve fully considered everything as you care about their safety and wellbeing.
2 – Be aware of the extra admin that’s going to be involved
Potential red tape aside, you’re going to have a sudden surge of day-to-day admin to contend with. From people contacting you on social media to discover what’s going on, to class/event bookings, dealing with email enquiries, confirming attendance, etc – there’s going to be a lot of admin in quite a short and sudden time period.
Do you have the time and resources to deal with that?
From a website perspective, a lot of visitors in a short period can put considerable strain on your server so you may hear feedback that pages won’t load, etc. It’s a good idea to have a back-up plan for this (like a paper form you can email or send in a message for them to fill in, taking payment another way such as a PayPal/Me link or bank transfer, etc).
Then there’s the manpower side of it. Is it worth outsourcing some elements of your admin for this period, or in the weeks leading up to it to ensure you have the right systems and processes in place?
A Virtual Assistant can be invaluable at this point, helping you with a range of tasks to lift some of the strain from your shoulders. Tasks like:
- Creating digital forms
- Being a point of contact for when you’re not available
- Diary management – dealing with bookings and sending confirmations
- Email management – responding to enquiries, following up, etc
- Identifying ways to streamline processes – like having an online booking system
- Responding to frequently asked questions
- Social media management – keeping your social media ticking over with posts but also dealing with any messages and enquiries you may receive through these channels
- Updates to your website
3 – Have a back-up plan in place
None of us wants to anticipate that the roadmap may change but it is reliant on data around the virus and so the potential is there. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan in place for any classes or events you’re planning to hold.
Is there potential for what you do to be held outdoors? If so, can you identify possible locations now and have a list of venues ready to call on should they be required? How will this affect your costs and pricing?
Can you do the same thing with smaller groups? It might be a case that larger groups meeting will be delayed so can you manage with less?
Having a backup plan is important not just to try to ensure the class or event goes ahead but to maintain your client’s confidence in you. When repeated cancellations happen, even through no fault of the business owner, it can be difficult to raise excitement and motivation for future events because deep down, you fear another cancellation.
Anything you can do to ensure an event continues in some form will help to relieve these tensions with your target audience and keep a strong client base for when normality does return to us.
I hope you’ve found this blog useful in thinking about the next few weeks and months ahead for your business and how you can start planning for it today. As a Virtual Assistant I love working on projects like this with my clients, so if I can help you with anything I’ve outlined above or in a way I haven’t discussed; please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.