Christilyn Carmen

Christilyn Carmen

Founder and Director of Neho Media

How Service Businesses Owners CAN Survive Corona Virus | COVID-19 Support Guide

This global pandemic is real. While some businesses remain open, others are closed temporarily. Times like this are incredibly terrifying as there is no roadmap 🗺️ on how business owners can navigate through this storm. It shows that being a small business owner or entrepreneur is not an easy path.

For most service based businesses, you may be unable to work from home and don’t offer online services which makes things even tougher for you. My heart goes out to you. This is why I put together the 7 main problems service based businesses are facing and created practical support steps to help. 

 

I’m here to help.

My team and I at Neho Media help service businesses in the healthcare and beauty industry. Already, we have created and implemented contingency plans to ensure our clients pull through times like this. I’m going to share them with you today.

I hope this information can help YOU navigate through this tough time and spark some new ideas to bounce back. Remember, it is our responsibility to step up as business leaders and serve our people. 

Be proactive rather than reactive – 
Poor decisions are often made when you don’t have a plan and react out of panic. Take our toilet paper panic buying as a fine example 🧻👎.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert or some sort of crisis guru… But I believe it’s my duty to help others where I can. It doesn’t take much to spread kindness – I hope you can do the same.

1. My team and I are worried we may get COVID-19.

Take care of your health and protect others by getting the latest information here.

During this time, communication is key.

Have a formal meeting with your team to brief them regarding this situation. Do not induce fear. Let them know what new steps you have in place to ensure their safety and then your client’s safety.

Equip yourself and your team with this free 30min training online by the Australian Government to prevent and control the virus (usually for healthcare workers but anyone can sign up for free).

 

FREE ONLINE COURSE HERE >> Infection Control Training – COVID 19

 

In addition to that, you can introduce:

✔️ Check if your team members are washing their hands in between each new client (or use hand sanitiser)
✔️ Sanitised cleaning in between clients especially with frequently touched surfaces (e.g. chairs, table, beds, door knobs)
✔️ Practice social distancing
✔️ Take team’s temperature in the morning and consider testing client’s temperature with infrared (contactless) thermometer before they walk in the door. Find them at Chemist Warehouse
✔️Consider serving clients hand sanitiser or get them to wash their hands

✔️Dispose rubbish with disposable gloves 

If you or your staff is showing symptoms such as fever, dry cough, sore throat and fatigue, send everyone home, call your health care provider or the Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080.

2. My client numbers are dropping (offline and online strategy)

There is no doubt sales will take a hit over the next few months. The number of foot traffic has decreased significantly for a number of reasons – fear and panic, people working from home and quarantine restrictions. This does not mean that people will stop consuming goods and services. Services are still needed, some more than others. 

 
Over the next few weeks and months, more stores may close and foot traffic will decrease significantly. Causing your business to experience more no-shows and cancellations. Communication and customer service is key during times like this. 


First, let the general public and clients know that you are open (or closed), address that you are aware of the issue and the safety measures you have implemented.
 
 
Some ways to do so:
  • Place posters on your storefront/doors (WHO poster resources here – scroll down)
  • Social Media Post Update (pin it to the top of your news feed or on your instagram story highlights) 
  • Create a notice on your website home page (or a pop up notice if you want to be fancy).
  • Send an email or SMS blast
  • Get personal and call your clients that are already booked in!
 

Here’s my social media post example. Feel free to copy it! 😊👇

 

TITLE: ANNOUNCEMENT – (Business name) Covid 19 response

Dear Clients, 

We are OPEN for business with a few extra measures to ensure our team and clients’ wellbeing!

We are taking advice from the Department of Health to ensure safety for all: 

  • We have plenty of hand sanitiser, soap, water and paper towels available for our team and clients.
  • Our team has gone through the Australian Government Infection Control Training for Covid-19 and will be following strict protocols to ensure safety.
  • All surface areas and tools will be disinfected between clients.
  • We are checking our team’s health every day.
  •  We ask that if you have been unwell or you’re starting to feel unwell, please do not come in. Call us at (PHONE NUMBER) to reschedule your visit.
  • If you have just arrived back from overseas, please stay home and follow the guidelines by isolating yourself from others for 14 days.

During times like this, we need to encourage each other to do our best to flatten the curve. Your support means everything to us during times like this.

Stay safe! – Team name

 
 
Ok now that we have notified our current clients and online followers, let’s explore different ways we can increase our number of new clients.
 

FACT: Foot traffic has decreased, but online traffic has skyrocketed.

So what do you think people are doing instead?

They are probably home (maybe quarantined), either in front of their TV, or on their laptops and phones browsing on the internet.

The vast majority are scrolling on social media and receiving messages from friends about the latest shocking coronavirus news (when I say friends, I really mean to say mum😅).  

 

There are two main ways you can be exposed to and connect with your ideal client online: 

1. THE FREE OPTION
The cheapest way to connect to these people is to post content online on social media, email, and blogs – it’s free! Focus on sharing content that provides value to your audience – it can be educational, humorous or motivational. 
 
EDUCATIONAL & HELPFUL CONTENT: A podiatrist may recommend different home foot exercises to create a better arch or manage pain.
 
FUNNY CONTENT: A dentist may create comedic content to show how people are brushing and flossing their teeth incorrectly. Then demonstrate the right way to do it.
 
MOTIVATIONAL CONTENT: A skin care clinic may tell a story of their clients skin journey on how they struggled with acne and are on a journey to bettering their health and skin. (Include before and after pictures if applicable).

 

 
2. THE PAID OPTION (YES, EVEN IN A RECESSION)
If you have already maximised your free ways, look into into paid social media ads. It’s a worthwhile investment, more so for times like this. Let me explain why. 
 

As mentioned before, with the reduced foot traffic, attention has shifted to online platforms.


This caused an increased number of eyeballs on social media that want to consume, but a decreased supply of ads. The decrease is due to advertisers pulling out of campaigns due to fear. 

GOOD NEWS: Facebook CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) also known as the number of eyeballs on your ad, is the cheapest we have ever seen.

 

I call this, The Recession Psychology.

 

Typically when sales start to drop, businesses cut costs and stop investing. The marketing budget is often one of the first few things thats cut. In the short term, they may have more cash in hand. However a small percentage of business leaders see this as an opportunity.

THE SIMPLE MATH
Cheaper ads = Cheaper attention = Cheaper cost per acquisition (new client) = Increased profits in the long term.

That’s how some smaller businesses manage to survive and gain more market share. I hope you will get some ideas from what these current market leaders did when they were small back then:

  • Amazon grew their sales by 28% in 2009 during the recession by introducing and marketing new Kindle products at lower price point.
  • During the great depression in 1920, Kelloggs doubled their advertising spend and introduced Rice Krispies (SNAP, CRACKLE, AND POP!). They overtook category leader Post cereal and grew profits by 30%.
This is an opportunity to innovate, research on market demands, update service offerings and then double your marketing investment. Before you increase advertising:
 
✔️ Create a clear service or product that meets consumer demands.
✔️ Package it to make it attractive to your target consumer.
✔️ Price and product placement.
✔️ Devise a marketing strategy to accelerate growth and sales.
 

 

Here are some short-term ad ideas you can implement.

IF YOU ARE CLOSED TEMPORARILY
For those that have closed their doors temporarily, create a branding campaign to prepare your re-opening. Grow your social following, providing free educational content that generate leads, offer pre bookings and with re-opening promotions. 
 
IF YOU ARE OPEN
For those that are open, focus on getting clients through your doors. Here are some simple tips to attract more clients with social media ads in our covid-19 situation: 
  • Let people know that you’re open
  • Address the issue and how you’re tackling it with extra measures in place (increase client’s confidence)
  • Offer packages, giftcards, giveaways or discounts to generate leads and bookings
  • Include a clear call to action (online booking page, website, phone number, chat etc)
 
It’s hard to recommend a specific strategy as every business is different, but I hope this gives you enough ideas to implement. Feel free to message me or book a free strategy call to get more ideas (at the bottom of this blog)

3. How to manage cancellations and rescheduling.

You are probably getting a ton of calls and messages about this. Customer service and response times will create either a positive or negative perception of your business. So don’t avoid responding, and try to respond within 1 business day.

 
Not so fun fact: people tend to remember their bad experiences and share them with others, rather than spreading the good🤷‍♀️ Your reputation is the most important asset.
 
While some clients are in panic mode cancelling appointments, others are legitimately unwell or quarantined. This hurts your numbers and can be overwhelming, but you still need to remain and respond empathetically.
 
You may have collected non-refundable deposits or payments months ago with contracts in place. The first step is to politely remind them that you are also in a difficult position and deposits are non refundable. Offer free reschedules or credits.
 

For consults, offer online consults over Zoom or Skype. Already in the healthcare industry, health practitioners are offering “TeleHealth” online consults. For example, physiotherapists would offer video call initial consults at a discounted rate (without treatment), and suggest home exercises to help patients manage their pain. Read more on question 6.

If your cash flow permits, please consider offering refunds or partial refunds. You may offer this as a case by case scenario. Here are a few reasons why you may consider to do so:
  • Some people have lost their jobs and are legitimately struggling to pay bills and buy groceries – so help where you can. 
  • You may be one of the few businesses that offered a refund. People will leave with a positive experience and most likely return when things clear up (probably referring more people to you!).
 
If your business is temporarily closed, redirect business phone calls to a mobile phone (most likely yours). This is so you can maintain a positive customer experience by continuing to answer calls, call back missed calls, reschedule clients etc. Yes it will be annoying for awhile, but customer service is vital during this time. 

4. My business is experiencing cashflow problems

Some suggestions include:

LOANS & FEES: Contact your bank’s financial hardship line ASAP to get assistance. (e.g deferring loan payments, waiving fees, charges, helping with debt, deferring upcoming credit card payments). Google search “BANK NAME financial hardship contact line” 
 
RENT: Respectfully renegotiate rent with your landlord. Try to request for help with free rent to trade over the next few months. Show them proof that you are struggling (e.g. if your business is making a loss and showing the decrease in numbers). During this time, most are understanding of the situation and would much rather have businesses trading, rather than vacant properties.
 
TAX & INTEREST: If you are experiencing difficulties with tax obligations because of COVID-19 you now have more assistance with deferred payments, interest and penalties. Read more here.
 
FINANCIAL ADVICE: Call the National Debt Hotline to get free and confidential advice from professional financial counsellors. Read more here.
 
GOV ASSISTANCE: You may be eligible for financial assistance from the government. Employers will be provided up $25,000 to back up small and medium-sized businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses that employ staff. The payment is also tax free! Read more here. (p.s. the government will provide more support in time to come.
 
WAGES: Consider changing your trading hours and reduce down on hours. Try to do so while keeping team morale high with open communication. Let your team know how you are affected and you are doing your best to support them. 
 
SUPPLIERS: Renegotiate with suppliers. They may offer payment plans or give discounts which will still be a win-win situation as they want you to stay in business.

5. My doors are shut. What now?

First of all, you need to notify your team on the new arrangements. Then cover different offline and online channels to notify your clients. This means rescheduling services (go back to question 3), updating your website and social media that you are currently closed until XXXX.

This will make a huge difference when you re-open your doors and can help your numbers get back on track.

Now, you finally get that downtime to figure out where to go next. 
Maximise your productivity by devising a big picture plan to bounce back📈
 
This is the best time to:
✔️ Go back to question 2
✔️ Refine your business model, systems and processes (new service offerings, update CRM, client journey experience)
✔️ Expand you and your team’s knowledge with online training
✔️ Create and implement a marketing plan (invest in online marketing, build a virtual community, create a content strategy, update email marketing)
✔️ Diversify your service offerings (explore new client pain points and new online service solutions you can offer – go back to questionr 6)
✔️ Expand your mind with books
and don’t forget to…
✔️ Take a break and spend time with loved ones
✔️ Look after your mental health

6. Should I move my service based services online?

Your business model might be built in a way right that you are unable to deliver your services online right now… but that does not mean you stop innovating and adapting. 

 
Hopefully, this event has encouraged you to tweak your business model and expand your online service offerings.
 
Some ideas you can explore are:
  • Convert your initial consultation service into an online video conference consultation call using free tools like zoom or skype (consider providing a discounted rate)
  • Sell online info products, membership programs, online seminars and courses related to your services that clients can apply from home (e.g. physiotherapists can show home exercises through affordable info products, while photographers can create a course to teach their skills with video lessons)
  • Sell online products related to your business (e.g. gift cards, skincare products, stress balls… get creative!)
 

You could implement some of these solutions temporarily – Offering discount prices can help increase sales. It may not be the most profitable, but this can help you gain some cashflow especially if your store is temporarily closed.

Either way, you will have to eventually adapt to the changing digital landscape and market demands.

7. I’m feeling deflated

Whenever I am feeling sad and discouraged, I always seek help by reading The Word, talking to friends and family… and pulling up the good ol’ Dr Google when I’m having a mental breakdown😂 (seriously though, don’t be ashamed to seek help).

 

It’s times like this I like to remind myself how privilege and fortunate I am.

I have a roof over my head.

I am healthy.

I have access to free healthcare in Australia.

I have friends and family whom I love, and loves me back.

 

I hope that you will be reminded of what is truly important even when times are tough. I have full confidence that if we pull together and support each other, we’ll make it through. The stronger we are mentally and physically, the stronger we can be for our families, friends, team and community. 

It is so amazing to see our local community supporting each other by promoting small businesses on social media, offering to do grocery shopping for quarantined neighbours, buying gift cards from local businesses, continuing to pay people where they can, donating their time, resources and money to those in need. Let’s share this beautiful moment in humanity and give back as much as we can. 

I hope this support guide has been helpful.
If you have any questions or support needed, click on my socials below and message me.

You can also email my team at [email protected] My team and I are here to support you.
 

P.s. Join our Service Based Business Owners Facebook group to ask any questions and gain support from our Aussie community.  

 
I shall leave you with some inspiring, funny and feel good content to wrap up this post.
 
  • China is seeing blue skies for the first time in years now that factories are shut. Pollution is decreasing, carbon emissions are down 25%
  • Despite being the 3rd most affected country by COVID-19, doctors and nurses are dancing to keep spirits high in Iran
  • Aussies are showing true community spirit by giving away free toilet paper to the local neighbourhood
 
 
Stay safe,
Christilyn Carmen 

Ready to grow your business? Claim your 45 minute strategy session, for FREE.

We will show you our renown ABC growth system to not only survive, but thrive through the Covid pandemic.

Christilyn Carmen | Director and Growth Strategist 👋

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