The past couple years have brought a range of new challenges to small business owners — especially those in the service industry. Routines and day-to-day tasks were turned upside down, and now, the “norm” is, well, not normal by any means.
Yet, despite all the challenges that COVID brought to small business owners, we’ve seen barbers, hair stylists, and massage therapists grow more resilient, creative, and savvy when it comes to running their business. (We see you!)
That’s why we reached out to a few savvy business owners to learn how they’ve dealt with the changes and how they’re moving forward. Here’s their best small business advice for the future of COVID.
- Reestablish Trust with Clients
- Reconnect with Previous Clients
- Automate to Cut Costs
- Help Employees Feel Safe
- Stay Positive/Hopeful
Small Business Advice for the Future of COVID
Reestablish Trust with Clients
Let’s face it. The world has been pretty darn weird the past couple years, and clients may still be unsure about booking in-person appointments again. To help sway them back, you need to reestablish the credibility that drew them to you in the first place.
Use Social Media
Pareen Sehat, a clinical counselor & certified mental health professional based in Vancouver, Canada, learned that you can regain clients’ trust by posting testimonials on social media. “This measure can help build credibility and put face value to your business,” Pareen says. Plus, “consumers are more likely to trust your brand when others have left positive reviews on your page.”
Be Transparent and Compassionate
Hair care expert and salon owner Lauren Holland let us know that helping her clients feel comfortable has required “a whole new level of trust and communication.” The key, she says, is a formula of “transparency, understanding, tolerance and compassion.” And that involved “being there for our clients as much as they were there for us.”
Reconnect with Previous Clients
The best way to get the attention of previous clients? Share your enthusiasm to return to work with them!
Get Them Excited to Return
Professional hair stylist and founder of Hair Spies, Allyson Carter, took the time to get clients excited by promoting her return and encouraging them to come in for a “fresh dye or a new cut.” “Everyone’s hair needs an upgrade after this long pandemic,” she says.
Allyson also noted: “Make sure to let them know that you are doing everything by the regulations and are maintaining a hygienic environment, so your clients feel safe visiting.”
Make a Deal for Previous Clients
Jennifer McArdle is a digital marketer and former owner of McArdle Media. She suggests creating deals specially to pull back old clients.
“If you have the email addresses of former clients,” Jennifer suggests that you “reach out to them with an intriguing reopening offer. For yoga instructors/studios, this could be a short term offer of Buy two classes and the third class is on us!”
“This helps ease them back into coming,” she says, “knowing they will attend more than one class.”
Automate to Cut Costs
Whether your budget is smaller due to fewer employees, or you’re just trying to get your numbers back up to how they used to be, trimming expenses where you can is a smart way to help increase revenue post-COVID.
Fitness and health expert Megan Ayala of the website Patricia and Carolyn noted that “the best way to budget if your staff leaves is to automate some processes.”
Megan suggests automating things such as “scheduling appointments and taking orders” to help eliminate expenses.
Help Employees Feel Safe
The most important thing to prioritize when re-opening post-COVID? Nutritionist and author Lisa Richards believes it’s the “health and safety of your employees.”
“Employees want to work in an environment where they feel safe, protected and valued,” Lisa says. “Such an environment will make the transition smoother for everyone involved, while also reducing stress and anxiety levels amongst staff.”
She also adds: “Any investments you make towards protecting your employees will automatically translate to a better, safer experience for your customers.”
Stay Positive and Hopeful
At the end of the day, a positive attitude and a willingness to help your staff and your clients goes a long way.
Kristina Kay co-owns a photography business in Portland, Oregon, and she let us know the pandemic nearly shut down her operation.
But with business back on the rise these days, she’s staying hopeful and knows now is a great time for small business owners to “re-strategize” how they run things.
“I’ve learned a lot about managing my clients, my team, and how to best serve those around me in dark times,” Kristina says. Moving forward, her goal is to use her experience to “help other freelancers and business owners know that there is so much hope.”
Holland summed things up beautifully for us: “The last 2 years will take some time to integrate, and with the help of community and networking, we will find the level of support that is much needed.”