COVID-19 has placed incredible strain on industries across the globe. From restaurants to home services, businesses of every size have had to rethink normal and find new flexible ways to serve their customers. Health and wellness companies in particular, with their focus on hands-on care, have been especially hard hit. At PaySimple, we’re here to help your business navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic as smoothly as possible. In an earlier post, we discussed adaptive measures to take as a health and wellness company. In this one, we’re looking to the future and how your business can take steps now to recover.
1. Review Our SBA CARES Act Guide To Protect Your Business
One of the first steps to take is to review the SBA CARES Act Guide by PaySimple to see which provisions apply to your business. Potential benefits for small businesses include:
- SBA CARES Act small business loans: These loans are available not only for businesses with fewer than 500 employees but also for self-employed, independent contractors, or sole proprietors.
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The PPP offers a grant/loan hybrid that you can use for payroll expenses, healthcare costs, interest on mortgages, rent and lease payments, and utilities. Under this program, employers who keep staffing up to pre-COVID levels are eligible for full forgiveness of salaries (and partial forgiveness of other covered expenses).
Already have a small business loan? There is help for that, too. Taking the time to consider your options to maintain financial stability is a crucial part of your business’s recovery. Once you settle on which benefits you need to take advantage of, consider making changes in other aspects of your business to keep both your customers and your bottom line healthy.
2. Audit Your Business Strategy And Revenue Streams
Many businesses have adapted to COVID-19 in ways they hadn’t planned. In some cases, the transition has been easier. Some companies have shut down their offices and moved to work-from-home models.
Health and wellness companies often don’t have this option. Instead, they’ve had to examine the way they deliver services and determine the best ways to adapt, changing how they operate and what they provide.
Our earlier post shares inspiring examples of how some health and wellness businesses have responded to this challenge, such as:
- A Florida therapist now collects payments with billing schedules for ongoing virtual visits
- In Baltimore, Yoga Tree has switched from in-studio yoga classes to 100% on-demand and regularly scheduled yoga classes using Facebook Live
- DocPace, a waiting room management app, helps medical practices convert their parking lot into a waiting room using text messages and push notifications
- Arizona Pain shifted 50% of their appointments to telemedicine in less than a week (and almost 100% in two)
- Full Moon Acupuncture has moved appointments to telemedicine as well, also offering yoga, meditation, and classes online using Zoom
The biggest takeaway? It’s time to rethink your revenue streams and your service offerings. Health and wellness companies with multiple online and in-person revenue streams and business models can offer additional services to their customers if regular business is disrupted.
Could some of the changes you made in services or products during this crisis continue as new revenue channels? Are there even more ways to diversify that you haven’t yet thought of? Get creative, brainstorm ways you can add even more value to your services virtually. Consider creating downloadable resources, video and eBooks that customers can purchase. Past a pandemic, the digital or subscription-based models help you use now could help you weather other storms.
3. Know Your Staffing Situation Moving Forward
As we ease out of this health crisis, it’s important to evaluate your current staff. If you have small business loans to maintain payroll, you may begin with as many employees but fewer clients. Consider rotating appointments among staff or use this lull to offer training or chances to work on licensure or certifications.
Unfortunately, many businesses will not restart with the same number of employees as before. If you can, move forward with veteran personnel. Once you know who you’ll be relying on in the coming weeks, decide how best to handle your known and anticipated staffing limitations. Consider increasing hours for staff where possible and as needed to cover gaps.
The goal is to find a balance in serving as many clients as you can while still creating a great customer experience. Think ahead about how many appointments you can take per day. As your schedule builds, ask your clients and your team for feedback, and adjust as needed. Develop a schedule to ramp back up to previous staffing levels, if possible.
4. Stay Top Of Mind With The Clients You Serve
It is important to stay in contact with customers even if your business is not able to operate right now and hopefully you have done so. If your health and wellness business has been radio silent, you may find it much harder to come back. Stopping communication or ending marketing of your business is not the move here.
You’ve built a relationship with your clients. Nurture it during this time:
- Check in with clients to provide updates on your business or offering them helpful tools to cope or educate themselves. Use our email marketing templates for direct assistance; includes a template specific to long-absence re-engagement.
- Keep clients posted on your re-opening dates or change in hours.
- Highlight new services or changes in your business model.
- Leverage social media to connect with your customer base and share offers and discounts to followers.
- Contact customers with cancelled or current appointments to reschedule.
If your budget is tight, lean heavily on affordable (or even free) digital marketing tools, such as email campaigns and social media. Once you have a re-opening date, begin to offer online scheduling to fill up your appointments. You might also consider partnering with other local businesses for re-opening events and promotions.
5. Evaluate Your Current Systems And Processes
During this time, businesses have added systems and technology to reach customers outside of their brick-and-mortar shop. Many of these tools rely on virtual scheduling, online payments, invoicing, and accepting credit cards to accommodate customers’ purchasing habits.
If you’re like most small businesses, you’ve found that clients actually prefer these convenient solutions. In preparation for re-opening, which of these tools should remain in place? How can you update your current systems and processes during your downtime so they’re ready to go by re-opening? Think about how you can train staff and inform customers of any ongoing changes.
6. Anticipate An Influx
Once stay-at-home orders are lifted, be prepared for a surge in business to your locations. It’ll be important to find a balance between keeping safety a priority, serving as many as possible, and delivering a great customer experience. Depending on where you are located, you may need to adjust your operations appropriately based on social distancing mandates for your area.
Anticipate operational changes you will need to make to accommodate that surge of customers while remaining in accordance with any regulations. Keep regular communication lines open for staff to get help or support if they need it. This is especially important if you are moving forward with different revenue streams, too. You may also need to plan ahead for increased volume, requesting a processing limit increase from your payment processing partner. Doing so will help you avoid unnecessary fees should you experience a substantial influx in processing volume.
7. Plan For More Ongoing Sanitation Measures
Most signs indicate a cyclical nature to COVID-19. Continue to place cleaning and sanitation procedures at the highest priority. Even when businesses reopen, health and safety precautions should remain enforced.
Additionally, customers will be even more sensitive to facility and staff cleanliness. For facilities that have multiple customers at a time (e.g., gyms or yoga studios), consider dedicating one staff member to clean the facility between clients or classes. In the beginning, continue social distancing practices as possible. In gyms, for example, rope off every other treadmill so clients can have space. At clinics, give customers the option to wait in their cars versus your waiting room. It may also be beneficial to explore touch-free check-in solutions that allow visitors to complete check-in processes on their mobile phone.
The steps you take to ensure here should be communicated to customers and staff. Doing so provides peace of mind to customers when they visit your business in the future.
In This Together
Across the globe or across the street, PaySimple is dedicated to helping your business navigate COVID-19. Whether you are learning more about options for online payments or trying to understand all of the business resources available, we can help.