These are rough times and many industries are being affected dramatically by the COVID-19 or coronavirus. One way or another, the impact will be felt by us all. Businesses will have to find new ways of working or even restructure their business plans completely to continue during the turbulent weeks ahead.
As a company that helps SMBs optimise resource management and take booking systems online, it is our duty to give whatever guidance and support we can to customers and other SMBs during this time.
1. Explore and offer any viable alternatives to your services to strengthen relationships with your customers and reach potential new ones
We understand that many in the beauty and wellness industry are being affected, so start getting creative with any useful content you can share in your social media channels – from videos teaching how to dye hair at home or webinars teaching parents how to cut kids‘ hair.
Think about any relevant content you have that customers might find of particular use now. Target these videos to people nearby, helping to increase awareness of the useful services you can offer in the local area. This could prove invaluable to people in the short term and could even help build links with customers that continue once things return to normal.
Consultants, language teachers and coaches can start to offer their services online, everything from virtual consultations, classes and even tutorials. Share your TIMIFY profile page or booking widget in your social media channels and allow customers / students to book those sessions online. For many people who are fit and well but confined to their homes, this could be a unique opportunity to do that course they had always planned but never found the time. Your services could be the answer.
If your are looking for a free platform to conduct a class, You can then investigate a tool like Google Hangouts, which has been made available its Premium version for free from now until 1 July 2020. This video conferencing platform not only allows you to hold meetings and teach clases, but also to organise online events or webinars for up to 250 participants, as well as a variety of options to help film tutorials or make videos explaining your services.
2. Keep learning and try to prepare as best as possible for what’s to come
Are you working from home, is your business closed, do you need to redesign your business strategy? Do you want to increase your online media presence, but can‘t afford to hire a consultant? Take this opportunity for personal or business development. Many companies and schools are offering training courses for free during this time. We have rounded up some that might be of interest below.
Ahrefs: one of the key companies in digital marketing is offering many premium educational courses for free, such as ‚Blogging for business‘ – a course that previously cost USD799: https://ahrefs.com/academy/blogging-for-business/lesson-1-1
freeCodeCamp: Access 450 online courses for free from Ivy League Schools. Select the subject you want to learn more about and start now. You can access all course types such as business, education and even personal development. Why not take an entrepreneurship course from Harvard University or Marketing Analytics from Columbia University.
Digitalmarketer: Need marketing help? Online presence and digital marketing are two key aspects. Learn how to use Facebook and Google Ads or how to build an effective landing page.
3. Communicate properly
If your business hours are affected or you need to postpone services until normality returns, let customers know what measures you are taking. Update your Google Business profile, modify your business description and give further information about opening hours, social media pages and so on.
In case of existing appointment bookings that need to be postponed or cancelled, keep customers informed. If you are using TIMIFY, you can let customers know they can reschedule or cancel directly from the email confirmation they received when booking the appointment.
If your business is staying open, let customers know the measures – particularly around hygiene – that you are taking to ensure their safety. Make customers feel welcome as always, but more importantly feel safe about using your services.
4. Use your TIMIFY calendar in a way it works for your business:
Are you still open for business? You need to make sure that your waiting room, reception and other physical parts of your business are occupied by the least possible amount of people at the same time. In this sense, being online bookable now is one of the most powerful options to offer customers.
Our prep and follow-up times function allows essential buffer times to be added either side of certain bookings. This is normally used to ensure essential admin processes are accounted for in your time management for the day, but could now be used to ensure as little crossover as possible between your clients between appointments, as well as for essential hygiene practices to take place.
5. Ensure accuracy and transparency of your team’s availability
The availability of your team throughout this uncertain period could be extremely changeable, causing real problems for service provision and appointment scheduling. TIMIFY’s shared calendar allows you to easily create links that can be made visible to other internal teams or customers, showing each team member’s availability – crucially in real time. From finding availability for large internal conference calls or offering accurate booking availability to customers online 24/7, the shared online calendar could become your most crucial tool.
In times of uncertainty there are no guidelines able to predict what will happen in the coming months and therefore give support on all the appropriate steps. But it is clear the demands and consumption of services is evolving like never before and business owners will have to leave their comfort zone and amend their services accordingly.
We must stress how important this down time could be for businesses, to optimise processes in order to soften the current impact and prepare for when business starts to pick up again.
Don’t despair! Your customers will come back and potential leads will return to seeking out solutions for their needs in the future. Learn from the current situation and try to make the best of it.
If you have other ideas or information that might help others, let us know and we would be happy to share. Let’s all pull together as a team!