In the first of a series of articles, Katherine offers some tips on rebuilding your business on reopening after lockdown:
Step 1: Reconnecting with existing clients
Coming out of lockdown, you naturally want your practice to be busy. But marketing feels challenging at the best of times, let alone when you are having to prepare for reopening and following strict infection control guidance, carrying out risk assessments and sourcing PPE! However, there are some simple actions you can take to re-fill your schedule post-lockdown.
The first step is the simplest - connect with your existing clients.
In an ideal world where we all re-organised our wardrobes, learnt a second language and perfected homemade sourdough starters, we were also composing inspirational and supportive emails and social media posts to stay connected to our clients.
In the real world we know lockdown was a rollercoaster. You may have been home schooling children or caring for elderly relatives and managing your own stress levels and mental health. Half the time simply changing out of our Harry Potter pyjamas before noon was a victory!
If you ended up ghosting your clients and aren’t sure how to reach out them now - don’t worry. Not only will your clients understand, they’re probably as happy about you reopening as you are.
While many of us are already reopening as per government guidelines, there are some who are waiting a bit longer before opening their doors.
If that’s you, don’t wait until you’re already open to reach out to clients.
Create a waitlist so you:
- have a reason to contact people before bookings
- give clients the chance to get early access to appointments
- build anticipation for when you’re open.
It doesn’t have to be too technical – a list of names and emails in a notebook is perfectly fine (making sure you’re GDPR-compliant, of course).
Create a couple of emails and a few social posts letting people know you have a waitlist. Here’s an example you can tweak for yourself:
“While I’d love to be opening now, I want to be extra safe and am waiting until September to open. If you’d like to get first dibs on a session, let me know and I’ll put you on the waitlist. Clients on the waitlist will get first pick of slots, before opening to everyone. To sign up, reply with your name and email.”
We had a waitlist at the clinic and our first week back was at 75% capacity (the maximum we wanted the first week).
Our clients loved having first dibs, and the return was easier than having a high volume of regulars that first week as we got used to the new procedures.
Connect to individual clients personally
You could post on social media every day and send four emails for two weeks and there would still be some people who didn’t know you were open!
That’s why you should also connect to your ‘regular regulars’ personally. These are the clients who come to you like clockwork or who you’ve known for years. The people you know have been waiting to see you since lockdown began. These are the clients you reach out to personally.
How you reach out will depend on the client. You’ll know if you should contact them by text, email, or a phone call. Personalise each message, saying something along the lines of:
Hi, how have you been holding up? Just wanted to let you know I’m reopening on xx date, in case you’d like to book a session.”
If you’re worried personal outreach is too pushy, here are three simple questions that should make you feel better about reaching out.
1. Does this client rely on you for their self-care, or stress management, or support?
2. Will they have been missing that support over the last few months?
3. Will they be happy to hear from you?
If the answers are all easily yes, hopefully you’ll agree that reaching out to them is a service.
There is a limit to how many people you can contact personally - there are only so many hours in a day! Prioritise your regulars, and for the rest of your client list just schedule announcements into your communication plan.
(N.B. No communication plan? Don’t worry - stay tuned for a future article on this subject).
Asking your clients for help
Personal recommendation is the best marketing. It’s no secret that complementary therapies took a big hit the last few months. In our experience, our clients are all too happy to help where they can.
This will, of course, depend on your relationship with your clients, but I bet most of you reading this can think of at least a handful of clients who’d gladly recommend your business.
Clients can recommend their friends and family to you, share your social media posts, share your contact details with any groups they’re in (from knitting to cycling), or put flyers in their office or apartment buildings.
Again, if in doubt, just imagine how you’d feel if a business you loved asked for a little help to share with your friends.