So much as happened since Saturday when I decided to close my doors. We are all in shock that we have found ourselves in this situation.
But here we are so we, as the bad ass leaders we are, will march forth and make the best of an unprecedented global situation.
The following list in no apparent order is what I have learned and hope it saves your some time in your spinning minds. Some may apply to your business, some may not, most of these tips are in relation to a service/ appointment business, but I am sure that many reading this will get something out of it even if this is not your business model.
My business is in Rhode Island. Some things may not apply in your states, but I am guessing most will.
Good luck and I hope this is helpful as it intends.
- Once you say finito, your team will be in panic mode. As much as you are freaking out, they are freaking out more. Help them with unemployment. If you are a w2 business who pays their staff the way employers of real businesses do, filing for unemployment is easy and should be the first step. When they file, make sure you have their starting dates before they go online to fill out the paperwork, it will time out so having everything they need on hand makes the process less stressful. When asked the question, “Will you be returning to work or do you have a date?” Have them answer no. Don’t worry about it now. Just get them in the system.
- If you have been paying yourself the correct way in a check, you will likely be eligible as well. Don’t hesitate. Fill out the paperwork. As a matter of fact, if you do it at the same time they do, you can be helpful to the process. Not that you need to be humbled, but it is a good dose of humility.
- Unless you have boatloads of cash reserve and many businesses do not, I would not suggest paying them right now for the time. Get them in the unemployment system. You will need your cash. I also asked my team not to drain the PTO/ sick or vacation time since that would also drain my cash reserves and they were fine with this.
- I removed any of the extra deductions for this last check, IRAS, Health insurance etc, just for them to maximize their final check. They were appreciative.
- If you are a 1099/ Independent contractor/ booth renter, traditional unemployment will not work for you. The Federal government is actively working on activating something called Unemployment Disaster Relief or something to that effect. I spoke with someone on the state level today from the Department of Labor and they were very helpful and this is what they told me. This will be a wait and see relief.
- If you have a linen service, trash service, cleaning service, call them and tell them the date(s) to stop. You are not going to be open, so you don’t need the services right now.
- Call your banks and deactivate your debit cards. This will help you gain control rapidly over all of the auto debits. Don’t forget Apple, PayPal, Google, Pandora or any other peripheral account that withdraws automatically.
- Prioritize the absolute musts of your bills. For example, business insurance, car insurance. Yes it totally sucks to be late on any bills, I am never late, but in this case, you need to reserve cash so pay what you must, but don’t overpay.
- Business loss insurance at this moment does not cover this loss. This is a pandemic, call your state congresspeople and ask them to pressure insurance companies to create a window of exemption. It will take a lot of us calling to even make this a possibility, but I definitely think it is worth the time.
- Credit cards for your business- call and ask them to reduce the rate and to temporarily stop the monthly fees they charge. There may not be any business coming in, why should you pay a fee for this?
- Clients- What we did was keep every single client on our schedule. We called them and told them we were postponing their appointments until we reopened and then we would call them and prioritize their rescheduling when we had an exact date of reopening. This will help you keep track of the clients and also how much potential business you are losing should insurance companies rally. (Thanks to my dear friend and salon owner, Claudia, for that last idea).
- We sent out emails announcing the closing then another email to tell them they didn’t have to call and cancel any appointments. We would leave them where they were so we would know to call them when we reopened.
- Remember to turn off confirmation emails if they are automated. We forgot and it was confusing.
- We also turned off online booking so that we didn’t have to block out the times for the next few weeks in case someone did happen to schedule online. It also saved us time for the future so we wouldn’t reschedule everyone, just to have to call them again and do it a second time. Clients were so nice and understanding.
- If you have any marketing or social media automated, please turn it off. There is nothing worse in a crisis situation then getting something irrelevant.
- If you are using a company like mind body, mail chimp or something like this, you may consider pausing it or asking for a temporary deactivation to save some money. I did this with Mailchimp. I tried it with my software company and just kept asking for a supervisor so I could get the word out that if they paused our monthly fees for even one month it would speak volumes in good business and kindness creating more loyalty than ever. Don’t hesitate to ask for this. THE MORE THEY HEAR FROM US….
- Check in with your team. I do have a cash reserve so I offered to loan anyone any money if it gets dire. No one has taken me up on this, but I know they feel better knowing it is there if they need it. Also especially check in with team members who are solo, living on their own, just to make sure they have what they need. Many of my team have partners income they rely on, many do not.
- Remind your clients that purchasing a gift card if it speaks to them is a great way to support local businesses. Though I don’t want to be selling a lot of them for the unknown that lies ahead, it sure does make some clients feel like they are helping a business they have loved to do business with.
- Remember the food pantry’s in this situation or if that is too big, remember to check in with the neighbors across the street and next door. Just a phone call makes a big difference in depression, and isolation.
- This could be a fun time to have zoom meetings, zoom dance parties, face time dinner parties with your friends and clients and your team. Wacky miraculous forms of entertainment are coming out of this disaster.
- Use this time to clean closets, work on that book you have been meaning to write or read, art projects with your kids, get fresh air, do jumping jacks and planks, call people. Try to use this unique global pause to disconnect from the media and stay connected with the people you love, family, friends and your team.
- This is badass leadership and you are a badass leader. If you don’t think you were, you are now.
- Good luck, stay safe. Any questions or comments email me firstname.lastname@example.org I am two full days into this new paradigm and two days is a lot of time in this business is closed world we are in.
- One more thing- if you want to get inspired, read OR watch anything about Winston Churchill. He was one of the baddest ass leaders around. Especially his quotes. Try to keep off the 24/7 news. Watch a little, turn it off. Turn on some calming music, open your windows or your curtains if it is too cold, light a candle.
- We will get through this. JUST KEEP SAYING IT.
“Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer.” Winston Churchill