How to Manage Your Service Business During A Pandemic

Your business revolves around customer relationships. Right now, you may feel like things are happening in starts and stops, but there are steps you can take to continue working with your customers and run your small business during COVID-19.

We’ve compiled tips for managing your business right now — whether you provide blowouts, massage therapy, personal training, tutoring, tax support, home repairs, manicures, or cleaning services.

Communicate with your customers

Customers are the lifeblood of your business, so keeping them informed is critical. Here are a few ways to do that:

Update your business hours and booking availability

Set your new operating hours for each of your locations to let customers know when you’re available or have reduced hours. You can adjust your booking availability in Square Appointments to prevent new appointments from being booked when you’re unavailable.

Post updates on your website

If you’ve changed the way you operate, make sure you post that information on your website, your social profiles, and your review site profiles. If you use Square Appointments, add a temporary message related to COVID-19 to the top of your online booking site.

Send email and post on social media

Keep your customers up to date: let them know how you’re maintaining a safe experience, what your new hours are, or if you’re closing for a period of time. Communicate that information through your social channels, over email, or anywhere else your customers engage with you.

If you use Square, you can send a free email. You can also add details to your customers’ automated email notifications on what they should expect before, during, and after their appointments.

Send digital contracts

Set expectations with customers by creating contactless agreements through Square Contracts. You can get your customers to sign over email before their next appointment.

Set up appointments for product pickup or private shopping

If you’re selling products, you can keep yourself and your employees safe — and give your customers some flexibility — by providing time slots for picking up orders or contact-free shopping. Have customers make an appointment on your online booking site.

Maintain your cash flow

Whether or not you’re an essential business, you need to continue to bring in revenue, safely. Here are a few ways you can do that:

Use touch-free or remote payments

If you’re seeing customers in person, you want to make sure you’re having as little contact as possible when customers pay. You might consider using a POS, like Square Terminal, with contactless payments and disabling the signature and receipt screens during checkout. Or you could use a remote payment option like invoices. (Learn about other touch-free and remote payment options.)

Make it easy for customers to book

If you offer in-person services, consider allowing your customers to book through QR codes. Print out your unique QR code and set it close to your checkout area, so customers can easily scan and book their next appointment.

Build in health and safety buffers

As you reopen, you may be experiencing increased customer demand. Cap the number of reservations you accept each day to help prevent overcrowding. With Square Appointments, you can also add a buffer before and after each appointment for sanitizing equipment, or even a longer block for deep cleaning.

Sell digital gift cards

Electronic gift cards can help increase cash flow while your business is closed. You can quickly set up an online ordering page for gift cards and then promote them to your loyal customers — who want to show their support. If you use Square Appointments, your customers can pay with gift cards directly on your online booking site.

Implement prepayments

If you’re taking appointments — either for now or later — you can aid your cash flow by asking for payment up front. With Square Appointments, you can allow customers to add a tip when prepaying, eliminating the need for a separate transaction. You can increase your cash flow by requiring that customers prepay for fixed-price services when they book online with Square Appointments.

Sell your products online

Connect with your customers in a new way by selling your products online. You can easily create an online store or sell via social media or email. If you create a website, you can also embed your online booking site into the navigation.

Try virtual appointments

You may have had a virtual meetup with friends or family recently. Why not do the same with your clients? You can set up your appointments to take place on a video platform like Google Meet or Skype.

More ideas by business type

Need some help thinking through specific ideas for shifting your business? We’ve come up with a few ideas for different service types to get you started:

Beauty and personal care

  • Setting up shop outside can help you adhere to safety rules while still maintaining an in-person experience.
  • Consider shipping at-home beauty kits with shampoo, conditioner, and moisturizing treatments so that customers can feel pampered at home.
  • You know people are worried about not getting their color treatments, so try custom touch-up color kits available for pickup, or virtual consultations to walk customers through the process.
  • Manicure, pedicure, or facial on-the-go kits are great for people to order for themselves or to send to someone who could use a pick-me-up.

Healthcare and fitness

  • Offer virtual appointments or consultations so that clients can continue any treatment or ask questions they may have during this time.
  • Virtual personal training or fitness classes are a fun way for people to keep up with their fitness. Invite people to dial in with friends to make it a group activity.
  • Consider sending out periodic emails, posting health or wellness tips to social media, or sharing a workout inspiration playlist for your clients.
  • Explore at-home measuring devices, like blood pressure cuffs and scales, to reduce the need for in-person visits.

Professional services

  • Continue to meet with existing clients via virtual appointments and send any forms or documents electronically, even ones requiring a signature.
  • Use email and social media to share timely information about your industry that might affect your clients.

Education

  • Conduct lessons or tutoring sessions online via video to continue working with students.
  • Try at-home assignments that encourage activity rather than focusing on a workbook. For example, you might assign math problems based on grocery shopping or writing recipes.
  • Hold virtual office hours for students who might require extra help right now.
  • Put together a list of distance learning supplies for your clients so they can get the most out of your lessons.

Home and repair

  • If your business allows it, consider going to a contact-free model. Use a combination of email, phone calls, and video chats to update customers, and send any contracts or paperwork over email.
  • Create a drop-off location where customers can safely return any equipment or products they’ve used.
  • If you’re doing in-home visits, first ask if anyone in the residence is ill or has flu-like symptoms before entering. Wear gloves or a mask, and sanitize and disinfect as you go.

Discuss how to adapt and shift your business with other business owners in one of our Community groups: