The covid-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to normal life. Uncertainty, fear and hardship are the aftermath for many small businesses, possibly including yours. Instead of being frazzled and paralyzed, I encourage you to shift your thinking.
You have an opportunity to be a cornerstone in your community
As we move towards reopening our economy, most people will continue to have concerns about how to go about their daily life, safely. Mental health professionals, wholistic and physical healthcare providers, gyms, and other supportive entities are such an important part of most people’s health and well-being. Re-establishing connections with physical and mental health supportive care will help move everyone towards equilibrium.
Here are ten things you can implement now to get ready.
- Connect with your patients/clients. If you have not already done so, reach out to your established patients/clientele to check in and see how they are doing. Express your genuine concern for their safety and well-being. This can be accomplished through an email, a phone call or a letter. Let them know your anticipated time-frame for reopening and how to reach you if they have any questions.
- Outline your safety procedures. Communicate clearly about the steps you are taking to provide a safe environment. Highlight your sanitizing procedures and your ability to implement safe-distancing protocol. Let patients/clientele know you are staying on top of and following the CDC and local government guidelines for your type of business. Post this on your website and social media sites, as well as in your office.
- Establish a policy regarding illness and exposure to the virus. Have a written policy stating that patients should not come to your business if they are ill or have certain symptoms, have been exposed to someone diagnosed with or exposed to covid-19, or have traveled to an area with an outbreak. Ask them to reschedule after they have recovered, or their risk has passed.
- Use a checklist to help guide you to prepare for safely reopening your practice/business. Here is Washington State’s Healthcare Planning Checklist.
- Get creative with promotions. Highlight upcoming events, such as Mother’s or Father’s Day or create enticing specials to sell packages, products and gift certificates.
- Offer tele-med or virtual options if possible. Gyms are offering online classes, mental health professionals are providing virtual counseling sessions and medical providers are consulting with their patients through tele-med. Even after the pandemic has passed, it may be advantageous to keep some of these options in place.
- Become an expert in your field. For some, offering their service virtually is impossible, e.g. massage therapy. However, sharing information and suggestions that may help your patients maintain their health in the interim, can establish you as a helpful authority. This may include stretching tips, self-massage techniques or helpful products and tools. Showing that you genuinely care by providing free and useful information will also garner customer loyalty.
- Use down time constructively. One way to combat your own stress about things you cannot control is managing those that you can. Organize your business’s physical space including, files, cabinets, storage rooms, etc. Do a comprehensive deep cleaning. Paint tired walls and spruce up décor. Train your front desk staff. Take online continuing education classes to enhance your own skills or satisfy licensing requirements.
- To prepare for future disruptions, develop strategies and review your current setup. This pandemic took most people by surprise. Now is a good time for contingency planning and reviewing the effectiveness of your organization’s systems. Seek financial advice for setting up a monetary reserve. Implement sources of income that do not rely on in-office visits. Evaluate your business structure. Examine your pricing and the value you provide. Re-evaluate your business insurance if applicable. Consider how your third-party support team has functioned for you. This includes your accountant or accounting software, EHR provider, billing provider, online appointment scheduler and other SAS providers.
- Create a formal plan to make up lost income. Review your database to see what patients are overdue for a visit. Contact them to schedule appointments prior to your date to reopen. Establish your marketing strategy 6 months into the future. Be sure to consider the increased patient load when designing your schedule.
- Keep connected with your staff. You may have had to furlough some or all of your staff. If so, keep them in the loop regarding new procedures and protocols and your plans to reopen. If possible, bring them back early to help with scheduling and to receive training. Provide a positive and relaxed environment that is focused on helping your patients.
Get prepared. Have a plan. Stay connected.