Reopening your business after lockdown in 2021
You’ve had to sit back and watch thousands of people commit crimes against hair (and not just on their head) and attempt at home facials during lockdown, but the official word from Boris is that it’s almost time to open your doors again! Your clients will be desperate to see you when that time comes, so Timely is here to help you manage your business, and get ready for the reopening rush!
Get ready for the reopening rush
- Set your calendar up for success
- Keep your clients up to date
- Get ready for your bookings to take off
- Fill your calendar with bookings
How to keep your staff, clients, and business safe
Set your calendar up for success
Social distancing has changed the way we do a lot of things; like elbow bumping instead of high fiving and doing home workouts with cans of baked beans. It’s also changed the way you see your clients, and you might need to make changes to your business hours to keep up with new health and safety practices like having limited numbers of people in your salon at once.
Before you start taking bookings again, you should set up your calendar with changes to your hours and roster your staff accordingly. It’s a good idea to stagger your appointment start times so clients don’t all arrive at once; you can even ask clients to wait in their cars and use Timely’s SMS feature to send them a message when you’re ready for them to enter the salon.
If you’ve got lots of staff members, you also might want to roster the same ones together for certain shifts, to limit how many different staff are interacting with each other.
Give yourself some space with padding time
You can use our padding time feature to automatically add a time buffer to the start or end of your services (or service groups). This will help with any additional time your staff might need to clean and prepare the salon for your next client. Plus with plenty of time between clients, it reduces the chance that you’ll overcrowd your salon.
Note: The UK government recommends adding padding time between every client to allow time for new cleaning and safety protocols. Read the full guidance doc here
Keep your clients up to date
Much like how we all now need to queue up to do the supermarket shopping, the experience for your clients in your salon is going to be different too. You should let them know what’s changing and what they should expect from their next appointment, and a great way to communicate with your clients is with SMS messages.
Our bulk SMS rates are the cheapest in the market, so you can send a high value message to all of your clients or just a few targeted ones, without breaking the bank. Using advanced targeting, you can let clients know via SMS when your business will reopen, what new health and safety rules you both need to follow, and include your online booking link so clients can book ahead.
Prefer email over SMS? Timely integrates with MailChimp, so you can easily create and send ad-hoc or automated emails and newsletters to keep your clients up to date or even promote your business, and monitor the results.
You should also update your automated messages, like appointment confirmations and reminders, to highlight any new health and safety protocols that clients need to know about before their appointment. This is required by the UK government and will help to keep them in the loop. Win-win!
Check out this blog for some great ideas for SMS Campaigns.
Tip: Customise your SMS and email campaigns so every interaction with your clients reinforces your brand and reflects well on your business.
Get ready for your bookings to take off
Set up online booking
This is the perfect time to set up online booking and let Timely do the hard work for you! It’s the easiest way for you to manage your bookings, saving you hours of admin time trying to handle the flood of appointment requests.
Using online booking;
- Your clients can book 24/7 from your website, Instagram, Facebook page, an SMS, or an email.
- You’ll stay in control of your calendar and maximise staff productivity and profit with (optional) features like Minimise the gaps, which only shows online booking availability before and after booked timeslots.
- You can add clients to a waitlist and take advantage of all the customers trying to get an appointment, and easily fill any last-minute cancellations!
- You can also take part or full online deposits to secure an appointment and get rid of no shows.
- Use booking questions to share important safety information with your clients when they book to make sure you’re following the reopening protocols.
- If you need to stop performing a service for a while because it doesn’t meet safety protocols you can set that service to not appear in your Online Booking.
Tip: Customise your online booking so it matches your brand and looks sleek and professional. Timely has online booking options that can easily be customised for everyone’s needs – it’s a no brainer!
Take deposits or full payment for every booking
Taking a part or full deposit before an appointment means you benefit from getting cash up front, you’re offering a contactless payment option, and there’s also a reduced risk of no-shows. Your clients will understand, and some even prefer it to help spread the cost over a longer period, and it saves them from having to faff around paying after their appointment.
You also have the option of enabling No show protection and Card capture, so you can charge your clients’ cards for if they don’t show up (and in accordance with your cancellation policy).
Heard of TimelyPay? It’s the easiest way to take online payments, and only take a few minutes to get set up! With TimelyPay you can also capture clients’ card details for contactless payments, which is great when physical distancing still needs to be enforced after lockdown. Get to know TimelyPay
Tip: Make online payments work for you by controlling which services require deposits and how much the deposit is.
Set it up in Timely:
Setting up deposits and prepayments
Set up service groups
It’s been a while since your clients have booked in so why not simplify the booking experience with service groups. You can bundle services together so it’s simple for your clients to book the right thing. Plus if you need to add processing time between services Timely can even book in services in your down time to make the most out of your day.
NOTE: The government recommends you try and keep your services as short as possible and set up a safe space for clients to sit during processing times.
You could take things a step further and take advantage of the demand when your doors reopen by offering premium packages/bundles. You can’t see everyone at once and there will be restrictions on how many clients you can see, so premium packages are a great way to encourage clients to try out more services helping you to get more return on every client seen.
Simplify your service list with premium bundles/packages that let you maximise your revenue and reduce the low cost, quick services. Seeing 10 clients paying £150 each is going to be much easier to manage than seeing 20 clients paying £75 each.
Tip: To do this in Timely, create service groups that can be booked online and turn off all other services for the first few days after you open your bookings up. Once the most eager clients or your VIPs have filled the first spots, you can enable the rest of your services to be booked again.
Set it up in Timely:
Set up new service groups in Timely
Fill your calendar with bookings
There are lots of creative ways to let your clients know you’re open again that don’t involve donning a giant lipstick costume and dancing around with a cardboard sign. If that’s your thing, go for it! But just in case it’s not, here are some other options for you.
Use SMS campaigns
Our customer, The Gentry, sent an SMS campaign to 190 clients, costing them $57. They received 128 bookings and $4,000 in deposits in 24 hours. That’s a pretty good return on investment!
There are a few ways you can use SMS campaigns to tell your clients you’re open.
1. There will be clients who missed their bookings when you closed – let them know you’re open for bookings first. These clients are going to be the most in need of an appointment and they’ll be grateful you prioritised them.
How? Filter clients who had an appointment booked during the dates you’ve been closed.
2. Let your VIP’s know that you’re open again and they’re first in line. If you haven’t marked anyone as a VIP you can go through your favourites and high spenders and mark them as VIP before you send this.
How? Use the VIP checkbox in SMS campaigns and follow this guide if you need to add VIPs.
3. Just go crazy and send your booking link to all of the clients who have booked in the last 12 months and give them all an equal chance of getting in first.
How? Use the date range filter to select clients who have booked appointments in the last 12 months.
Help Guide: How to send an SMS campaign
Get social from a distance using Instagram and Facebook
Use your social reach and have some fun with it! Set a date and time that bookings will open, create a live countdown and flick the switch to let your followers book in first.
Help guide: Set up Instagram and Facebook booking
Set yourself up for contact tracing
In the new world, lots of businesses will need to keep track of their clients for contract tracing purposes; not just their name and phone number but also their home address, email, and other details you might not already have. Don’t worry, Timely can help to make this an easy process!
You can add a link to your reminder messages that lets clients check and update their contact details, and if you need to ask for more information you can send your clients a custom form to fill out before they arrive with any additional questions. Learn more about creating and sending custom forms
Help guide: How to automate contact tracing
Reduce your clients’ time in the salon
Making coffee for clients while they read magazines and wait for their appointment is going to be some time away, so it’s worth thinking about what this experience looks like for your clients now. There’s also an opportunity to make your salon more efficient; if you can perform some services online (like pre service consultations) or have forms filled out before your clients arrive, your salon will be humming with high-value services and quick client turnover!
Start consultations before your clients arrive
You can create and customise your own digital forms and send them to your clients to fill out and send back before their appointment. They can even add photos, so you can review their information and make sure you’re already on top of the details or request any further information before they arrive.
Set up video consultations
If your consultations are more in-depth, set up a video call with your clients through Timely to walk through their consultation and save yourself that time in the salon.
Send forms based on services
Create and assign forms to each service and set up your messages so that when a client books that service with you, the right form is automatically added to the client’s reminder message.
Automate pre-care instructions and eligibility checks
With the ability to send forms for specific services, you can automatically request important pre-service information and run screening checks to make sure clients meet your criteria for their booked services.
Use our COVID-19 health template
Capture client contact details and health history before their appointment, and ask them to agree to new health and safety policies.
Change the way clients wait with SMS
Lots of businesses won’t be able to have clients waiting in the salon for their service to start, and one way to help with this is to use SMS to keep clients up to date. For example, as one client leaves, you can message your next client to tell them you’ll be ready in five minutes or let them know you’re running a touch late. This will be new for everyone, but as long as you keep clients in the loop and make sure they know it’s for everyone’s safety, they’ll be on board.
Make payments contactless
Taking full payments for online booking means that your bank account is happy and your clients are all paid up when they arrive so you won’t need to take payment in store. Laybuy is also a great option; it’s completely contactless and your clients are able to spread that cost which is a great option for them right now.
Clients can also pay in your salon using cardless checkout, which is when you’ll charge their saved card stored in TimelyPay and they don’t need to use their physical card at all. Easy!