“We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin
Before you can start to solve a problem, you must first assess it and assess yourself. While this pandemic is certainly unlike anything seen in our lifetimes, it is probably not the first trial or tribulation you have faced. How do you normally solve problems? Understanding not just what you do but how you do it allows for you to replicate the approach to solving an issue regardless of the problem.
Knowing what you are naturally good at and what you need outside help with will also allow you to spend your energy and efforts in ways that move you forward versus spin your wheels. COVID-19 has presented itself as an obstacle for our current situation and as a business owner (and human being) you may feel frustrated, overwhelmed or paralyzed with fear. All of these feelings are normal however not all reactions to your feelings are helpful.
Fill Your Bucket
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, but before you can solve problems, you have to “put on your own oxygen mask first” so you can not only survive but thrive during this time. This means you need to fill your bucket and know how you can relax and de-stress so you can establish that as part of your schedule.
The brain cannot function in any one capacity all of the time. In order for you to be the most creative, the most productive and the most clear-headed, you need to take care of all your basic biological needs. Some of those needs are obvious, such as nutritious food, exercise, sleep, and fresh air and sunshine.
Taking a break from social media, the 24-hr news cycle, or even work can lead to refreshed perspective. Your brain cannot be “working” all the time and understanding this allows you to not only schedule in self-care but also not feel guilty about watching a movie, playing with your children outside or going for a walk. Self-care looks different to different people. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you enjoy reading, movies, taking a bath or getting a massage? Or none of these? Reacting to problems as well as trying to solve them empties your bucket. You need to know yourself so you can fill your bucket well and often.
When it comes to the specific issues that pandemics have on your wedding business, you need to make sure you have established a cancellation, refund and postponement protocol. You may always require waivers to be signed regarding clients’ possibly COVID-19 symptoms, recent travel and/or COVID-19 exposure, as well as waiving responsibility for potentially contracting the virus. Some also include each person’s contact information for contact tracing purposes should there be an outbreak from the event. This can all be done electronically on the morning of the wedding so as not to interfere with the event itself. If you don’t have something in place, now is the time to assess what you need to add to your contract and make sure you and your staff know this policy inside and out.
You want to encourage postponing over cancelling and in the case of a new date that you cannot accommodate, think creatively as to how you can credit or attribute options for your clients to swap suppliers or products to take care of their needs.
Now is also the time (if you haven’t already) to get to know other suppliers you previously thought of as your competitors. Working together is important as they might have a date/time available you don’t and vice versa. Demonstrating community over competition is your opportunity to provide exceptional customer service for both the benefit of your business and your couples’ happiness.
Create Your Action Plan
After composing yourself, create your statement on your policies and the current situation, and your network of other professionals, and create both a social media post version as well as a letter to your clients.
In your letter, include:
- empathy (We understand how frustrating and difficult this time is for you…)
- your action plan and policies (We will be offering credit/refunds/etc. as per our cancellation policy…)
- your commitment to them (We remain committed to making your wedding day amazing whenever it is rescheduled to be…)
If you have a brick and mortar location that needs to close or adjustments made due to new guidelines, be sure to include that information also. (To ensure the safety of our staff and our clients, we are closed for regular appointments and are taking all sanitation precautions as recommended by the Department of Health and medical community. We will reopen when advised it is clear to do so.)
If there are ways you can still service your clients (contactless setup/pickup, virtual services, etc.), be sure to include those notes and instructions.
Show Up On Social Media
Lastly, don’t give up on social media. Use IGTV, Facebook Live or Instagram Live, or your Facebook or Instagram stories and posts to help communicate to your clients (include your letter as a post and story) as well as to offer advice for ways to still celebrate their love. Perhaps it is with a new service offering you have or a product box they can purchase to celebrate pre-wedding day.
Also use social media to help spread hope and joy. Remember why you started in the wedding industry in the first place. Remember all the love and happiness weddings produce. Focus on the beauty and good of what you do and the lives you touch. Helping your clients keep their head when they feel like the world is falling apart helps them trust you as the expert you are and provides a strong testimonial for all your future clients to have full confidence in you.
You’ve got this. And know you are not alone. We are here to help and you can email or DM us anytime with your questions or concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe and remember that this too shall pass.