You might be waiting for the green light to reopen your wellness business, or maybe you're already open but unsure how best to proceed. Regardless of where you are in the reopening process, it's tricky and new to us all. You need to reconsider your physical space, online presence, and staff schedules — everything is on the table to change.

 

So, how do you do it? We talked to the experts — businesses that have already reopened and experienced positive results.

 

  1. Ask your customers what they want

 

Whether it's a formal survey or an Instagram poll, don't make a decision about your business without getting feedback from your customers first. If your customers tell you that they aren't ready to return to your salon for a haircut, it probably makes sense to wait on reopening. By contrast, if your clients are eagerly awaiting their first workout session, you know that you've got revenue waiting for you. (In fact, Mindbody research has found that around 80% of consumers plan on returning to their same beauty and wellness professionals.)

 

Once your survey is complete, remember that you don't have to put everything your customers ask for into place. Ultimately, it is your call on how to approach the post-lockdown era but knowing that you're aligned with your customers' interests will help you maintain your client base when you need them most.

 

Solid Rock Training in Norman, Oklahoma, asked customers for feedback about what they'd like to see once the studio reopened. "We put ourselves in our clients' shoes," co-owner Bob Algard said. "We called our clients and asked them, 'What would make you feel comfortable, calm, and safe coming back to the gym?' Then we started staging everything so that what we already have in the studio is done systematically."

 

  1. Keep in touch through marketing

 

As your business reopens, it's pivotal that your customers know that you're there for them. Hang banners on your business or place a yard sign on a street corner to draw attention to your reopened status. While you might experience an initial rush as your clients eagerly come back from being stuck at home, make sure you're keeping in touch with them after that first appointment or class back. After you work through your waitlist for haircuts, waxing, or massage, or you see fitness class attendance dip, you'll need a way to re-engage your customers. That's where a marketing strategy comes in.

 

If you are considering pulling back on how much you spend on marketing, consider low- or no-cost marketing options like social media and email marketing. Build out an automated email campaign that will keep your customers engaged for weeks—think about creating a grand reopening announcement email, followed up with special offers regularly for the weeks that follow.

 

Cintia Quinzani made sure that customers knew about the reopening of By Claudia Spas in Georgia. "We had a big campaign letting people know that we're open," Quincani said. "You have to be creative and think ahead about what you're going to do next to keep them coming. If you don't keep contacting them to keep coming, it dries up—and they don't come."

 

By Claudia had new customers come to the business because of their marketing pushes and taking advantage of the absence of any marketing by its competitors.

 

  1. Manage capacity with online booking

 

The days of the walk-in appointment are over—due to capacity limitations, it's time to manage who is coming to your spa or salon. Requiring your customers to pre-book appointments allows you to block time to clean and disinfect between customers and follow social distancing or other guidelines required by your local government.

 

Pressed Roots in Dallas, Texas, made the switch from allowing walk-ins to requiring online booking to reopen in mid-May. "We used to do walk-ins, but now we're doing appointment-only because we're running out of modified capacity to maintain social distancing standards," Founder Piersten Gaines said.

 

The same goes for fitness—because you'll need to reduce class capacity due to social distancing guidelines, requiring online booking will help you manage the size of your classes. You can even go so far as to have customers book the exact space they'll use during class as Solid Rock Training does.

 

By requiring online booking for its classes, Solid Rock Training can consistently maintain full classes by automatically using a waitlist to fill empty spots as they arise.

 

"It's easier for the client to use, and it creates a better booking process," Algard said. "And honestly, it's just fun—you get to know where you're going to go in class. And if you have a favorite place in the gym, you get to select it."

 

  1. Make a financial plan

 

Whatever strategy you choose, you'll need a financial plan for reopening and the weeks and months that follow. Don't treat your plan as if it's set in stone—you'll likely have to pivot. Flexibility in your business strategy will be crucial to surviving the reopening phase, but a financial plan will help give you guardrails about what's most important to you and what can be cut.

 

Jess Hughes, CEO of Houston-based Citizen Pilates, puts it this way, "This is not the time to play the short game. Dissect your financials and cut frivolous costs burning through your retained earnings."

 

If you promoted gift cards during your closure, make sure you're accounting for the revenue loss you'll experience now as people redeem them. If you changed the expiration dates of class or appointment packages, keep in mind that your renewal dates will be different, and customers may be using packages they purchased in February.

 

If you're not sure where to start building a plan, Mindbody has guides on how to reopen your business. Own a spa, salon, massage therapy studio, or other wellness business? Get your guide here. Own a fitness business? Download your guide here.

 

You can do this, and we're rooting for you.