Communication, Communication, Communication
Just as it was when we went into lockdown, communication continues to be key right now and will continue to be as things change over time. It doesn’t matter if you have any ideas of a reopening plan or not right now but keeping your clients in the loop will stop them from making up their own narrative about what you might or might not do.
You can do this by letting them know your current plans, keeping them informed, even if there are no changes, and asking them for their input.
Don’t feel you have to know what you are going to do next. There are still a large number of unknowns and it is completely ok to say to clients you are sticking with the current service until you know more but as soon as you have a plan they’ll be the first to know. There is nothing wrong with keeping things as they are, whether that is working with clients in an online capacity or not. Just keep reassuring them and talking to them about the existing service. Keep celebrating their successes and talking about their goals as their goals will potentially vary a lot over this time as they go through different emotions and need different things from your service (see my blog Meeting Psychological Needs in a Changing World ).
We also have a responsibility to reinforce the rules so, however frustrating the situation is, aim to give a clear message that you will be sticking to the rules and that you support them. If your clients think you are ok with bending the rules now they are unlikely to trust you when you tell them later in the transition that you have taken due care to ensure it is a safe environment for them to return to! Also, whilst your clients want to support you they are also dealing with their own situation so try to avoid making them feel you are only interested in how things impact you and your business. Reconfirm that the safety of them, their families and your own are the most important thing to you.
We still don’t know the next steps so don’t make set plans yet! We can hope that, if things go the way we all want them to, we may be able to go back to some kind of in person coaching in July but that still has a lot of ifs and maybes in it.
If having some plans in mind help you, then you could consider rough plans for if you can train people outside, if you can train people on a 1 to 1 basis and / or if you can train in small groups, all with appropriate hygiene and social distancing in place.
If the thought of planning for different scenarios stresses you out then don’t, stick to what you are doing now and address the next steps as and when they become clearer (we’ll be sharing tips to help at that time too).
It’s worth bearing in mind that even when steps can be made, it may not be the right time for you and your business to make them. There is a very real potential that different client groups may be able to do more than others at certain points in the plan, childcare, the risk factor for different individuals, things such as whether people are working from home or their office will all impact individual’s ability and willingness to “go back to normal”.
With this in mind, as things do start to change make sure you are asking your clients how they feel about things, what their situation is, if they would be willing and able to return or what conditions that would be conditional on.
It’s not all bad, people don’t have a great number of choices when it comes to exercise right now and even being allowed to exercise outside more won’t help people who don’t run, cycle or do long walks! Everyone knows this is going to continue for a while and for a lot of people the realisation that if they continue as they have been they are going to regret it is kicking in. There are a lot of people right now thinking they need to do something about their health and fitness! Take control of their eating and either minimise damage or undo some of the weight gain they have had in the last few weeks. This presents an opportunity.
Hopefully, you’ve been posting about what your clients have been doing with you during lockdown, celebrating their achievements and the benefits they’ve identified (with their consent of course). Now is a good time to build on that, to ask them if they know anyone else who might be interested in your service and to do a post or 2 letting people know how they can benefit too. Highlight that you understand that things are difficult and that people may not be ready to make huge changes but that they can still benefit from working with you and use your client narratives to demonstrate that (aiming for both proof of concept and social proof).
Lastly, although I know it doesn’t apply to everyone, for those eligible for the self employed support, emails are arriving now and you can double check your eligibility on the gov site. There will be another email when the scheme is open to applications (expected 13-18 May) with the money arriving 6 days after application.