12 Easy Ways to Support Independent Service Professionals During Coronavirus Pandemic

Chances are you didn’t get a haircut, asked for a massage or facial, organized a dinner, or your housekeeper came to clean your closets in the spring – and I’m fine. Social distancing measures designed to prevent a tumultuous spread of the new coronavirus are painfully necessary as the United States is currently experiencing the largest COVID-19 epidemic of any country in the world. And livelihoods have been affected, making it difficult to financially support service providers as we have done before.

But that doesn’t mean you should cut ties with the people who help you tick those boxes on your to-do list, even if you can’t pay them right now. These service professionals are experiencing a devastating upheaval for their businesses; most cannot jump online to continue charging customers for services – they depend on a face-to-face experience that they simply cannot offer at the moment.

While most of these professionals have already made their way through eight weeks of social distancing orders across the country, the biggest challenges remain. Emergency savings have probably been used to combat the loss of income they have already experienced. While many heads of state have enacted relief programs for more professions than ever before, some independent business owners, especially those who are sole proprietors (they work completely alone!), May not be eligible to these programs. But the financial challenges may not be a type of adversity they need help to overcome: Many find it hard to rethink their services during this time, especially with regard to technology, and turn completely to digital marketing.

Since these unique professionals all have different needs, the editors of Good Housekeeping thought it best to ask them directly what kind of support they were looking for during this unprecedented period. We designed a survey and heard from over 60 service professionals in locations across the United States.. Here are some things that clients have already done to help, including the types of non-monetary assistance that independent service professionals are currently looking for:

What you can do to help service providers

Pay for products that you would normally only use in stores.

Many bars and restaurants have turned to delivery and takeout, as restaurant service is not possible, and it is important to support these businesses safely from their homes. But restaurants aren’t the only ones you can support right now with online orders. Many non-essential businesses – from spas and salons to wellness centers – that normally provide services still offer used products by these professionals in online stores. Karen Brost, owner of an independent spa center in Wisconsin, says her clients can help her generate income by purchasing the skincare products she uses in her professional treatments from clients to use at home.

The same can be said for many beauty professionals; Jacqui Farber, a hairstylist also in Wisconsin, says that she strives to provide her clients with root concealment treatments to help her pay rent and utility costs when she is unable to work. In addition, many of these professionals could help you get these products from your home if you just ask. “Our living room offers free home delivery, so don’t hesitate,” adds Shaina Cook, of the Napa Valley region.

And of course, if you decide to order products or use an online service from a business, consider offering an additional tip if you can – it can help service workers who may have lower incomes. due to the reduced number of customers. and store closings. Cook shared that a customer even tipped $ 350, which she said was a very welcome gesture to help her living room during this time.

Keep buying gift cards and vouchers.

You’ve heard it for weeks, but the promise of future business can sweep through service owners right now. Providing services or engaging in service in the future can help independent business owners plan for their business in the future. And for those who are not even able to sell products alongside their work, prepaid gift cards or appointments may be the only way for customers to provide immediate support to their business.

Karen Nason, owner and operator of Grand Central Wine Bar, a small bar and lounge with five employees nestled in Gorham, Maine, said the gift cards helped her cover some of the overhead costs associated with her business during that she was awaiting the arrival of federal loans. Many service providers must continue to pay rent for physical spaces such as storefronts, utilities, and supplies they ordered before the pandemic. In the case of Nason, his state-issued license also doesn’t allow him to pivot to pick up the sidewalk, so any immediate cash flow is a big help to offset monthly operating costs.

Some companies may also participate in local initiatives that allow customers to purchase gift certificates at a reduced rate due to the matching programs in place. Alison Alleva, owner and operator of Georgetown Massage and Bodywork in Washington DC, says her licensed massage therapists are unable to rotate their services during the pandemic, but says she encouraged clients to buy certificates at a discount because she understands that most have their own financial concerns. “We strive to assure our clients that our therapists will be there after all of this, and that their gift certificates are of great help, because any income we can get right now is crucial,” says Alleva.

Post information about your service providers on social media and check out sites like Yelp.

This is probably one of the simplest things you can do right now, even if you cannot afford to support your service providers financially. Writing reviews or sharing high-quality evidence of their work on your own social platforms can help these independent business owners gain visibility on social media. The team of planners from Mavinhouse Events, a wedding planning and design company serving clients in the New England area, says Good Housekeeping that the digital chatter around their services could expose them to customers they would not normally reach. “Leaving reviews is a very effective way for customers to help us,” says the team. “We are in the relationship business, so validating our partners and the community is essential for long-term sustainability as an event design and production company. It’s been our insurance policy for a year. “

Be patient while some service providers adjust to a new reality.

There are new rules to manage and the workforce is downsized in most cases, so there is a good chance that some service providers will not perform as well as before. This should not be said, but do not be quick to judge the quality of service if the process changed during the pandemic. “Please be nice to the people who are trying to help you get the things you need. It’s not easy for us either,” said Laura, a customer service delivery representative for New York based food. “We know you are stressed, but there is no need to get rid of it! We want you to be happy and fed too. “

Vera Smith, funeral director and embalmer operating in California, shares that she hopes her clients will be patient as they face new laws. “We are doing our best with the parameters that the authorities have given us,” she said. Lavinia Balaj, who operates a residential assisted living center in Glendale, Arizona, adds that she is grateful to families who emphasize gratitude and appreciation rather than frustration.

There will certainly be new changes as companies reopen in the coming months. Denise Cournoyer, salon owner and esthetician, says returning customers can help by following all of the new safety and sanitation policies, which include changes such as adding 10 to 15 minutes between the Rendez Vous. “There may be new rules imposed on us that are beyond our control,” said Gigi Worrad, hairdresser from Wrightstown, New Jersey. “It will take time and will most likely be a long process. Be patient. We will do our best when we can get back to work. “

Subscribe to all digital offers alongside your friends and family.

Coaches and gymnasium staff turn to digital services, offering live streaming lessons that you can sign up for at home. They’re not alone: ​​some service professionals can already offer group experiences to generate new income while closing storefronts or stopping to make new appointments.

Kate Homes, Founder and CEO of Carried Away Chefs, a New York-based hybrid food and culinary services company, shares that one of her customers offered an online cooking demo series after the cancellation of a cooking demonstration in person following the pandemic. “The excitement I felt after finishing the live demo with my” over 100 cooking buddies “was beyond words. It was fun and exciting and I felt like the beginning of something fantastic for me, my business and my family, ”she says. Good Housekeeping. “As if all the noise clouded by my brain had subsided, I suddenly wanted to do something I always wanted – to share my culinary talents and my personality with the world. This and the opportunity to continue building relationships with my clients and their communities will survive the COVID crisis. ”

Start planning for the rest of the season (or year) now.

Unless you feel compelled to do so, try not to provide services around your home that you would normally pay someone else – this may give you a chance to pay your service provider. to come up. Many estheticians and hairdressers, for example, have shared in surveys that the most important thing their clients can do during this time is to wait until they color and cut their hair and return to their services as usual. habit when they reopen. Debbie Turmel, hairdresser based in Riverview, Florida, adds that clients can help her further in her future endeavors by booking appointments, which can help her evaluate her schedule when she eventually reopens her business. And of course, if you want to go further, you can even offer to pay in advance for your next appointment – that Shaina Cook, based in California, shares with many of her clients.

This courtesy can be considered for more professionals, even outside of the beauty area: think of gym subscriptions, deep cleanings, seasonal gardening, tutoring sessions, interior decoration upgrades and d other routine services you can plan now.

At the Grand Central Wine Bar, Nason hopes that his regular clientele will continue to plan their private events according to the coming seasons, even if they are on a much smaller scale. Think: graduation parties, summer evenings, intimate weddings or picturesque functions. “Without customers coming into the bar, I’m just a thought to most people right now,” says Nason. “But we are always thinking about the future. We are already receiving calls from event planners saying,” How can we make our next party more intimate and safer? We may not return to the scale we are used to right away, but we will survive this kind of activity in the near future. ”

Take a few minutes to register, even if it’s just to say hello.

No, you don’t bother them – even if you can’t provide any financial or economic support to your service provider, an uplifting message and a sincere hello may be exactly what these professionals are currently looking for. “The simple fact of letting us know that they can’t wait to come in and support us is edifying,” says Kathy Lee Ballard, esthetician and makeup artist in Dover, Delaware.

Other companies share that their customers have already sent messages of support, including Marina Halpern, who owns Padoca’s favorite pastry shop on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. “Our community has been wonderful and their messages are really what keeps me going,” says Marina. “I get a call or a message from someone almost everyday, with pictures of their kids, questions about cooking, or asking how we do it – I shared some recipes with some of our regulars and see them baking our pastries at home made me smile so many times! “

Nora Logsdon, dietician for Meals On Wheels of Northeast Ohio – a home meal program for homebound seniors – shares the fact that many consumers of the program also come to express their gratitude for their continued efforts. “A consumer met a new volunteer last week who is the pastor of a local church. He said he needed all of his will not to reach out and shake his hand, “she said. Good Housekeeping. “He expressed tears of gratitude that we continue to deliver meals and that we are contacting them by phone to verify this. He said how good it is to know that someone is thinking about him and watching him. ”

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How to help service providers in the coming months, analysts and insiders say

Across the country, states are reopening non-essential businesses at their own pace, and the reintroduction of non-essential services is likely to be staggered in your area. That said, even if the companies get a deal from the local government, that doesn’t mean the customers will all come back at the same time.

Pamela Slim, the business coach behind Body of work and founder of local business advocacy group K’é Main Street Learning Lab in Mesa, Arizona, says that many service providers in her community are currently overwhelmed by the prospect of recovery, particularly those who cannot -be not accessing federal assistance through stimulus programs. Here’s what you can do to help, according to business experts:

  1. Don’t ask for a refund, even if you have to cancel prepaid services. If you have the financial means to do so, turning your payment for a training session or deep tissue massage into a donation can make a substantial difference to service providers, says Slim. You may even be able to write it off later as a charitable donation in your finances. For Diane Alonso, the sole owner of Flowers by Diane in Hoboken, New Jersey, cancellations and refund requests derailed all profit in April because of other administrative costs (credit card transaction fees and fees preventive orders) affected its ability to repay deposits. “The word” cancellation “could mean a lot more to us than it does to customers,” says Alonso. “The postponement is better, asking for a credit for a future service can help us a lot right now.”
  2. Ask them for digital consultations. Even though the service they provide normally requires human interaction, requesting a digital consultation may allow you to pay them for coaching or virtually rendered instructions, says Slim. “I have seen hairdressers and beauticians, as a quick example, make specific pivots where they teach their Zoom clients,” she says. “If there is a way to virtually provide you with competent service, you don’t have to wait for them to offer it.” If they don’t have access to the tools to do so, such as a phone or laptop, Slim says you should consider lending or giving them away if you have the financial means to do so.
  3. Send them a “referral gift.” Danielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and co-founder of payment solutions provider GlossGenius, said her wellness customers will be looking for new customers to fill their schedules when they can finally resume their business – that’s where you intervene. “Send an email to close contacts on your network and ask if they are looking for a recommendation for a specific type of professional service,” advises Cohen-Shohet. “If they respond, be sure to refer them to the company on site.”
  4. Contact your city councilor. This local representative is often the one who could coordinate efforts on behalf of business owners or service providers who are in need in their communities. “It could be something as simple as grocery delivery, or one-time grants that occur in specific areas of the city that can be very specific to what’s going on locally,” says Slim. “They can connect you with non-profit organizations that may have specific programs that your service provider may ignore.”
  5. Offer your administrative skills as support, sharing as many resources as possible. Deeplaxmi Adke, Founder of Her Handshake, a community of female entrepreneurs and service providers based in DC, says that many women in her organization are asking for help to resolve a huge amount of paperwork associated with helping financial. And some might not be aware of the programs made available to them in the first place. “I pushed out information about loans and grants to my members, encouraging them to apply,” adds Adke. “As women, we tend to hesitate to ask for help or money, and sometimes think there are others who need it more. Educate and encourage the companies you know, respectfully.” Even by simply offering to do research for them or by writing an outline of the information they will need to seek help, this can be of great help.
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      How to keep service professionals safe while they work for you

      Social distancing measures are among the most important security measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But states are lifting home stay orders in hopes of reviving the economy, some sooner than others – and freelance professionals and business owners must get back to work at at some point. Whether in two months or at the end of the year, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk to any service professional you work with. Jonathan Fielding, MD, former director of public health for Los Angeles County and a prominent professor of health policy and management at the schools of public health and medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, says these measures will significantly reduce the risk that you will affect service professionals in your community. .

      1. Always wear a properly fitted mask or face covering. You can discover the best ways to keep your face covered with our illustrated guide, which shows how wearing a face mask can prevent you from spitting out contagious droplets without knowing it in your neighborhood. “It will help keep everyone around you safe,” he says.
      2. Wash and disinfect your hands constantlyand wear gloves if it helps you remember not to touch other surfaces if possible. Gloves are not always the best way to keep your hands free of COVID-19 germs, but Dr. Fielding says they could help you remember to keep your hands to yourself if possible, and to refrain from touching your face.
      3. Properly dispose of your personal protective equipment (PPE). “If you just throw your gloves and your mask on the floor or at the bottom of your cart / cart, a service provider will have to clean that up,” says Dr. Fielding. “Wash your hands immediately after removing your PPE – rather than removing it from the parking lot, it’s best to wait and take it off at home.”
      4. Buy or enter a business alone. If you have to leave your home to enter a business, don’t make it a family affair. This could reduce the impact of your own health on others, or vice versa.
      5. Stay 6 feet from people as much as possible. You can laugh at viral videos of hairdressers using sticks or other tools to avoid cramming on their clients now, but the idea has something valid. “Six feet is approximately the length of two standard grocery carts. This may mean that you have to wait until someone clears an aisle, ”says Dr. Fielding. “It’s okay, expect it to take a little while and wait. Don’t bump into someone for the last item you need.”
      6. Don’t get angry if someone wants to take your temperature or ask you how you are feeling. Service providers can do this under the direction of their local government. “For some services, you may be asked to wait in your car until your appointment. Ask your service providers if you are unsure of their policies while they are starting to open up, “says Dr. Fielding. “Expect not being able to bring your children / someone else to a service appointment, and expect people to want to take your temperature before providing services.
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