How do you manage lost or canceling customers? That is the common question most small businesses face right now. What do you do with your clients, your customers, your parents, or your families? If you are in the childcare business and schools are closing, how do you handle such closures? How do you respond to customers pausing or canceling?

I wanted to give you some strategies because as a marketing agency, this is definitely something that we have been dealing with each and every single day. And sadly, it’s one of the first things that small business owners and local businesses either cut or scale back on, is the marketing. Let me share with you some of the strategies that we have been using.

We can preach and talk till we’re blue in the face and show all of the statistics that say—this is the absolute best time to double down. And we’re surely saying that, and I would say that’s resonated with X percent of the people that have reached out and said, “Hey, Michael, I mean, we really don’t have a ton of cash coming in. What do we do? What can we work out here?”

I want to give you some different options. Now, this is largely catered to the services industry, which is a pretty broad phrase. This could be if people are pausing or pushing out different services. If you’re a contractor or an accountant, that’s not really something that you can heavily push back, but maybe someone was looking at opening up a 401k plan for their team. Obviously, if you’re in the client or consulting space or anything b2b, a lot of these people are free freezing and they’re trying to stop the bleeding.

So how do you react?

I will tell you that the way that I was initially reacting was totally different from what we’re executing today.

The first thing is if you’re in some kind of recurring payment. For example, you own a dance studio, you can do one of two things. So let’s make the assumption that your dance studio is closed since it’s not considered an essential business, and most of those kinds are closed right now.

We’ll talk about other ways of virtual income and different things like that. It’s more of “what do you do then with the families that they basically choose to withdraw for the time being?” And they say, “Well, we really don’t want to pay anything because you’re closed and we’re not getting anything.”

Now there’s that mentality. There’s also the mentality of, “well, we’re bleeding cash, so we have to cut.” And then you’re going to have a certain set of people that they know that it’s a small business and maybe they’re willing to pay 50%, for example. And this has been on a case by case basis. I’ve seen every business and every niche handled things differently. From niche to niche from state to state, county to county, there really is no secret sauce or a secret formula. It’s really more based on what you’ve done in the past. And if you’ve had situations where you’ve had to close for whether it’s weather-related or the current pandemic, then there really is no perfect scenario. But what I’m most interested in, in the topic today is how do you salvage as much of that business that goes on pause or ask to reschedule?

On the other side, a lot of contractors are still doing well—home renovations are still ongoing for some. However, some customers who have already given deposits have either asked for deposits back or they have wanted to push the date out substantially to later in the year.

So, what do you do from here? What do I do from here?>

We know for a fact that the deposit refund piece is obviously more of a contractual thing. But, how can you make sure that you’re positioned to win? And that is what I’m most interested in here.

STEP A: You need to make sure that your business can weather the storm. And that is completely outside of I’ll use the agency phrase of the scope of what I’m teaching you here. We focus on marketing from a reality standpoint. You need to make sure that your business can weather the storm. So whether that means you need to lay people off, cut expenses, whatever you need to do, you got to get creative. A lot of businesses have gotten creative now offering virtual options—from virtual classes to virtual tutoring. I’ve seen some neat virtual karate classes and there’s been a lot of really interesting things you can see online.

STEP B:  After you know that you can weather the storm, obviously, I’ll do a 10-second aside of all of the stuff with the SBA and these various loans, and you really want to make sure that you’re looking into all that stuff. There’s a lot of really great grants and great programs for paying basically your payroll for a couple of months that you can borrow for about two and a half—that’s 2.5 times your monthly payroll. And, if you continue to maintain those people and don’t lay them off, that actually goes from a loan to a grant. So there’s a lot of really, really interesting programs. So you want to make sure you’re looking at those.

>What are you then going to do with all the people that are asking to pause, withdrawing, pushing dates out, or even potentially canceling? What I want you to do is to communicate with them every single week more than you ever have before. I want you to communicate more than you ever have before. Yes, I repeated that twice. Because even if I say it, you’re still going to challenge it a little bit, you’re still going to question it and say, “Well, isn’t that bothering them”? Not at all. Because I can tell you that we’re advising every one of our clients and am advising everyone on this podcast. And I’m going to continue preaching till the cows come home, that you need to be doubling down in your marketing.

So the businesses that are going to heed that advice and double down and continue investing in marketing, if somebody paused or somebody canceled, and let’s say they had a construction job booked, and they’re just like, “Well, that was just not the right time”. That money has not just magically disappeared overnight, the money’s moved—it has moved around a little bit. But it hasn’t fully disappeared. And there’s obviously a lot of different stimulus packages they’re going to be kicking in, so there’s still money there. But what I need you to do is, I want you to put a program in place so that you are literally communicating with them via email, text message, or voice broadcast every single week. EVERY SINGLE WEEK and that should be positive messages, uplifting messages.

Let’s go back with the contractor example. It’s not sending a message every week that says, “Hey, are you going to end up reading and signing the job with us”, but rather, maybe a weekly message of some good news. Or perhaps,  a weekly message that shows a recently completed job. Maybe you’re sending a message talking about the 25 packages of hand sanitizer that you donated to the local hospital. You’re just continuing to communicate each and every week.

And the reason I need you to keep two feet on the gas versus lead up is that your competitors are going to be getting desperate, they’re going to be lowering prices, they’re going to be vying to grab that customer and lure them over. I need you to make sure that you are staying on top of mind with them. Hundreds of industries continue to rattle them off. And you can try and tell them why now is a great time to still get their house remodeled, etc, etc.

But if they’re operating out of a state of fear, versus anything else, it’s going to be close to impossible to turn them unless you have the rights. The right wording and there’s a whole theory behind all of this and the psychology of words. But rather than trying to teach you that I’m simply advising you to communicate every single week, email, text, voicemail, you can use a tool like a slide dial calm to do ringless voicemail, or easy texting calm to do text message marketing in a tool like eye contact or HubSpot to do email marketing. So your biggest action with anyone that has asked to pause, cancel, or push dates out, is to communicate more than you ever have before.

Get out there, make a change, and take some action.