Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ll have heard about COVID-19 or the Corona Virus. It’s now starting to have an impact on our industry in many ways.
So Unconventional Wedding have teamed up with some of our resident experts to bring you this practical guide of what you should be thinking about. You don’t need to be an unconventional wedding supplier to read or access this blog so feel free to share it with your industry colleagues.
We’d like to give a HUGE thanks out to Heather from Stanford Gould, Helen from Harrier and Cheryl from Peak HR who have all given up valuable time to help us pull this together while their phones have been ringing off the hook!
This advice blog is as at 13th March 2020 (the published date). COVID-19 is an ever-changing situation so if you need up to date advice, we recommend that you jump onto the social media feeds of our resident experts to see what is happening. We’ll keep the frequently asked questions bit at the bottom as up to date as we can!
COVID 19 for the wedding industry - Areas to think about
Terms and conditions - Postponements and cancellations
All being well, you’ll already have clear Terms & Conditions (T&C’s) in place for all your customers so the minimum you’ll need to is to refresh your memory. If you don’t have Terms & Conditions in place, there are some clear ‘watch outs’ below for your existing customers
- Understand your cancellation policy – what happens if you or your customer cancels? You shouldn’t need to amend anything in your existing Terms and Conditions
- Understand your policy for postponements / moving of wedding dates – is that clear in your Terms and Conditions?
- Be as consistent as possible – word gets around and you don’t want to get caught out
- If you don’t have T&C’s or a cancellation policy … GET SOME. There’s simply no excuse in the current climate of risk to be without some. You can get template T&C’s for future customers from Stanford Gould online by clicking here.
- Don’t create a new COVID 19 policy as you’ll have already entered into a contract with the client
- Do NOT adopt new polices or special cancellation or refund arrangements due to COVID 19
- Do not offer refunds or compromises if this might lead you to lose the opportunity to be paid in full under a couple’s wedding insurance – so ask if they have any BEFORE deciding what alternative options you may offer, if any
- Don’t start creating new policies for existing clients
- Get T&C’s including a suitable cancellation policy in place for future clients. If you are signing up new clients for 2021 now – make sure you have them in place
Managing business risk
- Understand your contingency plans if you aren’t available to work in your business? This can include due to self-isolation or needing to take parental leave if the schools close
- Do you have a replacement or someone you can call upon to step in? Identify people now
- Ideally you want to start creating basic plans for different scenarios, so you are prepared. Each type of supplier is going to need plans specific to their industry
- If your team is out of action (partially or in full) be clear on what your plan is to get additional resource
- Do you have a place where you can ask for help? Facebook groups, like the UW supplier group, can be great for reaching out for available resource. Specific emergency cover groups also exist on social media by type or area
- Put in place remote working practices, where possible
- Start thinking about cash flow. What happens if your bookings push out to later in the year?
- Start thinking about your supply chain, where applicable. What is your back up plan if goods aren’t despatched from your usual supplier? Do you need to prioritise stock for specific customers to be able to fulfil orders?
- Some of you may already have in place insurance policies for business interruption or health. Speak to your insurance advisor to get ‘proper’ advice on these
- Bury your head in the sand on this one. Preparation is key to being able to manage what happens in the next few weeks and months
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help … now is the time to come together not work against each other
- If you are a ‘one person’ business who has to self-isolate, you may face the situation where you have to bring in someone else to supply the goods/services and compensate them for it
- You may face a situation where customers look to cancel or postpone forthcoming wedding bookings. This ‘may’ involve the repayment of monies paid to you to date.
- Additional sick pay for self-isolation for salaried employees
Health & Safety
- Update your risk assessments to include COVID-19 and your plans
- Liaise with contractors on their risk assessments and processes
- Identify if any contractors, staff or suppliers have recently travelled to any of the hot spots and agree next steps. This can also include clients if you are seeing them in advance of their wedding day. Especially take steps to protect yourself if you visit clients at their home. You may need to set out guidelines in advance for things like hair & beauty trials.
- Speak to clients about how to manage guests. You want people with symptoms or who are potentially vulnerable to stay away – but need to arrange this sympathetically.
- Review any food handling points. You may choose to restrict access to food preparation areas. For example, consider having buffets served so only one person is handling the utensils
- Make sure suitable handwashing facilities are in place and insist on regular hand washing.
- Ensure handwashing facilities are identifiable for all. Hand sanitiser should be made available if there is no handwashing on site. Have single use paper towels and put up the handwashing poster (see button below)
- Brief employees on correct handwashing procedure – grab your copy on the button below
- Consider the cleaning regime for venues including door handles, taps etc
- Consider what activities are taking place at the wedding. Can they be substituted for others that may not involve touching each other/equipment?
- Do you need additional equipment such as disposable gloves etc
- Brief staff on keeping their equipment clean, including computers and phones
- Consider vulnerable employees – do they need to be kept away from members of the public?
Communicating with your clients
You MAY want to consider communicating to your clients (via email, social media) about what you are currently doing about COVID-19. This is going to be different for each wedding supplier depending about what you do. The aim is reassurance! A lot of couples are worrying about their wedding day – let them know you have everything under control.
This is NOT a definitive list – just thoughts about what you might want to include – so please adapt to your own business accordingly.
- Reiterate your policy for postponing or cancelling weddings (as per your contract with them)
- Explain what will happen if you cannot attend the wedding date due to self-isolation e.g. my policy states, I will look to find an equivalent replacement …
- Include what happens next if your couple decide to postpone or cancel their wedding day
- Say how you will help them e.g. I’ll happily move your booking to another date if we are free at no additional cost
- State what happens if you are not available on their revised wedding date e.g. deposits
- You may need to cover what happens if guests are showing symptoms or have recently returned from a hot spot. What is your policy on this?
- Explain any measures you have put in place to protect your team and your client
- Think about ways you can do things differently. I saw a great example from one of our featured tribe members who are now offering live streaming for guests unable to attend.
Need more help?
Pop over to our resident expert’s web pages to see how they can help you.
Harrier – Helen McCabe from www.harrieruk.com . They have risk assessment template packages available for small businesses and 25% off all online safety training (code UWF2020). Dive onto the website to find out more.
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