What you’ll learn in this article about reopening a business after coronavirus closure:
- How to prepare your facility to reopen after COVID-19
- How to educate your staff on procedure and plan changes after coronavirus closure
- How to effectively communicate with parents about reopening after coronavirus
- Checklist for reopening a business after coronavirus closure
You have always been a dreamer. You started this journey of opening or managing a gymnastics gym, dance studio or swim school with a dream to empower your students to grow as athletes, artists and individuals.
As you move forward, it’s time to be a planner. When you build a plan, you tackle it on three levels: vision, strategy and action. And when you think about all of the things you could do – mostly the action items – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Starting with your vision in mind will help you pick the right plan of attack to get it done. Keep your focus only on the things that are going to get you to the finish line.
- Communicate your vision to your staff and parents.
When it reopens, your business will have a mix of in-person and online learning clients. You may not like it, but it is inevitable.
- Share your strategy with people you trust to help you get it done.
What are your steps to get to the finish line? How are you retaining students, recovering lost time or revenue? What about growing the business? What are your new opportunities to grow your brand and bring students back to in-person classes?
- Take advantage of the tools and resources you have to get you to the finish line.
You have had a lot on your plate and too many hard decisions to make but one thing you have not been during this response is alone. The partners and community around you have stepped up and provided information, news, tools and resources to help you succeed, use them and keep the dream alive.
To get you started on your plan, we’ve created a complete guide to reopening a business after coronavirus closure.
How to prepare your facility to reopen after COVID-19
After you’ve made the tough decision on when to open your doors for business, it’s time to make a plan for how to do it safely. It’s safe to say that business-as-usual, will be a little unusual as you start the transition. As you navigate through, there are solutions to our new set of challenges that resilient youth activity centers will put in place.
4 things to consider when preparing a business to reopen after closure:
Virtual viewing rooms
Early in 2020, Jackrabbit announced an exclusive partnership with gymnastics live streaming platform, SpotTV. With this new partnership, we hoped to enable programs to connect with their parents, train their coaches, and increase security in new ways. Little did we know that virtual viewing rooms and video management programs would be a necessity for gymnastics gyms, dance studios, and swim schools alike in just a few short months.
One of the most important things to consider when it comes to the health and safety in your building is the number of people that will be trafficking lobbies, bleachers and viewing rooms and the physical distance between them. With an in-house camera viewing system in place, you can increase viewability for parents without hosting them in your physical space.
Get started with a SpotTV Quick Call and take advantage of exclusive offers and savings for Jackrabbit clients.
Ideally, you and your parents want a one-stop-shop for communication which is why along with the ability to share resources like virtual class links and downloads, the SpotTV camera system is available directly inside the Jackrabbit Parent Portal.
Continue live-streaming classes
One of the positive things to come from the COVID-19 response was the realization that creating content for your students and families online is easier (alright, maybe it’s more like…possible) than you thought it would be in early March.
Gyms, dance studios, and even swim schools jumped on popular platforms like Zoom, YouTube, Google Classroom, Instagram, and Facebook to live-stream classes, training videos, and supplemental instruction for their students and teachers. While these started as a temporary means of keeping your students and prospects connected with your program, they very well could become standard practice as things get back to normal.
With your buildings back open, you can take your online learning to the next level, allowing coaches to use the equipment and space within your gyms, studios, and schools.
When you initially transitioned to a virtual classroom you did a lot of research on the online tools your team and students needed to be successful. You can now streamline your processes and bring them in-house, raising the bar of quality and control you have on the instruction offered and how it is shared digitally. Check out four more reasons to keep teaching online.
If you decided not to launch virtual learning during the initial closures, you should consider embracing some version of live streaming in the coming months as you create a hybrid version of your spring, summer, and fall schedules.
Instill a sense of community with your students and families by asking them to upload videos of their at-home training. With their permission, these videos can be used to create marketing videos and highlights that may inspire students who otherwise would have withdrawn or even generate new enrollments looking for virtual options.
Check in and out points
Not that you need more to consider, but the reality of reopening after a coronavirus closure is that without safety measures in place, there will be no kids in your buildings to teach. Keeping students, families, and staff safe and healthy outweighs all things gymnastics, cheer, dance, and swim.
In order to raise the health and safety standards in your facility, you’ll need to empower your staff, students, and families with a new set of guidelines for keeping everyone safe.
- Improved attendance and check in-out processes
When was the last time you and your team made sure you were utilizing the attendance and sign in-out features within Jackrabbit? Unclear procedures or half-completed sign-in and sign-out sheets in place will become problematic when it comes time to actually use the information for reporting and review purposes.
Make sure you are using a sign-in and out process for students and staff that is well organized and offers space for the parents and instructors to initial and keep good records. [——-> Check out the help article]
- Be prepared to overstaff and overstep
Staying safe is going to require additional staff with fewer students. While that might seem counterproductive to generating revenue and profit, the truth of our new normal is that maintaining your reputation as a business the community can trust means more now than it ever has. That may mean that breaking even is the definition of success.
Empower your teams to be flexible in their instruction but strict in their enforcement of safety guidelines. Jump to more details on safety enforcement sub-committees now!
- Review regularly
It will no longer simply be a good idea to double-check all of your sign in-out sheets, opening and closing checklists or other record-keeping and reports. Give your staff checkpoints throughout the day to inspect new processes and be extra vigilant in correcting any errors as soon as you catch them.
- Start using Jackrabbit features you skipped
Features like attendance and time clock in the Staff Portal will allow your instructors and administrators to manage their classes and schedule in a secure and mobile-friendly environment. Keeping attendance and the staff time clock in one place will empower your team to be more efficient, accurate, and secure. With the attendance feature, coaches, teachers, and instructors can:
- Take attendance (mark students as either Present or Absent)
- Track students who are late, left early, or are only observing the class
- View students’ attendance history
- Mark absences eligible for makeup (when tracking absences in your database)
- Schedule future absences
- Enter notes for students that are saved to their Student record
- View important student information such as medical information, new or trial student status, birthdays, and more.
Opening, mid-day and closing checklists for cleanliness and safety
If ratio management and building security measures are at an all-time high, you know the opening, closing, and cleaning checklists will need a complete overhaul. While the youth activities industry has always been a champion for children’s illness prevention, we’re going to need to take it even more seriously when we consider how this virus spreads and affects the wider community.
Consider your new illness prevention plan the same way you approach new skills with your students – opportunities to learn, inspect, and enforce good practices.
- Promote healthy hygiene practices. Create a curriculum for washing hands, covering coughs, and sneezes. Enforce your wellness policies and encourage students, parents, and staff to stay home if they are not feeling well.
- Decide your policy on face coverings with your staff. Face coverings and face masks will be more difficult to teach in but are essential at times when distancing is not as possible as it once was. Think: spotting and position corrections. When you have to be hands-on with younger students, six feet becomes impossible.
- Have above-adequate supplies of soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol and tissues
- Intensify cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation across the building and equipment. Build in-class breaks and buffers that allow for deep cleaning between students and on frequently touched surfaces including mats, bars, door handles, sinks, and drinking fountains.
- Avoid the use of equipment or props that are not easily cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected multiple times throughout the day.
- Ensure that staff and instructors are trained on the correct application of disinfectants and keep those products out of reach of students.
Many youth activity centers are relying on the CDC’s Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission.
This tool provides guidance on possible mitigation strategies for communities dealing with transmission at three different levels: (1) None/Minimal; (2) Moderate; and (3) Substantial. These strategies help slow the transmission of COVID-19 in communities and will help keep your program safe as you reopen after COVID-19.
How to educate staff of procedure and plan changes after coronavirus closure
Before you can begin to educate your staff on procedural and policy changes, you must decide which employees you can invite back to work once your facility is allowed to reopen.
Will your programs be running at full capacity? Or will fewer instructors be needed to teach a limited number of students? Regardless of the demand for dance, swim, or gymnastics classes at your facility, it’s important to have a plan in place when bringing teachers and staff back to mitigate the risk of potential discrimination claims.
5 things to consider when reopening a business after coronavirus closure
Now that you’ve got your team assembled, it’s time to educate teachers, coaches, and administrative staff on what the landscape of your facility will look like moving forward. Here are five things to consider when returning to business as usual:
Dealing with ratio management in private lessons and small group classes
It should be no surprise to you that class sizes will need to change and the total number of people in your facility will need to be taken into account upon reopening. Depending on the number of people allowed in certain businesses as established by local officials, you’ll need to determine what you want the staff to student to parent ratio to be.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Will a small group ballet class require two teachers? One instructor may not be able to demonstrate combinations while giving verbal corrections to dancers from six feet away. In this case, maybe it makes sense to reduce the number of students in the class by one to allow an additional teacher in the room to ensure proper technique and safety are being followed.
- Will gymnastics lessons need to be extended to allow time to sanitize equipment while rotating between events?
- While the virus can not be transmitted in chlorinated pools, will additional staff members be needed in the facility to clean common areas such as bathrooms and locker rooms?
Incorporating virtual classes into your schedule for the foreseeable future
While they faced their own set of challenges, dance studios found it easier to pivot their classes to an online platform than others in the youth activity industry. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, many dance studio owners discovered that online dance classes helped them tap into a new population of students – students they wouldn’t have been able to convert to paying customers without their virtual studio.
So what happens to those virtual classes now that in-person classes are allowed to resume? Should you really turn away students who are yearning to learn from your instructors?
The short answer is no. The long answer is heck no.
Now that teachers and coaches are able to re-enter your facility, you should absolutely continue to teach, if not begin to teach, virtual classes from your facility.
Think about it: Once you’re able to resume in-person lessons at your facility, do you think all of your students and parents will feel comfortable in a large group of people? There will be a percentage of your customer base who will continue to practice social distancing and will not return to in-person classes as soon as you reopen.
Online classes and virtual learning opportunities provide these students with a way to engage with your facility and help provide you with tuition revenue. Talk about a win-win!
Enforcing new facility safety procedures
Whether it’s recitals, competitions or swim meets that need to be altered due to new safety regulations, or everyday activity at your facility- you shouldn’t be expected to create and enforce everything yourself. That’s what committees are for!
By creating a task force composed of administrative staff, instructors, and parents (if you have a reliable PTA) to enforce new safety procedures, you’re effectively taking the burden off your shoulders to police the enforcement of your safety plan within your facility and at events.
Consider creating sub-committees to help enforce safety procedures at special events, around facility common areas, and in classes.
Educating teachers and staff who may hold a different role after your facility reopens
Regardless of how you like your eggs, your post-COVID staff may end up being scrambled. Meaning that after reopening, staff members and instructors may hold new roles within your organization.
As if working from home while homeschooling children, disinfecting everything 24/7, eating healthy, getting enough sunshine, and maintaining sanity weren’t difficult enough – now you’re expected to get everyone ‘up to speed’ on their new roles quickly and efficiently? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Don’t worry. We got you.
In addition to help resources, Jackrabbit offers an online training system for directors and staff to use at their convenience. This on-demand education platform allows owners to focus on moving forward into the post-COVID unknown while staff members begin working through parts of the software they might not have used before the closure.
Making Jackrabbit work for your business moving forward
The sooner you get faculty and staff back in the fold, the sooner you can start making Jackrabbit work for you!
In case you missed it, Jackrabbit released a whole host of enhancements while our clients were forced to close their physical doors. These fast-tracked enhancements were designed to help clients in times of closure and normal operation.
Adding resources to family, student, class, and staff records was a part of the original 2020 enhancement plan released at the beginning of the year as the Jackrabbit 20/20 Vision. However, to meet the new needs of our clients, the Jackrabbit product team adjusted the enhancement to allow admin staff to share class resources to the Parent Portal to aid in this new virtual reality of online instruction.
While the immediate draw to this enhancement had a different meaning than originally intended, it will still hold great value post-COVID.
Parent Portal updates
In addition to integrating with SpotTV, the Jackrabbit team added the ability for students to connect with their teachers from home via virtual classes. Instead of adding another layer to the mix during a time that was already hazy, parents could easily access instruction for their children on the same platform they are already accustomed to.
With more Parent Portal updates around the corner, parents will also be able to schedule absences and makeups through the portal. During a time where your staffing looks different, this will help eliminate extra phone calls and emails that lead to your staff having to then input the information into Jackrabbit.
Staff Portal updates
To help teachers better manage classes, whether offsite or onsite, resources and virtual class links added from the admin side of Jackrabbit are visible in the Staff Portal as well. Just like the Parent Portal, it is important that instructors have an all-in-one tool to effectively help them with their tasks.
Account management updates
Updating family accounts is something that may take up a lot of man-hours. And during a time where you need to focus on your program and the new normal in your response to COVID, you don’t have the extra hours to spend.
With the new ability to update multiple accounts at once, you can keep parents up-to-date on what they owe and show how many credits they had were applied to existing fees. And being released soon is the ability to mass update class enrollment for a family or student when they need to drop more than one class at a time.
How to effectively communicate with parents about reopening after coronavirus closure
With the excitement building as businesses start to reopen, the next step is to communicate your reopening plan to parents. Everyone is anxious to get back to class, especially parents so they may have quite a few questions. After all, they are ready for a sense of normal for their kids, and themselves!
What do parents need to know about your plan to reopen?
Be transparent and equip your parents with the information you know. Even if you don’t have it all figured out just yet, share your progress and let them know what is still to come. The more open and honest you are with them, the fewer questions they will have, and the stronger that trust will be.
Topics you want to cover when reaching out to parents about your reopening plan after the coronavirus pandemic include:
- Updated legal policies
- New makeup class options
- Improved cleaning procedures
- Adjusted class sizes
- How to enter and exit the building to accommodate social distancing
- Who to contact with account concerns
At the end of the day, parents are going to remember the value you brought to their family during this challenging time. Continue to build that bond and let them know how you plan to stay an active part of the local community.
How to use Jackrabbit Class to communicate with parents on reopening
Having a cloud-based class management solution during COVID-19 proved to be extremely important. But, the importance doesn’t stop with the light at the end of the tunnel to reopening your center, studio, pool, or gym.
Through the challenge that the coronavirus brought to youth activity centers, Jackrabbit Class continued to innovate and even fast-tracked planned and unplanned features to meet the new needs of our customers.
With a combination of new features and existing ones, you can effectively reach out to parents to let them know the time to reopen has come!
- Email – with the ability to email all of your families easily in Jackrabbit, it is easy to send emails now and schedule some for the future.
- Email templates – each Jackrabbit account was loaded with a brand new template pack to help bring excitement to your reopening communication.
- Push notifications – using our mobile app partner, Mobile Inventor, push notifications are a great way to get important information out quickly.
- Text messages – use Jackrabbit’s texting partners to let parents know important updates are headed their way.
- Parent Portal – the portal is almost like a hub of all things parents need to know when it comes to their child taking classes at your youth activity center.
No one knows your set of parents better than you. Use your website and a combination of the features above to help get the word out in the way that makes the most sense for your families!
New powerful features in the Jackrabbit Class Parent Portal
The Jackrabbit Class Parent Portal is truly a one-stop-shop for parents to interact with your youth activity center. And during a time where social distancing is going to continue to be a thing, it is more valuable than ever!
While some aspects of the Parent Portal have always been there, their needs may be more unique than they were before.
- Resources – share pre-recorded classes, recital music, swim workout plans, and much more by adding files to classes.
- Virtual classes – keep your classes at full size by continuing virtual classes for a few more weeks. Or use the virtual classes as a supplement to your existing program.
- Scheduling absences and makeups – to eliminate extra phone calls and emails, implement the new (soon-to-be-released) option to allow parents to schedule absences and makeups through the portal themselves.
- Contactless payment – parents can make payments through the portal to eliminate extra bodies in the building and the handoff of money or checks.
- Online enrollment – as you get ready for the next session, there may still be restrictions in place. Open enrollment to the parent portal to remove in-person interaction.
- Virtual viewing room – with the latest integration and partnership with Spot TV, you can focus on social distancing by allowing parents to live stream their child’s class from outside of your facility.
At a time where the old normal seems so far away, the Parent Portal is a great tool to have your families feeling like they are more connected than ever!
How to market to new students and rebuild your relationship with withdrawals
There’s no better time to freshen up your image than during the process of reopening after coronavirus. It’s a great opportunity to not only market to new students but also remarket to the families that had to withdraw.
The Jackrabbit Class lead file is a great place to store leads that are interested in your program but have never joined or those that were once a part of your program but dropped for a variety of reasons. With the ability to search leads and mass email them, you can keep those students and families connected with you until they are ready to enroll!
For active families, it’s almost like you are re-welcoming them back to the facility. Social media is a great way to connect not only with current students but also with new and previous students. Try going live on Facebook or Instagram and show families that you are safe, healthy, positive, and ready to push forward!
Additional resources to ensure business and financial health
Given this uncharted territory you and your teams are navigating, Jackrabbit and our partners are committed to helping you keep your business healthy and financially healthy. Below are additional resources and contacts you can reach out to for more information on your next steps to reopening a business after coronavirus closures.
During this crisis response, Jackrabbit partners have stepped up with webinars, downloads, resource centers, and more. These tools have enabled businesses in the youth activity and arts spaces to respond and stay in front of their students.
Casey Cumming, Payment Processing Consultant
C&H Financial Services, Inc.
Toll Free: 855 602 2437 ext 1
Shane McMullen, Merchant Account Specialist
SafeSave Payment Services
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Toll Free: 800 220 8611
SBA Disaster Loan Assistance Program – Built to help provide up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses to small businesses facing economic hardship that it would not have faced had the disaster not occurred. Learn more about this program for small businesses and nonprofits in this article.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also dedicated an entire guide to Coronavirus Emergency Loans with a checklist specific to small businesses and nonprofits. The guide addresses common questions about how much is available, what you can borrow, and how lenders are deciding on eligibility.
The Paycheck Protection Act fact sheet shared by the U.S. Treasury will continue to be updated as the agency has more info and develops the program further.
Find realtime Coronavirus information on this easy to read and share infographic.
Checklist: Reopening a business after coronavirus closure