Right now the risk of Covid-19 is the community’s greatest concern and families are being faced with decisions on how much exposure they are willing to allow their children to have. Reports suggest that healthy children aren’t as susceptible to the virus as the elderly (but can still be carriers), the unwell and immune-compromised people but of course parents will be cautious in taking risks, especially with potential school closures.
With the April school holidays approaching many of you (kids activity business owners) will be relying on the income generated from school holiday classes to keep the cash flow in your business, pay your team, manage other expenses and support your own family.
So what can you do?
Check Your Insurance
Some policies may include what’s is called business interruption insurance and this can cover notifiable diseases. Every policy is different and you will need to check the wording on your particular policy.
Communicate with your parents via your preferred method of communication i.e email, newsletter, text message that you are aware of the situation and the concerns they and that you are monitoring the situation closely and following government guidelines.
Swimming lessons – There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Review Your Cleaning & Hygiene Processes
You may like to review your cleaning process and increase the level of surface cleaning to a deep clean (play-centres especially), or increase the hand sanitisation of families and children coming to the classes.
Having hand sanitiser readily available and visual at your front desk and entrances to activity rooms.
Have children wash their hands at the start and end of classes. Use soap and water if available and sing the song “Happy Birthday twice”. Or an anti-bacterial hand sanitizer (check with parents first in case of allergies).
In situations where there is a potential perceived risk of cross infection i.e with babies who might be mouthing objects or swimming classes you may like to consider taking temperatures of babies/toddlers and parents before the classes and explain your cleaning procedures to reassure parents.
Although a person can be carrying the virus without a temperature and children have been shown to be less susceptible it does reassure parents that you are taking this seriously and making precautions.
Protect Yourself and Your Staff
Have signage at your business such as at the front desk or on a laminated printed poster if your classes are outdoors advising families that if they are showing any of the signs of Covid-19 or have been in contact with anyone showing the signs or have been in contact with anyone who has returned from Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Mainland China that they are not permitted to attend.
This not only protects your families but also your staff whom you also have a duty of care to protect.
Ask staff/team to stay home if they are unwell. Consider work from home options and consider your workplace health & safety policy as it may not include working from home and will need amending.
Loren Downing from Sync or Swim said she has been inundated with questions by business owners unsure how to manage staff, in particular employees. Loren suggests contacting Fair Work on 13 13 94 if you have questions and provides more specific links and details are in her blog regarding Fair Work here.
For more government related advice and information on the precautions you should be taking from a legal point of view, visit www.ablawyers.com.au.
Start to Investigate Online Video Streaming Options
Consider if you could run your classes online and have your families/children view the class through live video? There are online platforms that you can use to run your classes such as Zoom. This would work for music groups, sports group, language classes, dance classes etc.
It will take some time to prepare the resources, music, equipment lists in advance but is a good investment for your business to use now and potentially in the future.
Remember to check music license arrangements and if your insurance covers live streamling classes. There may be some requirements such as having families sign a disclaimer in case of injury in the home environment.
Check out our video with an activity provider doing online learning right now in China here.
Review your Terms & Conditions
Now is the time to review the instances of when you would give a refund. It is a million-dollar question at the moment as there is no precedent for something like this but it is wise to have a plan B. maybe if a week needs to be cancelled, the following week goes for longer to make up that time? Maybe you can offer a school holiday long day program for parents who have children off school but they still need to work? Maybe you offer credit instead of a refund? Or maybe you refund and keep the peace. Each business and situation will be so individual and ideally, there will need to be a bit of give and take from both sides. Se are running a Live Q&A with a lawyer to discuss terms and conditons in the industry. Details here.
Review your severe weather clauses, what do you do in those situations? Do you have a force Majeure clause including but not restricted to severe weather warnings, terrorism, or government-imposed restricted movement or people or school closures.
Take a Business Sabbatical
Luckily working with children has probably made you creative, adaptable and flexible. These will all be valuable skills to have in coming months. If Australia does close schools and classes for a period of time, you could use this opportunity to work on some other parts of the business, which lets face it we never have time to do!
- Can you create a new class/activity or an online course for parents on what you teach?
- Can you offer gift vouchers that can be purchased now and used later?
- Look at your income streams. Maybe you also sell merchandise, your music, sporting equipment. Focus on promoting that.
- Ever thought about writing a children’s book? Now is your chance!
- Always wanted to create more promotional materials for social media? Canva is great for this and you can set up templates with your branding and duplicate them. We even have a recording for purchase from a Canva for Activity Providers Masterclass which we did recently. More details here.
- Learn a new skill. Not utilising Instagram as well as you should be? Now is your chance to spend some time learning about it.
- Are you eligible for offering government funded rebates? Find out here.
It’s important to note that this will pass. Try to stay positive, optimistic and just rely on reputable sources for your information rather than sensationalized TV. Things will return to normal eventually and who knows maybe this is a chance for you to develop your online offering of services.
Looking for more support? Join our private facebook group for business owners in the kids activity & party industry.
Elise is the founder & consultant for award winning brands What’s On 4 Kids AU & What’s On 4 Travel and a mum of three busy kids who love sport, art & music. She’s also a paediatric Occupational Therapist, coffee lover and an eternal & unapologetic optimist.