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Re-opening: how to communicate with your brides

Award-winning bridal boutique owner Shannon Martin of Dotty Bridal offers advice on how to communicate with your brides regarding the re-opening of your store in her new monthly series.

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The hottest topic on the minds of bridal boutique owners right now is re-opening. Tackling when to re-open, how to manage appointments, health & safety, staff along with hundreds of other questions are circling the minds of owners. Once you have answered all these questions, you then have to decide how to tell your customers about these ‘exciting’ updates.

Here’s how we told our audience the news.

After Boris Johnson’s announcement, we decided it was time to communicate with our brides about the re-opening of the boutique.

We started by communicating our new COVID-19 safety measures to our social media followers (on Monday) through branded posts. It’s important to get your message across while staying on brand. You don’t have to use the government documents or colours when translating the guidelines for your boutique. This messaging is key, as you want to make the bride feel comfortable with the measures you’re putting in place while keeping your brand aesthetic.

Throughout lockdown brides have been invited to continue booking appointments with us as I felt this was important for the continued success of Dotty. We use Bridal Live and have the online booking system integrated into our website. Once the government announced the relaxation of lockdown, we started receiving daily messages on Instagram asking us when we were reopening. At this point, I must admit I did feel the need to give the people some form of an answer at least.

On Tuesday morning, I announced our hopeful re-opening date. I have always been an open book, what you see is what you get, there are no secrets and no frills! And that is the same for my business, so it only felt right to be completely transparent with our plans. During this incredibly uncertain time, we know full well that the date we decided on may have to completely change and we are fine with that but for our own sanity and for our brides we wanted to get that date out there.

Once we announced the opening date and our safety measures we were inundated with messages from brides who had already booked in with us or were thinking of booking asking lots of different things from, ’can I really only bring one guest?’ to ’do I have to bring my own mask and gloves?’ It was at this point when I decided it would be a good idea for Beth (co-owner) and I to do a live Q&A session answering everyone’s questions. Understandably Brides will be nervous (probably not nearly as nervous as we will be on our first day), but we are the experts, so I feel it is our place to make them feel at ease. The new normal, isn’t about being rigid and stuffy. You need to be strict with your policies but in a professional, friendly, and welcoming manner.

We decided to run our Instagram Live at 8pm. It’s good to look at your insights to see when your page receives peak engagement. As we approached the live session, I started to get nervous. I felt like I was throwing myself into the lion’s den. As soon as we started, I realised it was quite the opposite. The chat was incredibly positive and inspiring. Our brides loved it. I’m so glad we did this as it is now a reference point for any of our brides who are worried or unsure of what to expect coming for an appointment at Dotty.

I feel the key to announcing your re-opening plans is to be completely transparent and honest with your customers. Talk to them directly, Instagram and Facebook make this so easy now. They want and need to see the face behind the brand. You must build their trust and create relationships with them before they even enter your boutique. That’s one thing that has been great during lockdown, business owners (mainly because the rest of the staff are furloughed) have been able to interact directly with customers, which has been so refreshing. We (as owners) have been able to take things back to basics and reflect on what made our business a success to begin with. And the answer to that is you (the owner).

Here’s a road map of how we communicated our reopening and our COVID-19 safety measures

1. Email sent out to all our booked brides and to all our confirmed 2020 brides. This email was sent out 3 days prior to the social media announcement (This is important as you want your current customers to feel special and can ask questions before potential customers start to take up your time).
2. We announced our COVID-19 safety measures, making them visual and appealing to the eye rather than just a written list that no one wants to read. Take a look at our Instagram highlights to check these out.
3. I then filmed an IGTV video discussing the safety measures and explained how these measures will work when brides come to the boutique. I also used this video to announce our provisional re-opening date. The video is positive and upbeat as I want to ensure that brides don’t ever feel like it is a chore coming to the boutique and that it is still going to be a super exciting, fun experience
4. On the same evening Beth and I conducted a live Q&A on Instagram. We announced the this on our social platforms during the day and encourage questions from our followers.

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