What To Say When: Swipe Copy for Responding to Coronavirus Scenarios

In light of the coronavirus, we know it can be tough figuring out how exactly to have conversations with your clients about rescheduling their event or why you’re moving all your meetings to Zoom. We wanted to make it easier for you by providing swipe copy for the most common scenarios facing our community.

All you need to do is copy and paste the template into your emails (or create a HoneyBook email template) to save time and sound professional. Just make sure to update any bolded fields; adjust the copy to reflect your business practices and contract clauses; and use the swipe copy for the client scenario that applies to you.

Note: Most contracts are now in force majeure land, not cancellation/rescheduling clause land. You must follow what your contract’s force majeure clause states (and seek specific advice from a lawyer if you have questions). Under force majeure circumstances, whether or not you have to refund the retainer is a grey area. Review your contract language to better understand your options. Attorney Paige Griffith of The Legal Paige wrote a post with more details (see “The tricky part about cancellations”).

Here’s what to say when…

When you want to proactively prevent cancellations

On Sunday, March 15, the CDC issued a recommendation to postpone gatherings of more than 50 people across the United States for the next 8 weeks. In light of this announcement, unfortunately we believe many creatives will likely see an increase in cancellation requests. If you feel this may be the case for you, we suggest you proactively reach out to your clients to reschedule or modify their event to meet the CDC recommendation, in order to prevent cancellations. We’ve created this email template to help you start the conversation.

Hi XX,

I know that based on recent events and news, the coronavirus is likely top of mind for you. I wanted to check in and make sure you and your loved ones are doing ok! 

I also wanted to reassure you that I’ll do whatever it takes to make your [event name] a success, whether that’s modifying it to meet your needs or rescheduling it if you’d like to postpone. Whatever you need, I’m here to help. 

Your safety and well-being, and making sure we figure out the best way to make your event memorable, are my top priorities.

Let’s schedule a call to discuss how you’re feeling and the best path forward.

Warmly,

XX

When you want to be proactive in reassuring clients 

The last thing you want to do is wait until your clients are so concerned about the situation that they reach out to you. This template helps you do proactive outreach to your clients, letting them know that you and your business are prepared for coronavirus and that you plan to fulfill your role at their event. It also opens up further dialog in case they have any questions or concerns that you can get ahead of to minimize cancellations or disputes. 

Hey XX,

I hope planning your [insert event name here] has been going smoothly! I wanted to check in and see how you were doing in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak updates. I know how stressful [event name] planning can be, and this certainly doesn’t help!

I wanted to assure you that I have every intention of fulfilling my role at your [event name] and that my business and I are prepared. I’m staying updated on the latest information from the CDC, the WHO and local and state authorities; acting responsibly by avoiding travel to outbreak hotspots; practicing social distancing by holding most meetings online instead of in person; swapping hugs for a friendly wave; and, last but not least, practicing good hand hygiene. Additionally, I’m making sure that all of my clients know what to expect from me as per contract.

I’d love to know how you’re feeling about the situation. Are there any questions or concerns about your event I can help address? Please don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Thanks,

XX

Note: If your client writes back and inquires more specifically about rescheduling or cancelling, see When clients are looking for guidance regarding canceling or rescheduling OR When your client asks to reschedule or cancel.

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When clients are looking for guidance regarding canceling or rescheduling

With the effects of coronavirus changing almost daily, some clients may be nervous with their event dates fast approaching. This template helps you respond to clients who are looking for your guidance on if they should cancel or reschedule their event. 

Hey XX,

Thanks for checking in! As of right now, your event is in a place of relatively low risk. However, I know how stressful [event name] planning can be, and this certainly doesn’t help!

I wanted to assure you that my business and I are prepared. I’m staying updated on the latest information from the CDC, the WHO and local and state authorities; acting responsibly by avoiding travel to outbreak hotspots; practicing social distancing by holding most meetings online instead of in person; swapping hugs for a friendly wave; and, last but not least, practicing good hand hygiene. Additionally, I’m making sure that all of my clients know what to expect from me as per contract.

I have every intention of fulfilling my role at your [event name]. Of course, if anything should change with my plans, you will be the first to know.

If you have any intention of changing the date of your [event name] please let me know as soon as possible so we can work on rescheduling to a date that works for everyone. If you do plan to change the [event name] date, please refer back to our contract to the cancellation and rescheduling policy for the proper steps. Please note that the retainer may be forfeited and a new contract may need to be signed in the event of cancellation or rescheduling. 

Thanks,

XX

Note: If your client writes back and inquires more specifically about rescheduling or cancelling, see When your client asks to reschedule or cancel.

When clients are looking for guidance regarding canceling or rescheduling because they are high risk or have a high risk loved one

This template is for clients who are asking about canceling or rescheduling because they are high risk or have a high risk loved one.

Hey XX,

Thanks for checking in and letting me know about your concerns! I have read the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing for high risk populations, and absolutely want to respect that.

If it is any assurance, I’m staying updated on the latest information from the CDC, the WHO and local and state authorities; acting responsibly by avoiding travel to outbreak hotspots; practicing social distancing by holding most meetings online instead of in person; swapping hugs for a friendly wave; and, last but not least, practicing good hand hygiene. Additionally, I’m making sure that all of my clients know what to expect from me as per contract.

If you feel it’s best, we can reschedule to make sure we are keeping you and your loved ones safe. Here are the next steps to do so.

Rescheduling:
[insert your rescheduling policy here]
(Example rescheduling policy language: If you reschedule in excess of 90 days of your event date, and I am able to rebook that date, then you will receive credit for everything paid so far. If this happens, we will need to sign a new contract. If your event is rescheduled in excess of 90 days and I do not rebook the date then the retainer will be forfeited, but you will receive credit for everything paid so far (and again a new contract would be needed). If you choose to reschedule, the credit will be applied to wedding coverage within 12 months after the original wedding date.)

Please feel free to let me know any questions you may have as this is not the easiest situation to navigate! Again, I’m so sorry that this [natural disaster/pandemic] is affecting your [event] in such a negative way.

Thanks,
XX

When your client asks to reschedule or cancel

In the event that a client asks about rescheduling or cancelling their event, we recommend trying to reschedule for a later date as a best practice to minimize lost revenue for your business. This template helps guide clients to reschedule. But please note, this is not provided as a substitute for legal advice. If you have any questions about this template or your contract as it relates to your specific business, please contact a licensed attorney.

Hey XX!

I’m so sorry that the [coronavirus/natural disaster] is affecting your [event] and that you’re thinking of rescheduling or cancelling altogether. As this is a terrible time for everyone, I am of course happy to work with you to figure out what the next steps will be. I encourage you to look back over our contract as that will be more detailed, but I can also give you a quick idea of what to expect moving forward. 

Rescheduling would be best, and here are the next steps to do so.

Rescheduling:

[insert your rescheduling policy here] 

(Example rescheduling policy language: If you reschedule in excess of 90 days of your event date, and I am able to rebook that date, then you will receive credit for everything paid so far. If this happens, we will need to sign a new contract. If your event is rescheduled in excess of 90 days and I do not rebook the date then the retainer will be forfeited, but you will receive credit for everything paid so far (and again a new contract would be needed). If you choose to reschedule, the credit will be applied to wedding coverage within 12 months after the original wedding date.)

However, if you wanted to cancel altogether, as per contract here are the next steps.

Cancellations:

[insert your cancellation policy here] 

(Example cancellations policy language: As per contract, if you decide to cancel within 90 days of the {event} then you will forfeit the retainer, and also be responsible for paying the remainder of the package price. I’m happy to work with you on a payment plan if need be. If you decide to cancel in excess of 90 days of the {event} then you forfeit the retainer and only need to pay the remainder of the package price, if I do not re-book your date. If your date is re-booked, you do not have to pay the remainder of the package.)

Please feel free to let me know any questions you may have as this is not the easiest situation to navigate! Again, I’m so sorry that this [natural disaster/pandemic] is affecting your [event] in such a negative way.

Best,

XX

When you want to limit in-person interactions 

A community member who works in marketing reached out to ask: How do I communicate my need to work from home and not attend in-person meetings and events in a worst case scenario? She says, “I have some clients who are really adamant about taking these [meetings] in person. Same with events they may be hosting where they want me present for social media support.” 

If you want to limit your in-person interactions in your business, here’s a template for sharing that message with your clients. 

Hey XX,

I wanted to check in and see how you were doing in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak updates.

I wanted to assure you that the safety of my team and clients is paramount to me at [insert your business name]. I’m staying updated on the latest information from the CDC, the WHO and local and state authorities; acting responsibly by avoiding travel to outbreak hotspots; practicing good hand hygiene—and last, but not least—working from home more when it makes sense. 

So what can you expect in the coming weeks?

As the coronavirus situation unfolds across the country and containment efforts in our area become more aggressive, I’m moving all in-person meetings to a video or phone call. (Please be on the lookout for updated meeting invites with that information.) Additionally, I’m limiting my attendance of large in-person events. [insert whatever else you’re changing that may affect clients and what they can expect from you] This is not only for my safety, but yours as well.

I’d love to hop on a call to discuss making alternative arrangements for [insert the in-person activities you want to move online (e.g., in-person event, social media coverage)] with you. I’m looking forward to finding a solution that works best for the health and safety of everyone.

Thanks,

XX

When you want to cancel for your own safety (but a force majeure event has not happened)

In some instances, you may want to cancel an event for your own safety, especially if you or anyone in your family is immunocompromised. While you don’t need to perform your services, it’s critical to give your client options on how you plan to mitigate the consequences and to be reasonable in these circumstances. Documentation is key, because while a lawsuit likely won’t arise right now, one may pop up in the future, and you want to be sure you can show a court evidential proof that you tried to find an alternate service provider or made sufficient reasonable efforts to mitigate the consequences. Make sure to keep communications with your clients in email (and save them) to limit risks and liabilities for your business. 

Hey XX,

After a lot of thought and consideration, I wanted to let you know that due to [insert why you’re cancelling here] (examples of cancellation reasons: risky health considerations, caring for immuno-compromised family members, etc.), I won’t be able to provide my services at your [event name]. This was a really tough decision to make, and I apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. 

My goal is to ensure you’re taken care of in my absence, so I have asked [insert name of back-up service provider] of [insert business name of back-up service provider] to step in and provide coverage for the [event name] in my place. [insert name of back-up service provider] is a trusted friend and colleague of mine and I know that [she/he] will take great care of you. Please take a look at [his/her] [insert their IG/website/etc.]. 

Also, because I know that part of the reason you booked with me was because of my [editing style/insert name of your post-event process here], I’m happy to inform you that [name of back-up provider] has allowed me to [edit] their work so that it reflects my style, and the style you were looking forward to having.

Please let me know if this would be an acceptable solution or if you have any questions or concerns. Otherwise, I can also offer a full refund of your retainer and you would not incur any remaining fees under the contract.

Thanks,

XX

When you need to reschedule due to a force majeure event

Hopefully it never comes to this, but if a force majeure event should occur (as outlined in your force majeure contract clause), the impacted party of the force majeure event needs to notify the other party. Here’s swipe copy you could use to notify your clients, letting them know what your process is to move forward. (Need help thinking through what that process would look like? Check out steps #4 and #7 in our guide for creating a business continuity plan for small business.) Make sure to show them that you’re bending and happy to work with them to reach the best solution for everyone in this stressful time. Also, be sure to read the note in this post’s intro to learn more about whether or not you can keep the deposit.

Hey XX,

I wanted to check in regarding the [insert force majeure event] and make sure you and your loved ones are ok. Under our contract, this qualifies as a force majeure event, which means I won’t be able to provide my services at your [event name] at this time

Please rest assured that I’d love to work with you to reschedule your [event name] to a later date within the next [insert time period (12 months is common)]. If you do choose to work with me again at a later date, your retainer would be transferred to your future event date and a new contract would need to be signed. 

In the event that a mutually agreed upon date cannot be reached, you may cancel and forfeit only the retainer, but not incur any remaining fees under the contract.

As this is a terrible time for everyone, I am of course happy to work with you to figure out the best next steps.

Thanks,

XX

When you want to send existing clients revised contracts with new protection clauses added in

One common question that’s been coming up frequently is what to do with the new force majeure clause we provided (see step #3 here). How should you include it in your existing contracts? The answer: You probably shouldn’t. It doesn’t look good to your clients to add protection clauses and send them new contracts at this time. It may look like you’re trying to get out of performing your service. 

Instead, experts recommend adding in those protection clauses to new contracts moving forward.

When your client cancels

Hi XX,

Thank you so much for speaking with me today. I am sorry we could not find a date that works for us, but I am still so excited for you! 

As we discussed, I have attached the cancellation amendment to void our previous contract. After the new contract is signed by everyone, our old agreement will be voided.

My goal is to ensure you’re taken care of in my absence, so I would recommend [insert name of back-up service provider] of [insert business name of back-up service provider]. [insert name of back-up service provider] is a trusted friend and colleague of mine and I know that [she/he] will take great care of you. Please take a look at [his/her] [insert their IG/website/etc.]

[*If you are giving your clients a refund, you could say:]

As this is a terrible time for everyone, and per our contract, I will give you a [full/partial/percentage] refund back.

[If you are not giving a refund per your cancellations and rescheduling policy, you could say:]

While I know this is a terrible time for everyone, per our contract and the cancellations and rescheduling policy, we are within [insert time block as per contract] which means that I cannot give you a refund.

[If you are not giving a refund per your force majeure policy, you could say:]

While I know this is a terrible time for everyone, per our contract and the force majeure clause, you will forfeit only the retainer, but not incur any remaining fees under the contract.

Thank you again for your time and I hope we can work together in the future!

Thanks!

XX

More Resources

Disclaimer: These templates are provided for your convenience in communicating with clients. They are not provided as a substitute for legal advice. If you have any questions about these templates or your contract as it relates to your specific business, please contact a licensed attorney.

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7 comments

  1. Very helpful! Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Very helpful! Do you have any tips on phrasing of invoice emails? I have invoices I need to send but I want to be sensitive to the climate. However, I also do need the cash so I can’t afford to give payment extensions. Any thoughts?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Thanks a lot, these are super helpful resources!

    Reply
  4. These are some amazing resources! Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  5. Thanks so much, this is so helpful!

    Reply

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