Do you know the difference between responding versus reacting? I’ve been in business for many decades and have weathered the economic downturn of the 1990s, the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, and the 2008 recession. But at first, I did all the wrong things. I reacted instead of responding. Learn from my mistakes!

The most important thing you need to do now is to reassure your team and clients. It’s your job as a leader not to add to the panic. Clients and employees are feeling very nervous right now and that means it’s time to be confident and calm. Do not say things to your clients like “Please don’t cancel, our employees need you.” That’s speaking from a position of fear and panic and you’re going to scare clients into cancelling.

You should reframe this crisis and use a reassuring voice. Tell clients about the emergency coronavirus training sessions you’ve had to make sure all your cleaning employees are properly trained. Tell clients about the new policies that you’ve implemented to make sure their homes are safe. Tell your clients that you know they need you now more than ever before and that you are there for them. You know how important it is to get their house cleaned and that no employee is allowed to come to work when they are sick. Let clients know about adjustments you’ve made to allow extra time during cleaning to disinfect things that you wouldn’t normally disinfect on routine cleanings.

Give your clients the peace of mind they need by telling them all the areas you will wipe down in their house, like: TV remote controls, light switches, toilet flush handles, doorknobs, cabinet handles, microwave handles and buttons, sink faucets, and more. For extra peace of mind, give your clients instructions on how best to clean their own cell phones — Apple says it’s safe to wipe down phone screens with a Clorox Disinfectant Wipe or 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe.

These things are all very reassuring. Let your clients know that you’ve got it under control and are working hard to keep them safe at home. If they have to cancel due to sickness, waive any cancellation fees. Your job as the leader is to reassure and not be an alarmist.

Need more tips NOW on surviving this crisis? Join the 10-day Coronavirus Response Challenge. I’ve got advice on what to do, how to respond, how to deal with media, and how to reassure customers and employees during the COVID19 Crisis.