As a small business owner, you likely had to change several aspects of your operations because of COVID-19. From protecting your employees to enforcing social distancing, 2020 has been a learning curve for everyone.
As your customers return to your business, they may not know about the new policies you have implemented recently. This is why you need to start communicating with customers immediately – outlining any new expectations and guidelines. Then, take steps to enforce your policies if your customers refuse to comply.
1. Train your team members on your guidelines
Regularly meet with your staff to discuss any new policies you have added or modified. Explain what is expected of your employees and customers and what happens if shoppers refuse to comply. Make sure your team has the power to refuse service or approach a customer who won’t wear a mask or follow your capacity guidelines.
You can also use this time to discuss conversations some customers might bring up. For example, the ADA does not exempt people from wearing masks. Instead, businesses are required to provide “reasonable accommodation,” to customers. This could include curbside pick-up and online ordering.
Remember, these policies will protect you, your employees, and your customers. You are doing this for the greater good of your community.
2. Use online channels to communicate with customers
It’s always important to communicate with customers about any new changes to your business. One of the best ways to reach your current and potential customers is to leverage online mediums such as social media, your website, and email.
Once you have your guidelines in place, make sure you share them on social accounts, in your email newsletter, and on your website. This will help your customers know what is expected of them so they can be prepared when they arrive. It will also give you a place to address any customer questions or concerns.
3. Display your policies outside (and inside) your business
Along with posting your policies online, make signs that display them in your store. This can be a simple, “wear a mask,” reminder on your door, or a poster on the wall detailing your health practices.
Ideally, you will post multiple signs – both inside and outside the business. This way, if your customers miss one sign, they will see another.
4. Consider placing an employee at your store entrance
Some companies have assigned employees to the front of the store to help customers follow safety protocol. You can make sure each customer is wearing a mask and offer hand sanitizer if they need it.
5. Value the customers who comply with your rules
If customers refuse to follow your guidelines (especially after you provide multiple options for accommodation) allow them to make the decision to leave.
By standing up for what you believe in, you will grow the loyalty of your customers who appreciate your safety efforts.
No one could have planned for the mask mandates, social distancing, and sanitary guidelines of 2020. However, most customers are aware of these changes and are ready to comply with any new rules that are designed to make it a safer shopping experience for everyone. Use the steps above to get your employees and customers on the same page about your new safety policies.
Check out these resources on OpenWeStand.org for more business lessons and strategies you can use to get through these difficult times.