Many states are loosening their stay-at-home orders and this means businesses will be opening again soon. However, many small business owners are still feeling quite nervous about the prospect of reopening, and understandably so. It’s not like COVID-19 has gone away.
In order to reopen, safety must be a top priority. If you reopen, how can you ensure the safety of yourself, your employees, and your customers? That’s precisely what we will explore here today.
Reopening the economy is not without risk. It certainly won’t be business as usual. In fact, you’ll need to implement a wide range of new policies to keep your employees and customers safe. You’ll need to expect reduced business. And, you’ll have to do work to encourage customers to come back. Be prepared to spend time planning out your reopening process while complying with state ordinances.
We spoke to Danny Shields, VP, Industry Relations at Avetta, an #OpenWeStand partner, on ways to reopen your business safely during COVID-19:
Policies and procedures for keeping staff safe
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to do everything you can to keep your staff safe. Here’s how to do it:
- Secure and provide hand sanitizer and masks to your team.
- Ensure bathrooms are fully stocked with paper towels and soap.
- Encourage staff to sanitize work surfaces that customers touch often.
- Install plastic partitions. (This is a great way to minimize viral spread between staff and customers.)
- Reduce the number of staff that work at a given time. (This will mean a reduced workload capacity and output, but it may be necessary to keep everyone safe.)
- Promote social distancing. Post signage that reminds staff to stay six feet away from one another and customers at all times.
Policies and procedures for keeping customers safe
To start, you’ll need to ensure that your workplace is regularly cleaned and disinfected. This may require closing earlier or opening later to ensure there’s enough time to perform these procedures. This might actually help in keeping staff and customers safe. Some other things you can do include:
- Limiting capacity in your place of business.
- Moving outdoors, if possible. If you run a restaurant, for instance, moving tables and chairs outside, placed six feet apart, can help reduce the risk to customers and staff.
- Using disposable items where possible. If you run a restaurant, you can use disposable cutlery, menus, and napkins in order to reduce cross-contamination. You can make paper-only menus so that they can be easily disposed of, or let your customers know that they can find your menu online.
- Enforcing social distancing within your establishment as much as possible.
- Requiring masks for entry. And, refusing service to those who don’t wear masks.
How to encourage return business
Customers are going to be wary to patronize your business in the beginning of reopening. And, that’s okay. These are scary times. But, you can help to calm your customers’ fears by truly serving your customers and encouraging the return of their business in a safe way. To do this, you can:
- Clearly indicate how you are protecting your customers via social media, email marketing, mailers, and signage.
- Offer coupons and discounts to entice loyal customers to come back.
- Offer curbside pickup for any type of retail business. This goes for everything from clothing stores to comic shops.
These are unprecedented times, but with a bit of planning and forethought, you can reopen your small business and keep everyone safe, too.
For more resources, visit OpenWeStand.org and find valuable tips and information to help small business owners get through these difficult times.