As lockdown measures are gradually eased across the UK, it’s time to start thinking about how we can all move forwards. And if you’re a business owner, that’s going to require a lot of adaptability, and a little bit of innovation.
But most importantly, it’s going to require empathy.
While some buyers are going to be desperate to come back to you, others will be more hesitant. In an era where safety absolutely comes first, what can you do to make your visitors feel protected?
#1 — Enforce social distancing rules
Social distancing remains one of the UK government’s most prominent safety messages. So, as a business owner, you need to do everything you can to encourage your customers (and your staff) to respect a 2 metre gap at all times.
There are a number of ways you can do this, but the best — and most simple — method is to provide visual cues. Posters on the walls and 2m markers on the floor (particularly around checkouts) will show your customers that you care about their safety.
Back this up with dedicated, friendly staff to enforce those rules, and you’ll have the right conditions for a COVID secure workplace — benefiting you and your customers.
#2 — Limit the amount of customers allowed into your business at any one time
To make the 2m rule possible, some businesses in the UK — particularly larger stores — have set up new procedures to control how busy the commercial space gets. You might stagger customer entries, limit your store to 30 people or fewer, and/or only permit one member per household to shop at a time.
The good news is, there’s no right or wrong here — the government hasn’t set out any guidelines to say what you can and can’t do. But put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Many people are still — quite rightly — nervous when surrounded by people they don’t know. Keeping your visitor numbers down will help alleviate these worries; improving the experience for everyone.
Finding the right balance is key, though.
You’ll need to keep up with the latest social distancing measures, and reflect these in your rules. If, in a month’s time, the government permits larger groups of people to meet, then there’s no reason to keep your entry numbers down as low as they are today. Equally, if we do see a second wave of the outbreak, and distancing measures are tightened back up, then you’ll need to do the same.
#3 — Consider installing plastic (or plexiglass) screens
Although this doesn’t fall under official government guidelines, you might’ve noticed that many larger businesses have installed ‘plastic’ screens around their till points and reception desks.
This is a great way of keeping a physical barrier between members of staff and the public — which, of course, is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19. But it’s entirely up to you. If you run a small, independent store, you might not want to invest in something which will, hopefully, be seen as overkill in a few month’s time.
#4 — Make PPE available to all your staff
As things stand, there is no formal requirement to wear medical masks in public. But to assure customers that your business is a safe place to be, certain staff members may consider wearing a face mask for specific jobs. Many customers may feel more at ease if their barista is wearing PPE, for example.
Making sure that all your staff are wearing gloves, too, is another great way of letting your customers know that your business is going that extra mile — which, right now, couldn’t be more important.
#5 — Be seen to be clean!
This one might seem a given, but unless you’re actually seen to be deep cleaning, some customers might think you’re not. This, for obvious reasons, would be a risk on all fronts.
Let’s say you own a restaurant that’s currently doing takeaway. Make it your mission to constantly clean your tills, card machines and door handles, so that your customers can see for themselves how committed you are to fighting this virus.
And if your staff consistently apply hand sanitiser after every transaction, too, your customers will have no second thoughts about buying from you in the future.
#6 — Shout about all that you’re doing
Okay, maybe not literally… but, in the same vein of being seen to be clean, telling your customers how seriously you’re taking COVID-19 is absolutely key to making your customers feel safe.
And a little bit of positivity goes a long way.
Upbeat signs, posters, social media uploads and emails will give buyers a reason to smile. This is a serious pandemic we’re all going through, but to keep instill a sense of safety, try not to focus on the negatives.
Messages like “Thank you for waiting to be called forward”, “We’re deep cleaning our shelves every evening (sorry we have to close early, though)”, “The 5 things we’re doing to keep you healthy are…” reinforce safe behaviour, while showcasing your best efforts at the same time.
#7 — Invest in hand sanitiser
Hand sanitiser has quickly become a must-have for consumers on the go. And commercial outlets that provide hand sanitiser for client use really understand customer needs.
Think about it — if your customers know that they can quickly clean their hands both before and after visiting your premises, they’re bound to feel far less stressed about the whole experience. After all, keeping our hands clean is the number one way of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
But not just any hand sanitiser will do. Hand sanitisers should be at least 60% alcohol-based, as this is what is proven to help break down viruses most effectively.
Here at CleanedUp, it’s our mission to fight the spread of COVID-19 by giving businesses quick and easy access to high quality, WHO and NHS-approved hand sanitiser solutions. We’ve already rolled out thousands of hand sanitiser stations across the London Underground, and we want to help your customers feel safe, too. Check out our products to see what’s right for you.