As a former brick & mortar retail shop owner, I do know the importance of customers being able to shop for your products and services in the space you are paying rent to occupy. As an administrator of a large higher education department, I have spent the past few weeks preparing to have employees who are unable to work remotely return to a safe workplace. I did some reflection today about what would I do if I was still a retail shop owner. Here are the five questions that came to my thought process.
1. Why are you opening for the public?
This is a great question to make sure you believe your best option is to physically open to the public. Have you leveraged all electronic and/or curbside opportunities? I have heard fantastic ideas of business innovations from restaurants creating 'family meals' either pre-cooked or for you to cook at home to creating shopping via Facebook and/or a website. Last week I shopped a virtual vendor fair and actually bought a few items. This is your chance to be innovative and potentially increase your customer base.
2. Have you walked the customer experience to see how many ways they could possibly come in contact with shared surfaces?
The goal of the CDC guidelines are to ensure shared surfaces are clean and there are so many shared surfaces in a retail shopping experience. Your customers are going to want to have assurance that you are protecting them as they are shopping in your business. Pay close attention to how you will address door handles, carts, baskets, product racks, etc.. How will you maintain an inventory of disinfectant products?
3. Will you require masks?
This is an interesting opportunity to show your customers that you care about their safety. A mask is a simple way where people can protect the transmission and make other customers feel safe. We know some business are giving masks to their customers.
4. How will you address non-compliant customers to the CDC guidelines?
Have you thought through the conversation of a customers who isn't demonstrating an awareness of following the CDC guidelines for ensuring safety in your business? Signage that conveys expectations and consequences for those who don't follow social distancing and/or masks and/or other behaviors.
5. How will you handle if an outbreak happens in your business?
Your employees should be the priority for ensuring safety. If they become ill, it will be devastating to your business. You are creating risk to them by making the decisions to open to the public. Prepare yourself by talking with your attorney to ensure you know what will happen to your business if an outbreak were to happen. There are HIPAA regulations around sharing of medical information which could impact your decisions and how you talk to your customers.
See my previous blog post titled "Having Vision during the Pandemic - You've Got This!" which conveys that I know the stress you are under however I encourage you to think through the five questions in this blog post to consider if it is worth opening because the safety of yourself, employees, and customers is a priority.
We would like to be able to help you through this. I have recently established protocols for employees returning to work who are unable to work from home. Only employees that can't work form home should be working.
Please send us feedback to email@example.com and how we could help you.
Dear Business Owners:
You've got this. Today is the first day after the past six weeks that I've been able to sit down and write this letter to you. I've been leading a team through an abrupt closure of our office and movement to remote working. Every day I've thought of you. You have set up a business with your passion, your own time and your own resources. Every day was hard enough without thinking there was a pandemic on the horizon. Of course, we watched movies about it and thought about it, but then one day we woke up and it wasn't a thought, it was reality.
I understand that your vision is masked with uncertainty right now. I know that you are grieving so much and that you have had to watch devoted employees have their world turned upside down. You've watched your financial situation be unstable. You've tried to be nimble and pivot but you are exhausted and can't see light at the end of the tunnel.
You are what inspires us to have jobs to have an income we can spend on your products and services. We still need you!
You are safe reading this blog and I would like to speak to you to grab a notebook and start to write your fears, your hopes and your vision. No, we can't go back to the way your business was. You will need to go deep and see your business in two phases, short term and long term. What resources are you wishing you had right now? Make the list. What are those products and services you have dreamed about? Dig them out of the trash or file cabinet and/or write them now. This could be your season to reinvent. What are some short term goals (including down sizing) that will allow you to reach your long term vision? Today is the first day for your fresh start.
As I write this I'm listening to music. Get your favorite music playing around you for inspiration.
From my heart to yours. Let me know what happens from this letter.
Your Vision Possible,