Businesses initiated their reopening plans as soon as restrictions started to be lifted. However, for customer-facing businesses, this a tough balancing act to strike. They want to have as many customers as possible to get profits back up, but also need to be effectively able to provide that they are safe enough to profit. It’s important to remember that not only are large swaths of the customer base afraid of getting sick, but they may be hurting financially due to the pandemic as well. This leads to people being more judicious with the businesses they patronize. How exactly can businesses help give its clientele confidence?
A lot of this is going to boil down to clearly displaying and enforcing guidelines. At this point, your average person understands the basic precautions that need to be taken when entering a public space:
- Wearing a mask
- Using sanitizer/gloves for their hands
- Keeping six feet apart whenever possible
- Avoiding contact with shared services whenever possible
The chances are that most careful customers silently judge a business before going in based on these guidelines. If they see a smattering of customers wearing masks and not much organization going on, chances are they aren’t going to feel very safe and may look elsewhere. This means that simply providing lip service and putting up a few signs requesting this aren’t going to make the difference.
Your floor staff and management alike need to be trained so they can properly allow guests in and politely enforce compliance. This takes time, so you want to make sure you are putting together a concrete plan as you work towards reopening, rather than opening as soon as you can and hoping the situation will iron out.
In addition, you want to make sure your staff is adequately protected. Rapidly sanitizing shared surfaces like tables for dining and shopping carts is going to be a major part of their daily tasks, so you want to make sure your employees can do their job properly. A single infected staff member can create a massive problem for your business, after all. If you’re working in a retail setting where members of your staff are going to be facing the public, they may need plexiglass barriers to ensure that they aren’t at risk for exposure at the register. Some cash-only businesses may want to reevaluate their policies, as money can be a transference vector.
Some businesses are trying to take things a bit further, to mixed success. For example, some businesses are requiring people to give their cellphone numbers upon entry in case contract tracing is needed. Certain restaurants are phasing out paper menus temporarily for online ones to cut down on shared surface contact. These are good for added safety, especially in environments that are inherently riskier. However, the more stringent the measure, the greater risk of angering or losing a customer who doesn’t want to comply. No one wants their business to be the flashpoint of a viral moment of a person lashing out over a safety restriction. Sadly, it happens often.
Making a safe environment in the world of business going forward is a tall order. Each industry and even each region is going to have its own risks of exposure. Part of the issue is that in many ways, business owners are limited to what’s currently available, as opposed to holding out for that perfect solution. After all, they need to keep their doors open in order to stay alive, and that means assessing and mitigating risks. One of the best ways to “work with what’s available” is readily using self-attestation tools, like the COVID-PreCheck. Visit covidprecheck.net or use it from the COVID PreCheck app.
Let’s close with a hypothetical example. Say that a small business owner wants to minimize the chance of people who have been infected or exposed entering their premises. Require customers, employees, and vendors to perform a self-assessment before heading to the business. When they complete it on the COVID-PreCheck app, they will have a customized QR code to show they have passed. This makes for a simple and effective way to show one’s negative status before entering a public space.