The coronavirus pandemic has forced small businesses to close their doors or, at the very least, drastically change their business model to include more robust delivery, carryout and curbside pickup options. Many states, including Iowa and Nebraska, have begun the process of loosening restrictions and are allowing businesses to begin resuming normal operating procedures in a limited capacity.
Loosening restrictions may be a positive step toward returning to normal, but for the immediate future, businesses will need to adapt to a new normal. This means planning their business opening around ensuring employee and customer safety, as well as accounting for recent changes in consumer behavior.
Here are some tips to consider as you prepare to reopen your business.
Ensure Employee Safety
Your employees are the lifeblood of your business and providing a work environment that allows them to be well and healthy is of utmost importance. When possible, allow your employees to continue working from home. Many small businesses, however, cannot operate remotely and will need to improve safety on site for its employees.
Adjust your work areas to ensure that employees stay at least six feet apart whenever practical. Implement frequent hand washing procedures for your employees and inform them about coughing and sneezing etiquette as well as proper tissue use and disposal. Additionally, enhance your cleaning procedures so that all work areas are disinfected regularly. Throughout each day, make sure you frequently sanitize your credit card machines, checkout counters, pens and anything else that comes in contact with employees and customers.
Even if your business requires employees on site to operate, it’s important to require your employees to stay home if they are feeling sick.
Continue Social Distancing Measures for Customers
Even as businesses are allowed to welcome customers back inside, it’s important that they continue practicing social distancing. Ensure that customers are still staying six feet apart whenever possible and continue encouraging the use of face masks. For restaurants, this may require making adjustments to the seating layout and spreading out tables even further. Mark areas with signage or other markers to make sure customers are staying six feet apart while waiting in line to pay for, order or pick up items.
When possible, establish hours of operation to allow for exclusive access to individuals who are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from infection, as defined by the CDC.
Adjust for Changes in Consumer Behavior
Even though customers will be allowed to come into your business on a restricted basis, many will choose to continue limiting their potential for exposure to the coronavirus by opting for delivery, as well as curbside and contactless pickup for the foreseeable future. By continuing to offer these options, you can continue serving the customers in a way that is safe for them and your employees.
Another way to make sure you are reaching your customers is by allowing them to purchase your products online. Even for small businesses, there are an increasing number of affordable online payment options that create efficiencies and provide convenience to customers. If you already have an online presence, make sure your business is listed on Google and that your details are accurate so your customers know how to find you.
Making Your Final Preparations
As businesses begin to reopen across the country, it’s important to keep employee safety and customer health at the forefront of your plans. For more tips on safely reopening your business, check out this report from the National Retail Federation.
If you want to learn more about online payment options to expand your business’s online shopping options, contact a Treasury Management Representative at Northwest Bank.
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