As larger companies begin to re-open their doors after local lockdowns, the reopening process might be easier said than done for small businesses. We understand that as a small business, the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic might be impacting your success at a higher magnitude than corporate businesses. We have seen too many small businesses keep their doors closed permanently with no way to pivot their approach during this pandemic. Navigating new norms in a post-pandemic world might seem daunting and completely new as there are virtually almost no past examples to draw from. We want to specially offer advice, from our business to yours, on how to safely reopen your doors and thrive as a small business.
First, you will need to re-evaluate your rules and processes to accommodate Covid-19 related protocols and circumstances. Consider what capacity restrictions you can allow in order to uphold proper distancing measures. You will want to ensure you allow 2-meter distancing between individuals inside your building, so figure out what your capacity would be to adhere to this.
If you are a service provider, control your traffic inflow by switching periodically to appointment only. You may need to look at reducing the number of appointment slots you have in a day or the number of staff in the house each day to do these appointments. Explore providing your service virtually over the phone or video call. If possible, do some of your appointments over virtual channels to keep up your work pipeline without violating your in-house capacity regulations.
If you are a provider of goods, consider offering alternative ways for your customers to interact with your business. Try offering touchless, curbside pickups, and reservations for customers who already know what they want. That being said, if your business website is not digitally integrated with an e-commerce platform, you will want to do that first! Not everyone is going to feel comfortable shopping the way they had before – making your products shoppable online gives your customers access to do business with you from wherever they are. Who knows, you might even end up expanding your regular customer circle! Keep minimum products on display, with the bulk of your stock kept in storage. Depending on the product, you may also want to reconsider having testers out for worry of cross-contamination.
Leaning and Communication
Keep your customers in the loop about what they can expect when your doors open. What will visiting your building look like? How will engage with your brand change? What will your staff and visitors need to enter your business doors? Communicate what can be expected prior to entering the building over your social media and communication channels. This will help alleviate anxieties around the change.
Implement sanitizers at all entrances with signage to encourage and remind all personnel to use these upon entering and leaving. Depending on how high the traffic is through your area, you may want to also consider mandatory infrared temperature checks for all staff and visitors. You will also need to keep records of all individuals entering and leaving your office space; if anyone tests positive, it is required by Health Canada to notify all individuals who were the building and possibly exposed. Try using a sign-in sheet nearby your sanitizer stations to keep the entering and exiting process simple and all in one place.
If you decide to require mandatory masks within your premises, be sure to display visible signage or provide these at applicable entrances or exits. Likewise, if requiring mandatory sanitizers or infrared temperature checks, set up stations near entrances and exits to make the process top of mind and as smooth as possible. Evaluate your space for high-risk areas and intersections for traffic congestion and capacity violations. Think about regulating traffic in these areas by providing occupancy limitations or removing every second workstation or chair.
Communicate to staff how you will be protecting them in this re-opening season. Will you be providing masks or gloves? Will you be installing transparent shields in check-in and reception areas? Like your customers, employees will want clear and transparent communication on how your company will be adapting and proceeding into this new reality. Get employees equipped with the proper tools to continue working with remote access. This may include collaboration tools, technologies, and apps to stay connected and keep your business running seamlessly.
You may need to reconsider how many staff you will keep on for each shift. If possible, splitting staff between working from the office and working from home can be a good alternative in keeping your manpower high without overcrowding your office. Be sure to get buy-in with your employees on pitching in, whether it be rotating cleaning schedules or reallocating roles new necessary roles like taking temperature checks at the door. The more hands the merrier in reopening your business and getting everyone involved and invested could save you on resistance in bringing in additional processes later.
Businesses are navigating a completely new turf as they look to adapt and remain flexible in such a tumultuous time. As a local business, Truspace recognizes the value that small local businesses add to the originality and history of our cities. We appreciate our small business clients and will continue to support the local companies who make up the building blocks of our economy. In partnership with our sister company, Truspace is now offering Small Business Reopening Consultation, with access to high-quality PPE and protective equipment when you work with us on your upcoming project.
For a free, preliminary consultation, tailored to your small business and changing space, apply for an appointment.