Restrictions are lifting as we move into phase two of COVID-19. It is an exciting time, with a hint of normalcy in sight, however, it is also important to keep health and safety in mind. There is no doubt that many things have changed during this pandemic. Now, some businesses are allowed to gradually re-open, with restrictions. As a business owner, it is important to communicate with your clients and let them know about your new policies, office hours, and health measures you have in place to ensure their safety.
We have created some helpful tips to communicate your message in a friendly way and keep your clients informed. Customers will feel more at ease coming to visit your business when they know what to expect. Of course, all businesses will differ in protocol and requirements, and naturally, this global situation is constantly evolving. This is a general outline that can be adapted to and modified for your unique field.
Send out the Message
Your clients are likely waiting to hear updates about your hours, availability, and new guidelines. As soon as you decide to re-open, it’s a great idea to send out the message. Let your clients know you’re ready for them.
A fast and simple way to market your business is through email marketing and social media updates. Send out an email to your subscribers and update your social media channels with a consistent message, directing your clients to call and book an appointment. Be proactive and get the message out as soon as you know you’re re-opening.
Once you’ve let everyone know you are open, it’s essential you prepare for high demand. Whether you are a dental clinic, salon, or restaurant, you can expect an influx of customers.
Many peoples’ lives cannot be fully put on hold and things like dental health, haircare, and dining out have simply been postponed, rather than canceled entirely. This means that there may be an influx of clients looking to book with you. Put yourself in their shoes and understand that they have been patient, waiting for your reopening.
A great way to stay organized and keep your clients happy is to use an advanced scheduling platform. There are some businesses, like gyms and walk-in clinics that have come out with apps, where a client can book a timeslot in advance. This is an excellent idea, but for those looking for a more simple solution, there are many existing platforms that can make scheduling easy. For example, Calendly is a free appointment scheduling software that allows clients to see your availability and book with you in a simple email.
If your place of business is open and receiving customers, it is a good idea to have a member of staff available to perform customer screenings. This person should ask your customers about whether or not they have experienced any COVID symptoms recently. In some fields, you may even be required to check clients for fevers before entry. It’s best to communicate with your clients beforehand if you are doing in-office screenings and temperature checks so that they know what to expect when they arrive.
As mentioned in the Times Colonist’s business guide to re-opening “the main safety issues revolve around the general principles of maintaining distance, not just between workers but with members of the public as well. The principles also include good sanitation and hygiene, cleaning, and rethinking business practices.”
Thorough cleanings are an essential part of re-opening your business during phase two. Cleanings should be performed multiple times throughout the day. It is suggested that professional cleaning crews clean high traffic areas after hours.
Many companies are re-opening with reduced office hours. This gives staff the opportunity to clean thoroughly in-between scheduling and it allows for reduced staff on-site; which improves social distancing. Operating at reduced hours may seem tedious at first, but it is a very effective way to ensure a clean, safe, and sanitary work environment.
Personal Protective Equipment
The Government of Canada encourages the use of Personal Protective Equipment or PPE such as gloves and masks at work. Although medical-grade PPE should be reserved for healthcare workers and related industries, PPE is a great way to protect yourself, your employees, and your clients.
Use PPE if your employees must work within close proximity. Due to the shortage of PPE, it’s acceptable to make your own masks and homemade devices, given you understand the limitations involved.
One of the most important aspects of re-opening your business is ensuring both your customers and your employees are a safe distance apart. WorkSafe BC suggests: “Consider reducing the overall number of workers at the workplace at one time. This may be done by implementing work-from-home schedules or rescheduling some work tasks.”
Depending on your industry, this may mean moving desks apart, having fewer people on staff at once, or monitoring those coming and going. Either way, you must ensure that your customers and employees are a safe distance apart (2 meters). If closer proximity is required, install physical barriers such as plexiglass. Promote the use of masks and other forms of PPE to prevent the spread of germs and particles.
Be Sure Employees are Up-to-Date
It’s so important for you to ensure your staff is up-to-date with regards to your COVID policies. If you are operating with reduced hours, ensure all employees understand their schedule and follow social distance requirements while working. Have a clear COVID safety plan outlined to share with your employees.
You can meet with your staff digitally; have them share their concerns and ideas regarding operations and sanitation upon re-opening. It’s a great way to ensure everyone in your business is on the same page.
Display Your Safety Plan
As noted by WorkSafe BC “before reopening, businesses need to ensure they have a COVID-19 safety plan to protect workers and it must be displayed.” Your safety plan does not have to be fancy, it simply must be clear and easy to understand. It should be posted in a place where both your customers and employees can easily see and reference it.
Stay Up-To-Date with the News
This situation is constantly evolving and now more than ever, it is essential to pay attention to the news and updates regarding COVID. There are many helpful online resources that can help you stay up to date with general and industry-specific guidelines.
- WorkSafeBC has a detailed overview to help employees and business owners return to safe operations. They go in-depth if you are looking for more industry-specific information.
- Google My Business offers an in-depth support page for businesses looking for guidance during this time. Google includes helpful tips and walks business owners through updating their profiles with modified office hours and much more.
- The Government of Canada website as well as the public health sector also releases information frequently, as soon as it is known. They also have an email sign up so you can be notified of any changes or public updates.
Get More Advice from ElementIQ
The team at ElementIQ has worked remotely throughout the COVID pandemic to ensure businesses are equipped with the information and technology they need to pivot and succeed. If you have any questions about marketing your business during this time, our team of experts is here to help. Whether it’s an email marketing campaign, social media strategy, or website redesign; we want to help you get ahead in this time of unprecedented change. Contact us or call 604.909.3750 to see what we can do for your business.