10 crucial tips for Covid-proofing your business

Many entrepreneurs' daily focus has gone from doing business as usual to doing everything to fight for survival. It’s not easy to run a business during times of COVID-19, especially when you’re in an industry where you rely on people physically coming in. Mike Jordan, CEO of Summit Defence, has put together ten tips to make sure your retail business or restaurant is COVID-proof.

1) Together but apart

Another way of keeping customers apart and making it less likely for them to infect each other in case they burst out sneezing, is to install perspex shields. They’re often lightweight, flexible and thanks to their see-through characteristics, you won’t lose that personal touch with your customers whilst at the same time keeping yourself and your staff protected.

2) Sticker signage

COVID-19 measures often start with social distancing. This can’t always be achieved as easily in an indoor space. One of the ways you can ensure visitors will keep their distance from your staff and each other, is mapping out a route with a one way system to guide customers safely through your business. Use stickers, tape and barricades to prevent people from crossing paths.

3) Keep an eye on the news

Setting up measures and rules begins with staying up to date with the current situation and government regulations. Do research as to what industry specific restrictions apply to your business and what advice is applicable to you.

Keep in mind that as the situation is unpredictable and things can change overnight, it is therefore important to stay in the loop and adapt.

4) Limit groups

No matter how many rules or measures you put in place, if too many people are present they won’t have the same effect. It is therefore important to limit the amount of people you allow into your business according to the amount of space you have.

For restaurants this is easy to enforce by not allowing more guests than seats available and have guests book a time slot beforehand. In a retail environment you could hand out shopping baskets or other tokens for the available 'shopping spots'. If there’s no more baskets, there’s no more space.

5) Play by the rules

Clear and open communication is always important, but even more so when it comes to all of our health and safety. Make sure your staff is fully informed about the rules put in place and ensure visitors are made aware of them even before they enter your premises by keeping them informed on social media and notices at the entry.

If someone doesn’t follow the rules, don’t be afraid to call them out on it and correct them. Keep in mind that they probably aren’t offending on purpose as the rules can be confusing with government advice changing on a daily basis. Be nice about it and help each other!

6) Sparkly clean

Pandemic or not, people like touching things. Whilst you can ask your customers to only touch those things they need or intend on buying, this is difficult to enforce. To limit the amount of germs that potentially get spread, you could install a cleaning station at the entrance where visitors can sanitise their hands and shopping cart or basket if available. For a maximum effect, place multiple sanitiser dispensers throughout your business.

7) Safety of your staff

It’s not all about keeping your customers safe, but also you and your staff. A good way to ensure they stay healthy is to appoint everyone their own work space. This way, they don’t have to cross paths too much with other employees as well as customers.

Everyone has their task with the fitting work area. Mark their spots with tape on the floor and other surfaces to remind them.

8) Turn the tables

The best way of avoiding contamination, is by avoiding people coming into your business in the first place. Think about ways to deliver your products and services to your customers at home by setting up an online store or partnering with food delivery services.

This not only protects your customers and staff, it also makes your business more sustainable in the event of another lockdown.

9) Closing time

COVID-proofing your business doesn’t stop at closing time. Once all customers have left the premises, you are given the time and space to properly sanitise your building, furniture and products to start fresh the next day. Once it’s time to head home also have your staff thoroughly clean their hands and attire if applicable.

10) Cash is not king

Communicate to your customers that you prefer them to pay by card where possible. Not only is this a lot faster and removes extra steps involved which means less physical contact, cash is also known to be one of the biggest carriers of germs and other woes.

A bonus tip for restaurants is to set up an app for customers to put their order through. This allows your staff to keep their distance even more.