If you’ve been following our blog lately, you’ve been reading quite a bit about tips and resources for sustaining your small business during this time. There’s a lot of content out there right now regarding the economic effects of COVID-19 and how we must work together to flatten the curve. It’s not a particularly enjoyable subject to read about, and if you’re like us, you might be feeling tired of the doom and gloom.
Today, we’re happy to start flipping the script! Instead of sharing ways to serve customers while sheltering in place, we’ll be sharing tips on how to safely reopen your business.
Before We Begin
Before diving in, we’d like to acknowledge that we know these tips may not apply to your business right now. Each state is handling the pandemic differently. Our research and inspiration for this post comes from our headquarters state of Ohio, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. If your small business is still closed, consider using some of these tips to start building a plan for reopening. Hang in there!
7 Tips for Reopening Your Small Business Safely
When preparing to reopen your business to the public following the COVID-19 pandemic, remember that the safety of your customers and employees must come first. Of course, everyone is going to be eager to get back to normal, but unfortunately the threat of the virus is still with us and will be for a while. We will all have to adjust for the health and safety of all people and businesses.
Here are some things you can do to keep that curve flat.
1. Check the public health guidelines for your state.
Your state may have established guidelines for slowing the spread of disease. For example, The Ohio Department of Health recently released their Responsible Restart Ohio plan, which includes sector-specific operating requirements for businesses to reopen. Visit your state’s website to view any recommended safety measures for your business.
2. Clean and disinfect from top to bottom.
According to the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19 can be killed if you use the right products and follow the right practices. Click here to view The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s list of these products and some alternative options. Once your doors are open, you’ll need to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces as frequently as possible. High-touch surfaces in your business may include:
- Doorknobs or handles
- Light switches
- Faucets and sinks
- Credit card machines
3. Focus on practicing good hygiene habits.One of the best ways for us to slow the spread of disease is by practicing good hygiene. Encourage your customers and employees to “Do the Five”:
- HANDS – Wash them often.
- ELBOW – Cough into it.
- FACE – Don’t touch it.
- FEET – Stay 6 feet apart.
- FEEL – Sick? Stay home.
For more advice from the World Health Organization on protecting yourself and others, click here. You can also download and print many colorful infographics from this page. Post them around your business to remind everyone to stay safe!
4. Flush water lines before reopening.
Stagnant or standing water can create an ideal environment for harmful bacteria. Especially if your business has been closed for the past couple of months, the CDC recommends flushing your water lines before opening to the public. Flush hot and cold water through sinks, faucets, or showers to replace all water in your building with fresh water. How long you should flush the lines will vary depending on the size of your facility, but a good rule of thumb is to flush until the hot water reaches its maximum temperature. For more information, click here.
5. Consider cloth face coverings.
In Ohio, the use of cloth face coverings is not required by the state, but is recommended. (Visit your state’s website for requirements in your area.) Keep in mind that store-bought or homemade cloth face coverings cannot completely protect you from contracting disease. However, wearing one can reduce the risk of you spreading sickness to others. Donning your face covering during this time shows respect and courtesy to the people around you.
As a small business owner, you can request and even require that employees and customers wear face coverings in your store or business. Again, please visit your state’s website for specific requirements or recommendations on face coverings.
6. Encourage social distancing within your business.Especially if your business is a retail store, service-based business, or general office environment, you should be able to successfully practice social distancing. Here are a few suggestions on how to do this:
- Continue to offer curbside and delivery services for your customers.
- At checkout, place marks on the floor 6 feet apart and encourage customers to stand on them as they wait in line.
- Assign a team member to track the number of people in your store and allow customers to enter one at a time.
- Refrain from passing out brochures or business cards when meeting with new customers.
- Meet with customers outside when possible, and stand 6 feet apart.
- If you must enter a customer’s home, wear shoe coverings, a face covering, and gloves.
- Wear face coverings.
- Encourage employees to eat lunch at their desks or by themselves.
- Rearrange cubicles to put plenty of space between employees.
7. Share your plan with your customers.Once you have prepared a plan for reopening your business, don’t forget to share it with your customers! They will be eagerly waiting to pay you a visit, but also want to know that it is safe to do so. Sharing your plan on your website and social media pages is a great way to remind your customers that you are back in action and ready to serve them with safety in mind!
Best Wishes for Reopening!
We truly wish you the best as businesses begin to open and we start to emerge from our shelters. Remember to put people first by doing everything you can to create a safe environment for your customers to enjoy. We’re not out of the tunnel yet, but a beacon of light is starting to shine through.