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6 Ways to Keep Your Small Business Thriving During the Pandemic

By: Susan Melony

 

Office workers shake hands when meeting and greet bumping elbows. A new way to greet the obstructing spread of coronavirus. Man and woman in protective masks maintain a social distance at work.

2020 brings with it some unique challenges for the small business owner. Most small establishment owners and operators probably didn’t think they would ever have to contend with something like Covid-19.

Still, we have to deal with whatever life throws at us. If you run a small business, you’re probably already used to handling many challenges, and this is just the latest one.

If you’ve reopened, or if you never closed because you’re an essential business, you’ll want to keep both your customers and clients safe. Here are the best ways to do that.

Have Hand Sanitizer Available

An alcohol-based sanitizer can protect against illness, and not just Covid-19. It can also protect against various other germs and bugs you might encounter without even realizing it.

You can get hand sanitizer and keep it around your brick-and-mortar locations. You might have some:

  • At the front of the store
  • At the exit
  • In the aisles or anywhere else that’s convenient

Having hand sanitizer serves multiple purposes. It keeps your employees safe, as they can apply it often throughout the day. It also shows your potential customers that you’re taking the pandemic seriously and doing everything to keep them healthy.

They’ll be glad to see that. Just make sure that you only stock a hand sanitizer that the FDA says is okay. There are some they’ve warned the public to avoid in recent weeks.

Make Everyone Wear Masks

It has become a contentious political issue, but you need to have everyone wear masks if you’re going to have a brick-and-mortar location open. There is abundant evidence that masks:

  • Protect people from spreading Covid-19
  • Protect individuals from getting the coronavirus as well
  • Do not present a danger to anyone

There is anger about mask-wearing in some states and cities, but it’s nonsensical. You must have your employees wear masks to protect themselves, and the same goes for your would-be customers.

You should have large signs posted at the store entrance telling people that they must wear masks covering their noses and mouths. If they’re not willing to wear them, then there is no requirement for you to serve them.

If you can, you might consider hiring a security guard to keep people off the premises who won’t comply. If that’s not practical, then you could also instruct your employees to be ready to call the police if someone tries to enter forcefully without a mask.

Instruct Anyone Who is Feeling Sick to Stay Home

If any of your employees feel ill during a pandemic, you need to tell them to stay home. They might not want to if their money is running short, and they have families to feed and bills to pay.

The reality is that if they’re sick, then they can easily infect others, and the last thing you need is your whole workforce contracting Covid-19. If possible, you may want to start doing employee temperature checks at the start of every shift.

That probably won’t exactly thrill your employees, but it’s the responsible thing to do. Even that’s not foolproof, as someone might have the coronavirus but be asymptomatic.

In this uncertain time, though, you have to do the best you can as a business owner to keep as many of your employees and customers safe as possible.

Try to Maintain Social Distancing

If you’re running a successful business, it’s hard to have your employees and customers practice social distancing. Still, you can do all that you can to promote it.

You can make marks on the ground indicating how to keep six feet apart when your customers are in the checkout lines. You can also draw or stencil reminders on the ground in the aisles.

You might consider doing what some grocery stores and other businesses are doing, which is to put up plexiglass partitions between the cashiers and customers. You can leave a square at the bottom through which the customer can hand the cashier their cash or credit card, and the cashier can hand them back their receipt.

It’s just another small thing you can do that could make a great deal of difference.

Try to Allow Anyone to Work from Home Who Can

Depending on your business model, you might be able to have some people work from home. If you sell physical products and you have a brick-and-mortar location, or more than one, then obviously, you’ll need to have some people physically present to run the stores.

However, you might have certain jobs in your company where the individuals can work from home, or only come to your stores infrequently. For instance, maybe you have someone who does accounting for you or runs your IT department.

Those individuals might have come to your store every day before the pandemic started, but now it’s impractical for them to do that. If they can do their job or part of their job from home, you should encourage this behavior.

Disinfect Surfaces Frequently

One more thing to do is have spray bottles of sanitizer handy for your employees to use. They should get in the habit of spraying down surfaces after every customer interaction.

After a cashier checks someone out, they should spray down the conveyer belt with the sanitizer. They can come out from behind the register and spray and wipe down the plexiglass if you’ve put some up.

They can ask the customers to be a little patient as they do this. It shows that you’re trying to keep them safe, and most people who come into your store should appreciate it.

The CDC and medical professionals recommend all of these things. During these unprecedented times for small business owners and everyone else, we have to do the best we can to stop the virus’s spread.

You’re probably a determined individual, or you would never have opened up a small business. Now is the time to draw on that fortitude to keep your business going and keep serving your community.

Published: August 20, 2020
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