With lockdown restrictions loosening as the curve of COVID-19 flatten, it’s important we all do what we can to prevent an increase in infections. As a shop owner, you need to ensure staff and customers follow strict hygiene rules so that everyone stays safe.
While daily cleaning practices are important, you should not depend entirely on them to curb the spreading of diseases, especially contagious ones. You have to ensure that you, along with your employees and customers, are conscious of following good health practices at all times.
Those rules are outlined below:
Make hygiene a priority
If there is one thing that slows the spread of viruses like COVID-19, it making hygiene a priority. Till we get a vaccine and even after that, keeping clean will help protect ourselves and others from a range of illness. Your shop needs to be held to the same hygiene standards you are, if not more so. To do so, you can take measures like:
● Employees to frequently wash hands
● Ensure that everyone is wearing a mask
● Have hand sanitizer available for staff and customers at entrance and counter
● If employees are unwell, make sure they stay home
Keep the store clean
You need to make sure your store is free from dirt, germs, dust and other harmful particles. You will have to:
● Regularly clean and disinfect all surfaces, particularly high-touch areas (seek help from commercial cleaning services to get the best results)
● Minimize items customers can touch if possible (e.g. have staff members get items, do not offer samples or testers)
● Make sure your employees and customers are using their elbows to push and pull the doors instead of using their hands
Social distancing minimizes the contact people have with one another, reducing cross-contamination. This decreases the risk illnesses spreading, diminishing the number of infected people. So, ensure that your retail shop has as much space as possible for people to walk around the store without coming into contact with other. For this, follow the below measures:
● Change the store layout to allow maximum distance between customers and staff
● Only let a few people into the store at any time (follow health authority guidelines for maximum capacity) – have someone keeping track of this at the entrance
● Only use contactless payment if possible
Keep everyone informed
There’s a famous saying that “Ignorance is bliss”. But in situations like COVID-19, ignorance can be dangerous. Not keeping up-to-date with the latest information or rules you are supposed to follow can put you and others in danger. Make sure that all your employees and customers are well-informed about the latest changes happening around your store. For this,
● Tell staff about changes in procedures or policy
● Inform customers about services that may have changed or may not be available
● Make this information easily accessible (e.g. website, social media)
Due to restrictions, your store’s hours may have changed or other aspects of your store may be different. As with the above point, it’s important to make this information easily available for staff and customers so expectations can be adjusted. However, you may need to encourage staff (and yourself) to be more understanding in these uncertain times.
● Don’t tell a customer they cannot come in, rather explain that they will have to return later. Alternatively, you can direct them to make an online purchase. Remember to explain that it is for everyone’s safety that the store is closed or that the maximum occupancy has been limited. Be considerate and sensitive.
● Train staff in conflict resolution techniques to help calm upset customers
● Change your sick leave policies and allow your staff to stay at home if they exhibit any symptoms like sore throat, cough, cold, fever and headaches. Read our another article on "Guide to Cleaning Office Chairs"
Let’s stay safe
Everyone around the world has been subjected to the adverse effects of COVID-19. The only way to stop the virus spreading is to keep our surroundings clean and maintaining healthy hygiene practices. As a responsible store owner and manager, ensure that your employees and customers are safe and are following necessary safety instructions.