Happy coffee shop owner at entrance

How you can get back to work post-lockdown

While many businesses have had their doors open to the public for a while now, many restrictions are still in place, and they vary depending on the region you’re in. 

One thing is for sure though, there is a multitude of measures that need to be considered in this “new normality”… particularly for the small business owner. 

To help bring some clarity and comfort into a confusing time, we’ve had a little think about how small businesses can open up shop again or improve their current service with peace of mind, both for themselves, and most importantly, for their customers. 

Restaurants, bars and cafes 

Even though restaurants, bars and cafes have been mostly open with certain opening hours or capacity restrictions depending on the region, it may be more difficult than usual for customers to relax over a glass of wine considering the situation we find ourselves in. 

That’s why it’s crucial to step up the hospitality game and to do everything you can to ensure people feel safe when they eat or have a drink with you. 

It’s often difficult for small businesses to launch big communication campaigns on how they’ll be cleaning their shops, socially distancing their staff, and offering a generally improved service.

However, it’s more than possible to let people know what measures you’re implementing. Spread the word on social media, pop up a sign or even write it up on a chalkboard outside. This is also a great way to let people know that you’re back in business if you were closed, or to update them on your serving capacity. 

Keep your customers informed with information like: 

  • What are you doing in the kitchen to keep staff at a safe distance? 

  • How is the food being prepared? 

  • How often do you clean surfaces? 

You may also want to think about a few practicalities. Normally, you wouldn’t want your customers to feel like they’re in an IKEA but perhaps introducing a one-way walking system could be beneficial. 

Another clever measure is to rethink the way you showcase your offering and take payment. How? Add a QR code to tables instead of a menu to avoid unnecessary contact and introduce contactless payments for each table.

Finally, don’t forget that a lot of people may still not feel comfortable enough to go out. So it may be worth keeping up the lockdown mindset and offering takeout, delivery boxes or gift cards. 

You can also take advantage of SumUp remote and contactless payment options to keep your customers happy.

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Beauty salons and hairdressers 

Hair and beauty salons have been deemed an essential service in Spain since May 2020, being some of the first businesses to reopen. While there’s no doubt your appointment diary won’t be empty, there are a few regulations you need to follow when taking bookings. 

Gone are the days where walk-in appointments were allowed. In this new normality, you need to keep a pristine record of who comes into your salon and when. Make sure that when making appointments, you space them out properly to give yourself enough time to deep clean equipment, get everything prepared in advance, and most importantly to protect clients from contact with other customers. 

Spacing out your appointments will also make it easier for you to keep a distance and avoid walking around from the front desk to the client chair, to the washing basin. 

If you can, purchasing screens to create barriers between workstations and to protect the reception area is also a great way to help everyone in your salon feel comfortable. 

Unfortunately, you’re also no longer able to offer people beverages or snacks or even magazines to flip through when they’re getting their hair done. That being said, you can keep up the hospitality and hand out water if it’s in a disposable bottle or cup. 

We don’t realize how many touchpoints we have in a salon from the second you walk in, to the second you pay. To minimize this, offer clients a way to select their treatment and to pre-pay it with a remote payments tool before they come in. 

If all your customers don’t feel ready to come in, at-home treatments are a great way to meet them halfway. Just remember that when treating someone at their home, you and the client need to be the only people in the room.  

The National Association of Perfumery and Cosmetics (Stanpa) has created these thorough guides for beauty salons and hairdressers that you can check out if you want more information on how to keep your customers and employees safe during these times.

Retail stores

There are a lot of things retailers can do to keep business ticking along despite the different regulations. If there’s anything we’ve learned from shops reopening across the world, it’s that there is demand. With masses of people queuing to enter their favourite stores, implementing some sort of a queuing system outside your storefront is definitely worthwhile.

Take a look at the size of your shop to gauge how many people should enter it at a time. Keeping your customers informed about your opening hours and capacity is also important, due to the constantly changing regulations per region.

When people finally get through your front door, asking them to shop with a basket or a trolly is a technique shop owners have been using to stop people from picking up and touching products they may not be interested in purchasing. It also automatically creates some sort of distance between themselves and others, and it’s a clever way to keep count of how many people you have inside your shop. If all the baskets you had available are used up, then the store is already at maximum capacity.

Whether you keep your fitting rooms open to the public or not, making your returns policy longer and offering size guides throughout the shop so customers can find a good fit without having to try anything on could be a great practice to keep in mind.

With the payment limit without authentication rising from 20 € to 50 €, it’s now easier than ever to accept contactless card payments. Contactless payments can also be used to eliminate queues and reduce people’s time spent in your store.

Whether you’re already back in business, still struggling with restrictions or unsure how to get back to work in a safe way, keep in mind that customers are as eager as you to enter new post-lockdown normality. Maintain your spaces sanitized, be mindful of the maximum capacity you can have in your business at a time and seek out contactless and remote payment solutions. For the comfort and safety of both you and your customers.

Valentina Perezalonso

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