How to Implement Social Distancing For Small Businesses
As more businesses start to open, we know it might be nerve-racking to ensure that your small business is complying with all the social distancing rules. We understand that it can be difficult for independent retailers and small businesses to navigate how they will operate with the various social distancing, cleaning and legal procedures.
With that said, it's time to start thinking about medium-to-long-term solutions for small businesses. The importance of social distancing going forward has been made clear. Use the tips in this blog to streamline your daily operations and reduce headaches.
In some plazas and retail spaces that have already opened, it has started to look like a crazed director's idea of an apocalyptic movie trailer. Owners are using whatever the store can find for social distancing measures like flipped upside down shopping carts, caution tape, ropes, or pallets to help block areas off. Some stores are using hard-to-read scribbled up handwritten signage to direct customers, which looks and feels confusing and scary.
We have been having conversations and staying in touch with other businesses to see how they are currently moving forward, what their tactics have been so far and ways they will need to improve to see if as a manufacturer we would be able to provide any solutions.
We understand the gravity of the situation and that for some smaller retailers, they might not have the right tools or resources to figure out their options. Not everyone has a large store with massive entrances and exits that allows hundreds to flow in and out at any given time. With that in mind, we've compiled a few ways to make sure that your small business or independent retailer is operating as smoothly as possible, leaving your customers satisfied and at ease.
WHY IT MATTERS
HERE FOR THE LONG RUN
Many researchers predict that we'll be social distancing for the foreseeable future.
Not following social distancing rules poses serious risks for employees and customers and could force your business to re-close again later on.
Grants you the time to clean commonly touched areas in between customers
For certain types of businesses, these procedures will reduce line wait times outside the store and ensure your customer's experience is frictionless.
Offers your clients peace of mind, especially if they know your space will have minimal people shopping at certain times. This allows them to shop freely and worry-free
ONLINE IS EVERYTHING
BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS' ONLINE PRESENCE
With social distancing here to stay, building your online presence is more important than ever, and isn't difficult even for the not-so-tech savy.
1.Click here to learn about Toronto's initiative to get businesses online and see if you can apply for their help to get your business online.
2. Don't have a website set-up? Look up how to get product info on your website, Facebook page or Instagram. It's simpler than you might think. This allows you to potentially offer curbside pick-up or allows customers to explore products they need before they come in and purchase them so they spend less time in-store.
3. Update your Google listing (through the Google MyBuisness web or phone app). Many people go to google to get your accurate information - leaving this blank due to unknowns is worse than posting that. Keep your hours up-to-date or post a COVID-19 specific post which they have added an option for.
The internet has everything you need from step-by-step instructions to follow-along how-to videos for all things digital. If you're feeling confused, try watching a tutorial first so it feels a bit more clear. We promise it's easier than you think!
SIMPLE STORE SOCIAL DISTANCING
WHAT TO LOOK INTO
While using what is immediately available to you is a great start to get your business up and running again, it isn't a sustainable way of staying safe and promoting long-term social distancing.
Nuvo Iron offers several different products that can be used to help with social distancing rules and can be easily customized in ways that suit you and your store's individual needs.
Aluminum Railing Benefits & Uses
Our aluminum railing has several features that make it perfect for social distancing promotion. It's easy to clean, cost-effective and easy to install.
It comes in black and white, so you can choose the colour that best complements your independent retailer/small business. Who says social distancing can't look good? We believe that social distancing tactics should have a certain level of appeal to make the retail space feel more inviting - like we said, less apocalyptic, upside-down shopping carts.
Use it to easily keep people entering and exiting in the way you want (inside or outside)
Provides a heightened level of security and order
Easily hang any signage required for your unique store space
For more information, we have a full website page dedicated to the benefits of this product with tons of photos and suggestions on how to incorporate it into the retail space big or small.
Balusters and Rail Kits
You can create railing sections with wood or composite and balusters. It provides the same features as the aluminum railing above, but with a different look and price point.
We carry a number of different baluster styles and sizes, so you can achieve social distancing compliance in style. See all the options here.
The CR-32 pack is a value pack that comes with all the connectors and balusters you need and covers 12 linear feet. Just buy the top rails and posts and you're good to go.
Gates/ Gate Kits Benefits/Uses
Have an area that might need to be blocked off going forward? People are blocking off areas that may be hard to social distance in. Or, if you have staff being used for crowd control, they may not be able to overlook that area as easily. Use a gate to ensure that people aren't getting into areas where they're not supposed to be.
Easily add a lock for even more security.
We have many gate options that are preassembled and long-lasting, which makes them perfect for indoor or outdoor uses.
Iron Fence Benefits/Uses
We don't think social distancing is going away anytime soon for some types of businesses. Our commercial and residential iron fencing lines can be used as a long-term and heavy-duty solution for enforcing social distancing in large, outdoor areas where this may be necessary.
Wide variety of elegant designs ensures you'll be safe and sanitary in style
Possible temporary lockup for in-demand items that people have been hoarding (i.e. toilet paper, hand sanitizer)
Easy to clean and provides a heightened level of security and order
Unsure of whether or not the above methods will work for your small business or independent retailer due to size? Don't worry, most of our products can be easily modified for small sections or angled areas. We're here to help, snap some photos of your store space and send them over. We can help identify what products of ours could work best for you.
SMALL STORE TIPS
Some other ideas aside from the physical barriers that could help - especially if your customers would have to wait outdoors or you're a business where the buying process might take a bit longer than a "grab-and-go" store.
Implement shopping time limits, so customers only spend a certain amount of time inside to be courteous to other customers waiting in line (i.e. 30 mins.) Post a visible and easy-to-read sign on your railing, front door or in your retail store to remind people. Here's an example: "Please respect the 30-minute limit, so as to be courteous to waiting customers."
Try strategic booking hours, so it isn't always jam-packed at 12:00 pm on a Saturday. Many website builders or apps that connect to Facebook or Instagram offer easy to use booking programs. Offer tailored booking times based on your unique, busy and quiet days and times. You can try using a quieter day of the week or time of day to offer longer booked times in the store for customers - such as a longer 1-hour shopping time on Tuesday evenings. Another example is offering partial booked times daily: 9 am - 1 pm is open for all shoppers, but 1:30 pm - 6 pm is reserved for booked shopping times only. This gives you a half-hour of proper cleaning time in between.
Make sure there are written procedures employees can follow. Take the time to walk them through the cleaning and social distancing processes. Look into taking temperatures and double-check that you have a sufficient amount of masks, gloves and cleaning supplies. Do a final walk-through to ensure all bases are covered before you open.
READY TO START?
WE'RE HERE TO HELP
Interested in our products for your location? Send us a photo of your store and we can help quote what you might need. Have a budget you need to stick to or certain, unique things that might pose a challenge in your store? Let us know and we may be able to suggest a better solution.
While our products are designed with ease-of-installation in mind, not everyone is handy or has the time to spend installing the products themselves. Contact us and we'll provide you with some reputable contractors near you.
Need help with signage for your railings? We'll put you in touch with trusted sign companies that are ready to provide you with quality service. Here are some signage ideas we have that you could use on a railing system:
1. Learn more about social distancing rules from your government's website so you can make sure whatever you implement is compliant.
1.1 Click here for the Canadian government's social distancing rules.
1.2 Click here for the American government's social distancing rules.
1.3 Click here for the Retail Council of Canada's resources on dealing with coronavirus.
2. Look into getting an employee to enforce social distancing rules and keep line-ups or schedule times in order. It helps reduce friction between customers when an employee enforces the rules.
3. Get to work on installing, or having installed, barriers/dividers & signage.
4. Make sure your signs/display markers are simple, clear, and easy to understand - that alone can reduce confusion.
While these times are undeniably stressful and difficult for every business, implementing some procedures will ensure small businesses, independent retailers and everything in between will be running as efficiently and safely as possible. Don't forget to use the internet as a great tool to learn during these times. There are tons of easy to follow tutorials online for setting up all kinds of digital tools that can help you during this time and going forward.
Stay SAFE, your Friends at Nuvo Iron.
*Note: Social distancing and COVID-19 laws and regulations differ for various types of businesses and will vary by province or state. Ensure you comply with your local rules and regulations before the implementation of the suggestions above. In addition to local rule compliance, visit your government's website regularly to stay up-to-date with emerging information that affects your nation as a whole.