5 ways to help transition your business when they relax the Covid-19 lockdown

/ May 23, 2020/ Advice, business, Commentary, Covid 19, Strategy/ 0 comments

Transitioning your business in a post Covid-19 world. 5 ways you can do it.

In this article I’m going to talk about how to make that transition from normal operations to operations in a post Covid 19 world. I read this article about gyms being a “thing of the past”. I don’t agree entirely with that broad statement, but things will change. One of the solutions offered is only allowing members in at appointed times. This means using technology to help manage customers and clients in a physical space. These are just suggestions and the state of Covid 19 is ever changing. But above all if we use our common sense we will get through this pandemic. And before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Gyms are probably the hardest hit when the Covid 19 pandemic occurred. The Gym business model works on community and right now community is what helps spread the virus. Other businesses that are also hit hard by these new social distancing effects are Bars, restaurants and entertainment areas. Cinema’s would be the worst affected because they deal with large groups to turn a profit, To be able to make back on the investment cinemas need to have a lot of people seated every night. So all these businesses have a challenge. How to keep the social distance paradigm, and turn a profit.

UPDATE: The Government has released their requirements for Gyms for the reopening. You can find more about it here.

Gym guidelines:

Signage outlining the new regulations (e.g. physical distancing, the use of face masks/shields, hand sanitization, cough etiquette) are to be posted at highly visible locations outside and within the facility. Allowing 15-minute intervals between personal training sessions or group classes to allow for thorough sanitization of all equipment utilized; Non-essential amenities such as magazines and books should be removed from reception areas to avoid cross-contamination. Also most importantly: Six feet apart, no circuit training, one hour limit for customers. You can read the entire guideline here: https://bit.ly/2YeZBPs

The first response would be to raise prices. This may work in the short term, but would ultimately hurt your business. What’s needed is a more creative approach. I’d like to discuss 5 things that you could do to help transition your business in a post Covid-19 world.

1. Use technology.

This means using appointment apps, online booking forms, website contact forms and email. You cannot use Whatsapp anymore for handling this, you need to scale up. Anything you can do online do it. Use your space to host trainers, for example, to hold a class. Create and share a FAQ document outlining specific questions around your supply chain, your health and safety practices and potential risks to your customers if they continue to patronize your business. Just like the restaurant delivery service, and the grocery curbside pickups, Gyms and salons should invest in an online calendar system.

There are many available and some very reasonable, even free in a pinch, some can even work within your existing Facebook messenger system, thereby reducing training time. Anything you can do now technology wise, do it and scale up accordingly.

You should also encourage less over the counter cash payments and more online payments. This will reduce contact in the long term. Have people pay electronically as much as possible. In this article I discuss payment portal options.

A LinkedIn comment on this post brought to my attention the use of NFC (Near Field Communication) wristbands at a counter to keep the amount of persons in the gym at a safe amount. This is a push towards “contactless” transactions. Gyms already have the use of membership cards so you can enforce the strict use of that in the short term to manage intake. It was pointed out that if gyms are to survive they should consider staying open for 24 hours. But that leads to additional management and logistical problems of staffing and and security. Things to consider.

I can help you with this. Finding the right kind of app to help with your business. Get in contact and we’ll see how we can do this together.

2. Use a new space.

Redesign the interior of your physical space. Reduce clutter, add more wash stations and screens. Utilise creative ways to maintain a 6 feet social distance. (Mark out floors) Assign areas. Adjust hours. In the Cinemas you might have to show more screenings as your intake would be halved. You could increase the trailers between reels to accommodate people waiting while staggering intake. Some cinemas with large open car parks have invested in outdoor “drive in” like showings. Realistically, the cinema paradigm is going to be very hard to maintain in post Covid 19 world.

A recent study showed that people would rather stay home and watch a movie now than go to a cinema. A trend that was already in train before Covid 19. It will be interesting to see how big brand names like IMAX and 4DX respond to these new challenges.

3. Use Incentives/Giveaways.

Free masks, gloves, branded items. If you’re wearing a mask properly get a percentage off a ticket price. Incentivise employees for good sanitation practices. Invest in people to champion the new rules. Increased security. Train them to be courteous, but firm. It’s better for all, to maintain the 3-6 feet distance. The whole idea of customer service has to change. Now customer service reps have no choice but to not just smile and be pleasant they also have to maintain a sense of order within an establishment without causing discomfort, or pushing away potential, and much needed, customers. Any way for an employee to help stop the spread of the virus must be applauded. There was a great example of employees doing the right thing outside a Gelsons in California by denying entry to a lady who refused to wear a mask, a new store policy. All businesses should take note of the way the employees handled this difficult person. It’s not going to be easy, and you will probably lose a lot of customers, but stay the course and you’ll be ok.

4. Use what you have.

If you’re a cinema, push your in house dining solution by ordering what you want first before you arrive. The food will be waiting for you. If you’re a Gym, stagger hours, increase encouragement of appointments and give away some stuff to incentivise. Gyms have so much to offer in the way of additional services, smoothies, cookies, towels. Free masks. The ideas are seemingly endless. If you do it right you will come out on top of this. Just think of what you have now that you can use.

5. Use common sense.

Some businesses will find it hard to change. A bar for example would be harder to maintain social distance than a grocery. Above all use common sense when reopening your business. Can you effectively control your clientele to keep the spread of infection from happening? If so then do whatever you can to keep business going. Creating your reopening plan will require a lot of internal and external assessment of multiple factors that could impact your success moving forward. The key to a successful reopening is one where people feel safe, your employees and customers. It’s going to be a rough ride. There are those who won’t make it. My advice has always been “be positive” and work to your strengths. Rise to the challenge. Simple changes can be a big help. Consistency is also key.

Some points to remember

Reopening and adjusting to the “new normal” will involve several steps for businesses to take, from researching, communicating, and executing plans to pivoting strategically. — Getty Images/andresr

As you develop your time frame for reopening, here are a few steps you can take to make a smoother transition:

Get input from your team. If your business is customer-facing, ask your staff for their thoughts and concerns about interacting with customers in the near term, given the current circumstances in your state. Some staff may be eager to get back to work, while others may feel more comfortable waiting a week or two for an additional drop in COVID-19 cases.

Plan out an anticipated schedule of pre-opening tasks. From deep-cleaning and sanitizing to rearranging furniture to encourage social distancing, make a list of everything you’ll need to do to get your business customer-ready.

Coordinate with your vendors. If you’ve been shut down, start reaching out to vendors to re-establish your supply chain and administrative support. If you’ve been operating in a limited capacity, plan ahead for how your inventory needs may increase as business picks up.

Give your customers a heads up. Even if you don’t have an exact date for reopening yet, stay in touch with your customers and let them know to stay tuned for an upcoming announcement.

In conclusion

If a vaccine is found for the virus, we will all breathe a sigh of relief. However, you shouldn’t hold out hope that there will be one. You need to look at the reality of this new paradigm. It’s been over 6 months since the world went into lockdown, we learned a lot. One of the things we learned as managers is that we can work from home. It’s not impossible to change our habits. Now we’re going to have to change again. Change is good, and it’s for the best. Find your niche, work to your strengths and continue to provide the best services for your employees and your customers. We will all be doing this together, even if we’re separated by social distancing.

Ian Reid runs this website called ReidDesigns with a goal to help his clients and the people during these strange days under Covid 19. Leave a comment below on how you plan or measures you have put in place to deal with reopening your business during Covid 19.

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