Many small business owners around the country are facing a tough dilemma right now: Is it time to reopen their businesses after pandemic shutdowns? How can they reopen their businesses safely?
There’s no real playbook for navigating a worldwide pandemic, which puts most of the responsibility (and stress) on business owners to figure it out on their own. Here, we’re sharing five strategies you can use to safely reopen your business. We’ll also show you how FlexBooker’s automated scheduling software can help along the way.
Prioritize safety and social distancing
First and foremost, you should have a plan in place before you reopen — one that prioritizes the safety of your employees and customers. Depending on where your small business is located, you may have to adhere to your state or city governments’ specific standards. Along with the regulations, you should also take every precaution necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19, like:
- Limiting the number of customers allowed in your storefront
- Limiting the number of employees needed to serve those customers
- Monitoring customers to ensure they abide by social distancing rules
- Stocking up on enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for your employees
- Asking every customer and employee to wear a face mask
- Taking temperatures of your employees (and, if possible, customers)
- Placing hand sanitation stations around your store
- Installing extra protection measures like plexiglass, social distancing markers on the floor, and contactless pay
If, for any reason, you can’t implement all of the required rules from your state or local officials, don’t force yourself to reopen before you’re ready. You could potentially — and unnecessarily — expose people to the virus, forcing you to shut down even longer. As a result, you’d likely lose more business — both in revenue and customers.
Create appointment-only shopping
One of the easiest ways to create a safer environment for everyone is to offer appointment-only shopping through FlexBooker. That way, you can automatically limit the number of people in your store and know exactly how many employees are needed to help. You can also limit the amount of time shoppers are allowed to be there. For example, you can make appointments 45 minutes long, leaving a 15- or 30-minute gap between each. That gives you and your employees time to re-sanitize, clean, and take much-needed breaks from the added pressure the pandemic places on everyone.
Here are just some of the other ways our automated scheduling software can help as you reopen your business:
- It’s easy to add to your website (or, we can help you create a landing page to link to from your social media profiles).
- If you have high demand, you can create wait lists for your appointments — we’ll automatically let your customers know if there’s a last-minute opening.
- With our new FlexBooker Pro Wait List app, allow walk-up customers to see your current wait, join the wait list, or create a reservation to come back later.
- The FlexBooker Pro app also tells you how many advanced reservations you have coming up so you have a perfect snapshot of your business’ capacity at any time.
Set expectations and boundaries
One of the best features of FlexBooker is that you can send automated appointment reminders via text or email to everyone on your schedule. But what makes this feature even better? You can customize those reminders.
As you work to reopen your business safely, you can use those reminders to let customers know about your new safety guidelines and what rules they should expect to follow. You can also gently remind them of any consequences to rule-breaking or breaches in safety protocol.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Don’t forget to communicate your new guidelines, rules, and protocols every chance you get. In addition to sending customized texts and emails through FlexBooker, you can also:
- Update your Google My Business information
- Post updates on your website and social media profiles
- Create signage in front of and throughout your store
- Email your clients with regular updates
If you face the unfortunate situation in which you have to close down again suddenly, FlexBooker helps take your communication plan one step further. Our automated software can handle appointment cancellations for you — sending out messages to those affected to ensure they don’t show up to your store confused and leaving frustrated.
Reopen safely (and on your terms) with FlexBooker Pro
Whether your business is reopening, closing, or adjusting to a “new normal,” the new FlexBooker Pro Wait List App can take a lot off your plate. Keep track of advanced reservations, customer wait times, and the number of people in your store, all through an easy-to-use interface.
Want FlexBooker Pro to be a part of your reopening plan? Try it free for 14 days!