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7 ways to keep your business COVID-secure and increase footfall 

Written by MS
17/08/2020 11:00:05


It’s been a difficult five months throughout the UK and abroad. As the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold of Europe back in March, countries shut their borders, shops and workplaces in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus. Since then we have seen heroic acts from our frontline workers, in addition to a transition to WFH-life. Zoom meetings. which feature the occasional dog bark and cry of a newborn, have become the norm.

As the UK government eases our lockdown and more of the economy starts to open up, your business needs to be viewed by the public as a safe place to visit. Footfall on our high streets has already increased some 19% since May, and this is only going to increase as more people venture out for their inaugural post-lockdown haircuts and start shedding some of those pounds we have all gained!

In a recent poll by Ipsos MORI, 62% of those questioned said that returning to normal life after lockdown is making them anxious. If you want your store to do well, you need to eliminate this anxiety and be seen to make an effort to create a COVID-secure space. 

Whether you own a barbers/hairdressers, a gym, nail bar or local convenience store, the primary way to increase your footfall in a post-COVID UK is by inspiring trust in the local public: you want your customers to feel safe when in your store so they might return again, and encourage more of their friends to leave their homes. 

In this blog, we are going through the top 7 ways for you to create a welcoming environment for your clientele - no matter your industry or targeted demographic. These are surefire ways to help drive revenue after a precarious period. This is even more important as the UK enters its deepest recession in recorded history and the economy has shrunk by more 20% since the start of Q2. If you are ready for more willing customers to come to your shop for a skin fade or a set of new nails, then you need to keep reading this guide!
 

1. Signs, signs and more signs:


The pandemic has been a period of uncertainty for people all over the country. The past five months have been plagued by vague information, sceptical analysis and specious arguments. Therefore, if you want the public to think about entering your store, you need to make sure that it looks like you are prepared.

The simplest - and perhaps most effective - way to seem prepared is through extensive signage both inside your store and outside. You should make sure there are notices for customers about what you are doing to protect them.

Whether you have signs directing customers in a predetermined route around the store or have arrows toward a cleaning station with alcohol-based hand sanitiser for anyone who enters, your footfall will undoubtedly increase if you provide people with a clear sense that you are working to create a COVID-secure environment.

For a barber or nail bar, this could also take the form of a disclosed waiting area for customers who turn up early for their appointments. For any stores, you can include notices about changes to regulations and advice to keep your staff and customers informed. For instance, masks have recently been cited as key equipment to limit spread. By letting your customers know you endorse the use of masks, they will already start to feel safer.
 

2. Social distancing:


It’s a phrase that was only mentioned in scientific circles before the lockdown, but now it has become a key part of normal vernacular. Social distancing has been a present notion from the start of this pandemic, with the 2-metre rule being a common topic at Downing Street’s daily briefings. 

Social distancing is something that can only be achieved with the help of our first point (signs) and is best coupled with a few bits of advice that we will come onto later (for instance, it is easier for your staff to be socially distanced from customers with protective screens at checkouts/reception desks).

For some stores, this will take the appearance of a marked route around the shops with arrows, similar to what can be seen in supermarkets. For other businesses, you might have to consider setting a limit to the number of customers you allow into your store at any one time. The pharmacy near me, for instance, only allows two customers in at once - and, as the public have safety at the top of their mind - most people stick to these rules.

Organising a pre-booking system if you run a gym, barber or nail bar is also recommended. Then, you can make sure you won’t be overwhelmed by too many customers at any one time. 
 

3. Extensive cleaning:


I know we’ve already mentioned the use of hand gels at shop entrances to entice customers into the store, but making sure you and your staff are seen cleaning surfaces in your business is a great way to inspire trust. People are more hesitant than ever and so, to make the public feel at ease, a quick wipe of a handrail is a simple way to make sure no one gets ill from being in your shop. 

We don’t need to tell you this, but reminders never hurt anyone! If you own a gym or barber or nail bar, it is best to clean all your equipment between customer-use. This might include wiping down any chairs customers have sat on. 

If you own a store with shopping trolleys or baskets, make sure you have products that can be used to clean any handles. Better yet: leave the equipment at your storefront so customers can physically sanitize the shopping baskets themselves!
 

4. Protective screens/sneeze guards:


In addition to masks, face coverings and plastic visors, protective screens - also known as sneeze guards - are now a key piece of equipment you should have installed in your business. 

The most effective places to have these installed are locations where you are likely to have the most staff-customer and customer-customer interactions. You will have already seen sneeze guards being used at supermarket checkouts, where staff are behind a transparent screen - away from customers. 

But you shouldn’t limit the use of protective screens simply to checkouts - if you want to appear more prepared than your competitor then utilise them in other ways too! For example, if you own a gym, barber or nail bar, place a screen between each workstation so you can work with customers next to each other without them feeling anxious.

Better still, purchase a translucent protective screen to give your clients added privacy! Here at The Plastic People, we offer transparent and translucent protective screens in a range of sizes and thicknesses. They can also be mounted on wheels to easily be manoeuvred between machinery and/or workstations. 

We recently dropped our prices to make them affordable for all businesses! For as little as £64 (+p&p), you can install a cut-to-size sneeze guard from us - and create a COVID-secure environment that the public is willing to enter. You will stand out from your competitors through the safety precautions you take! Find out more here!

Protective screens are wipe-clean and easy to look after. They are also incredibly durable and shouldn’t need to be replaced any time soon. Acrylic plastic is 10 times stronger than glass overall so it’s a no-brainer!
 

5. Natural Ventilation:


By now, we all know how dangerous enclosed spaces can be for the spread of coronavirus, hence the introduction of face masks and use of protective screens which prevent the spread of saliva and other fluids. Another key tactic to protect both your staff and customers is making sure there is good ventilation in your business. 

Now, we are not all made of money and we can’t simply go out and purchase air purifying machines and the like, but ventilating your store can be done for free! Thankfully, we are in the summer months of the year now and we have had fairly good weather recently so natural ventilation is even easier than usual!

Try to keep as many doors and windows open as possible in your store so air can travel through your space without being trapped. This is a natural filtering system and is a free way to keep your business that little bit safer. 

If you operate an air-conditioning system inside, it might be best to put it on hold unless the heat becomes particularly unbearable as they recycle the air inside your store and so could result in further spreading of the virus. 
 

6. Being social media-savvy:


Social media marketing is a scary term for many small businesses out there. It takes a lot of time to build, monitor, and maintain an online presence, but it is not something that should be overlooked. 

We’ve talked extensively about how to make your business appear COVID-secure to passers-by and customers inside the store, but if you are not sharing your efforts online then you are missing a large audience who could be potential visitors to your business. 

This tip works for any business - no matter if you are a barber or the local sweet shop, posting to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about how safe your environment is will encourage more people to either book a visit or turn up. 

Do not let your efforts go unnoticed. It’s been an expensive few months for many businesses worldwide and getting back on your feet will only take more time and money. If you are going to great and necessary lengths to make your customers feel safe, then, shout about it!

Post pictures of your protective screens to reassure customers. Talk about how you are tackling social distancing conundrums in your store to show people that you are taking this seriously. Use your phone to shoot a short video of the new one-way track that guides customers around your store so they know where to go even before turning up!

This is also a great way to stump your competitors and leave them trailing behind. If they aren’t making good use of socials - beat them to it!
 

7. Working with your staff:


So far we are focused on your public presence. The main driving force behind increasing footfall is, of course, to be appealing to the public. Nonetheless, if you are truly committed to creating a COVID-secure environment and want to push even further, you need to work with your colleagues. 

If your staff do not feel safe working in your store, then customers have a high chance of feeling the same way. If your staff look hesitant or unwilling to help because your store is not clean enough or you haven’t put social distancing measures in place, customers will recognise this and are likely to leave. After all, you have a duty of care for your staff and customers and alike. 

The simplest way to go about making sure your staff feel safe is by talking to them. What measures do they want to see be put in place in the store? They are the ones walking the shop floor all day, so do they have a good idea of what limit to put on the number of customers? Do they have the right equipment to stay safe? Do they want more protective screens installed for when they cut a customer's hair or work on their nails?

We got through lockdown because, as a country, we banded together. Now is not the time to stop working closely with those around you, but to continue. Talk to your staff and come up, together, with an ultimate plan to keep your business COVID-secure. 


So there you have it, our in-depth guide to creating a COVID-secure business that will help you increase footfall and customership. 

If you have any other tips you want to share with us, why not get involved in the conversation on social media? Tweet us @barkstonplastic or message us on Facebook or Instagram.

We here at The Plastic People take safety extremely seriously which is why the protective screens we offer are priced so affordably! Get in contact with our team at service@theplasticpeople.co.uk to find out more and remember to share pictures with us of your new and improved store once you have your sneeze guards installed!
 
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