How are businesses adapting to the new normal?
As businesses across the country begin to reopen, a myriad of new problems have presented themselves. How do you ensure customers and employees adhere to social distancing measures? Are you able to ensure the safety of anyone that enters your place of business? How do you approach customers who neglect to wear a mask?
Like many of you, we at Business First Network have begun the tentative process of returning to this semi-normal world. We’ve decided to put together this blog, outlining the various ways in which we’ve seen businesses manage the obstacles of reopening.
Our CEO, Michael Osborne, hoped to get a long overdue haircut from one of his local barbers. He found that the barbers he went to were ensuring social distancing by asking that only two customers remained in the premises at any one time; one having their hair cut, and another waiting. Obviously this will limit the amount of business that this barbers can do, but it was a necessary restriction as lockdown measures were eased.
As many of you will have seen in restaurants and other places of business, one way to increase the amount of customers you can accommodate, is by putting Perspex dividers between customers as they eat or avail of your services.
Furthermore, as Michael entered the barbers, he was asked if he could produce and wear a mask – a request that is likely to be extremely common, with the Northern Irish Assembly about to announce that masks are a legal requirement in shops. Michael had unfortunately forgotten his, but instead of turning him away, the barbers had turned this into a business opportunity, and gave him the chance to buy one for just £1.
One of the industries producing the most varied responses to reopening requirements, is the hospitality industry. Restaurants in particular have had to consider many issues they have never before experienced.
One such issue is that of menus. How do they allow customers to view their menu, one after the other? Many restaurants are simply sanitising menus after each use, and while this may be the most conventional approach, it is time consuming.
We have experienced some unique ways of approaching this problem, two of which stand out. The first way is that of using a unique QR code that customers can just scan with their smartphone, and it instantly brings the menu up on their phone. This means that no physical menus need to be handed out at all.
Perhaps my favourite way of dealing with this issue, was by a small independent restaurant. They were operating a reduced, simplified menu as they tried to return to full swing, and they had printed this menu on the back of a business card, that customers could keep and
take away. This allowed the restaurant to have potentially hundreds of people spreading word of their business to their friends and family.
One coffee shop we have visited is ensuring customers spend as little time in the shop as possible, by encouraging people to order their coffee online before they come in to collect it. This is a simple improvement or adaptation in theory, but if you haven’t got the infrastructure or know how to quickly integrate an online ordering process it may not be a feasible option.
Ultimately, if you have the capacity to introduce an e-commerce aspect to your business, it will aid your ability to adapt to the changing nature of business operation vastly. This is the direction the world of business has been moving towards for some time, the COVID-19 pandemic could well be a catalyst for it.
One of our employees recently visited an escape room, a business you would have thought would have difficulty following the necessary requirements to operate effectively.
The staff at the escape room requested that our employee stayed in his car when he arrived, and called to say he had arrived. At this point, he was asked to put on his mask and wait for an escape room employee to come out, whereupon he would be escorted into the building. This eliminated any potential mingling in a waiting room with people outside of his group.
Another industry that has had to make drastic changes to their operations recently, is the cinema industry. With the filmmaking industry coming to an absolute standstill, and major films having their release dates postponed, cinemas have had to come up with innovative ways of coping.
Many independent cinemas and cinema chains have been screening classic films in an attempt to lure customers back to the big screen experience. For the most part, it seems to be working, as another of our employees visited his local cinema last week.
They’ve also ensured social distancing is maintained, by limiting audience numbers, and ensuring that there are empty seats beside those that end up booked out.
Selling property at this moment in time is going to be an uphill struggle, not least because you can’t really invite people into your house or building to actually view it.
One way in which estate agencies are circumnavigating this problem is by offering ‘virtual tours’ to prospective buyers. Although this is never going to compare to actually being in the house, it allows buyers the chance to see properties in more detail than in a brochure or on
a website. It may encourage some people to maintain their interest, and as that interest develops you may be able to work out a way in which they could view the property.
Conclusion and CTA
As the world adapts to this brand new way of life, so too do businesses both small and large. The ways in which business owners are finding creative solutions to their problems is extremely encouraging, and we at Business First Network are extremely fascinated by them.
If you’d like to speak to an expert about how you can help your business adapt to the changing needs of business operation, then why not give us a call on 0800 470 4711, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.