It’s been coined ‘Freedom Day’, the day we come out of lockdown and businesses are allowed to open their doors again and return to somewhat ‘normal’ trading. Consumers and small business owners have been preparing for months in anticipation.
The preparation leading up to opening your doors is just as important as any other business day throughout the year but given the recent difficult times in lockdown, this can be a make or break situation for small businesses.
To help out, we’ve put together this easy to follow guide to help you get the most from the ‘Freedom Day’ opening trade and beyond, whilst also continuing to follow the Covid safe processes in place.
How to prepare for Freedom Day
While each business is going to need to do its own specific preparations following your State Government Health Guidelines, there are a few general things you can do as a business when reopening, including:
Just because the world is reopening, doesn’t mean Covid-19 isn’t a threat anymore. In order to keep you, your staff, and your customers safe, there are a few simple steps you can take, including:
- Make sure that alcohol-based hand sanitiser is placed at high traffic locations around your store, such as the entrances and exits, cash registers and changing rooms.
- Increase the regularity of cleaning and disinfecting objects that are in regular contact with your staff and customers, such as EFTPOS terminals, handrails, door handles, shopping trolleys, tables, chairs, etc.
- Make sure that staff and customers are encouraged to stick to official social distancing guidelines, such as maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres between people and wearing a mask or face covering. It is important to have adequate signage and floor markings to make this process easier for your customers.
Gone are the days where ‘cash is king’. Recent data from the Australian Payments Network show that in 2021, 1 in 4 businesses are going cashless and since the Covid-19 pandemic, society has preferred contactless payment methods such as digital wallets, QR codes and paywave technologies with nearly 1 in 2 Australians (48%) using their mobile phones to make payments.
Contactless payment systems have become a necessity to cut down physical contact and help reduce the risk of transmitting germs, providing a greater level of reassurance to your customers when paying. To accommodate continued hygiene measures in your business premises, you should consider activating the contactless payments feature on your EFTPOS machine.
To further reduce physical surface interaction, the payments industry in Australia has also introduced a change for contactless payments. The $100 cap for contactless payments has temporarily increased to $200 without the use of a PIN, until 17 December 2021. This may be extended if necessary, based on government advice.
Preparing for the rush
When shopping restrictions are relaxed, businesses should prepare for a rush period when customers exercise their newly returned ability to shop in store.
As is with many things, preparation can make a huge difference. For businesses opening up, it is important to have staff available, trained on any new covid protocols and ready to deal with the expected influx of customers. With the increase in customers, businesses should prepare early and make sure they have enough stock on hand as well as test any store technology after a period of non-use, including charging up your EFTPOS terminal.
For restaurants and other service-based businesses, establishing a booking system can help to manage a rush of reservations, customers’ expectations around availability and help to avoid any disappointment.
There are a variety of tools that can help business owners manage their customer services during this period and temporarily moving to a booking-only system can help to reduce the strain on both staff and infrastructure.
Keeping customers in the loop
If you are making any changes to your business offering post-covid, it’s a good idea to keep your customers up to date and what they can expect. Social media can be a great way to communicate with your customer base and push the importance of the goods and services you offer as well as any exclusive deals.
To make sure your customers know you are truly open for business, you will want to go out of your way to reassure customers that the store is open, covid safe and ready for them. You can do this by posting about it on social media, sending an email blast to your customer database or if you are a service based industry, even calling your clients in advance to book them an appointment.
Another excellent way of communicating vital information, such as opening hours, product offerings and important announcements is via your Google my Business page. This is a free service that allows you to keep your customers up to date and provide important location information via a Google search.
After months of lockdown, many small businesses are now looking forward to getting back to business as normal post-covid lockdown.
By following our guide, you can make sure your business is prepared for that initial ‘Freedom Day’ rush while still keeping staff and customers safe in the process.
Additional Covid-19 Resources: