In light of the current coronavirus situation, we would like to reassure our customers of the steps we are taking as a business to help our staff and our customers through this difficult time.
We’re looking after our staff
- We’re keeping all our staff up-to-date with the latest public health guidance.
- We’ve issued all our engineers and sales team with hand sanitiser and instructed them to sanitise their hands before entering a shop. It would greatly help them if they can have access to your hand washing facilities if required.
- Our sales team will continue their visits but are putting down their order books and simply lending their support. They will be a familiar face over the next few days and weeks to reassure you and offer help and guidance. You never know, you might even get them to do a shift!
We’re looking after our customers
We’ve put together some useful hints and tips that might help limit the spread of coronavirus and reduce the financial impact on your business:
- Encourage regular hand washing and ensure facilities are available, including plenty of paper towels, hot water, hand soap and sanitiser.
- Remove condiments, napkins, chip forks and any other items that may be touched by customers from the tables and the counter.
- While there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted through food, it’s still possible for it to stay on surfaces for several days so sanitise tables, handrails and door handles regularly and remove any unnecessary furniture like bollards, outside tables and chairs.
- Increase ventilation by opening doors and windows or adjusting the air conditioning.
- Implement social distancing wherever possible. For example, if you have a restaurant, leave a table empty between customers.
- Encourage customers to tap and pay where possible but if you are taking cash, dedicate one member of staff to this role. Ensure they are wearing gloves, which should be changed regularly.
- Allow customers to wait outside while their food is cooking. Better still, introduce a click and collect service or a delivery with the option of contactless delivery so food can be left at the front door.
- Keep customers informed of the action you are taking to reduce the risk of exposure, the fact the virus cannot be contracted via food and remind them of the positives – that fish and chips is a nutritious, comforting dish or your hygiene rating.
- Provide customers with links to reputable resources so they can get the answers to any questions they may have. Websites like Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland are great ones to recommend.
- Ensure staff contact details are up to date and create an easy way to communicate to your entire team quickly – for example via text message, what’s app group or messenger.
- Make sure staff know the signs of coronavirus and if they display any symptoms they should not come to work.
- Know the latest advice when it comes to paying staff sick pay, giving time off and laying staff off as the situation is continually changing. A really useful website, which is updated daily, is ACAS.
- Regularly visit the government website to keep up-to-date with the latest support available to small businesses as new measures such as tax breaks and grants are being announced all the time. As it currently stands, the government has promised:
- – Statutory sick pay relief package for small and medium sized businesses
- – Business Rate Relief for premises with a rateable value of less than £51,000.
- – Funding of £3,000 for all businesses in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief
- – The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to seek additional finance to help with cash-flow pressures
- – Help for those who need a deferral period on their tax liabilities via the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme, plus a dedicated helpline on 0800 015 9559.
- Prepare for closure as this is looking more and more imminent. Speak to your insurance company now and find out if you are covered. It is highly unlikely that you are as most business interruption insurance policies depend on damage to property, and exclude pandemics. But if you’ve purchased a specific add on relating to notifiable diseases, you may be covered.
- Give consideration now to how you can utilise staff and plan any jobs you can get done should you need to close. Again, be aware of your responsibilities to your staff by regularly checking the ACAS website.
- While you are open, think about ways you can help your local community – you need them more than ever right now. Could you offer free kid’s meals for families who might have children off school and are missing out on hot school meals, or arrange a delivery to a local care home? Why not include a small bag of Haribo sweets in with orders? Or encourage customers to come outside of your busiest times with a 10% off offer to reduce customer numbers during peak periods?
- Keep in touch with your community, you’re not the only one going through this. Speak to other shop owners and see if you can get supplies to the elderly and vulnerable by working together.
- If you have solid practices in place, perhaps you are willing to share these with others who may not have the support available.
And when all this is over and we are through the other side, we’ll be sharing a drink with you all!