Happy coffee shop owner at entrance

How you can get back to work post-lockdown

While the first thing on most of the nation’s mind when the easing of lockdown measures was announced was probably the prospect of a long-deserved pint at the local, there are a multitude of things that need to be considered prior to July 4th… particularly for the small business owner. 

For many, reopening may feel a little bit like that first day of a new year in school. Sure, it’s familiar ground, but at the same time, you’re walking into uncharted territory. Over the last few months, businesses have been fed a series of mixed messages, and it can be hard to keep up with the ever-changing rules of a locked-down UK.  

To help bring some clarity and comfort into a confusing time, we’ve had a little think about how small businesses can open up shop again with peace of mind, both for themselves, and most importantly, for their customers. 

Restaurants, pubs and cafes 

One of the biggest things we’ve all missed is unwinding for a meal or a drink at the end of a difficult day. While restaurants, pubs and cafes have been given the all-clear to reopen, it may be more difficult than usual for clientele to relax in these establishments considering the situation we find ourselves in. 

That’s why it’s crucial to step up the hospitality game and to do everything you can to ensure people feel safe when they eat or have a tipple with you. 

It’s often difficult for small businesses to compare themselves with the big guy, but one company to take reopening inspiration from is certainly Pret A Manger. In the run-up to reopening their shop doors, Pret plastered their social media with communication on how they’ll be cleaning their shops, socially distancing their staff and offering a generally improved service. 

You may not have the budget for a campaign like this, but it’s more than possible to let people know what measures you’re implementing. Spread the word on social media, pop up a sign or even write it up on a chalkboard outside. This is also a great way to let people know that you’re back in business. 

Keep your customers informed with information like: 

  • What are you doing in the kitchen to keep staff at a safe distance? 

  • How is the food being prepared? 

  • How often do you clean surfaces? 

You may also want to think about a few practicalities. Normally, you wouldn’t want your customers to feel like they’re in an IKEA but perhaps introducing a one-way walking system could be beneficial. 

Eateries have been opening across Europe, and many of them have rethought the way they showcase their offering and take payment. How? Add a QR code to tables instead of a menu to avoid unnecessary contact and introduce contactless payments for each table.

Finally, don’t forget that a lot of people may still not feel comfortable enough to go out. So it may be worth keeping up the lockdown mindset and offering takeout, delivery boxes or gift cards

You can also take advantage of our remote and contactless payment options to keep your customers happy.

Find out more

Beauty salons and hairdressers 

After two months of hibernation, the UK’s residents have all emerged with longer locks than normal. So salon owners are likely receiving an influx of messages asking (or begging) for an appointment ASAP. While there’s no doubt your appointment diary won’t be empty, there are new government regulations you need to follow when taking bookings. 

Gone are the days where walk-in appointments were allowed. From now on, you’ll need to keep a pristine record of who comes into your salon and when. Make sure that when taking appointments, you space them out properly to give yourself enough time to deep clean equipment, get everything prepared in advance, and most importantly to protect clients from contact with other customers. 

Spacing out your appointments will also make it easier for you to keep a distance and avoid walking around from the front desk to the client chair, to the washing basin. 

The government has also recommended using floor tape or paint to outline where people should stand and walk. If you can, purchasing screens to create barriers between work stations is also a great way to help everyone in your salon feel comfortable. 

Unfortunately, you’ll also no longer be able to offer people a glass of bubbles or tea and biscuits when they’re getting their hair done. That being said, you can keep up the hospitality and hand out water if it’s in a disposable bottle or cup. 

We don’t realise how many touchpoints we have in a salon from the second you walk in, to the second you pay. To minimise this, offer clients a way to select their treatment and to pre-pay it with a remote payments tool before they come in. 

If all your customers don’t feel ready to come in, at-home treatments are a great way to meet them halfway. Just remember that when treating someone at their home, yourself and the client need to be the only people in the room. 

Retail stores 

There are a lot of things retailers can do to keep business ticking along despite the regulations. If there’s anything we’ve learnt from shops reopening across the world, it’s that there is demand. With masses of people queuing to enter their favourite stores, implementing some sort of a queuing system outside your storefront is definitely worthwhile. Take a look at the size of your shop to gauge how many people should enter it at a time. 

When people finally get through your front door, asking them to shop with a basket or a trolly is a technique shop owners have been using to stop people from picking up and touching products they may not be interested in purchasing. It also automatically creates some sort of distance between themselves and others. 

There has been talk of fitting rooms not being opened to the public, and regardless of the decision on this, it could still be something you apply to your business. Instead, make your returns policy longer and offer size guides throughout the shop so customers can find a good fit without having to try anything on. 

With the contactless payment limit rising to £45 from £30 it’s now easier than ever to not accept cash. Contactless payments can also be used to eliminate queues and reduce people’s time spent in your store. 

Shops may be reopening across the nation, but if possible, continuing to offer special shopping hours or deals for NHS staff, the elderly and key workers is more important than ever.

For more tips, tricks and business tips, visit the SumUp blog.

Anna Marie Allgaier