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Written by John Clarkson
on March 18, 2020

Like me, you may have received many emails from companies giving reassurance that they are still open for business and are taking additional measures to keep everyone safe in these extraordinary times.

You may have sent one of these emails out too - if you have a customer email list it is definitely something to consider.

Some Practical Steps

However, there is a reasonable chance that it will be lost in the noise. So taking some visible and practical steps is another approach to reassure your customers and your staff. Here are some suggestions:


  1. Clean, clean and clean – and ensure that your customers know that you are doing this.
  2. Communicate - Perhaps put a small sign on every surface and table to show the time it was last cleaned, or a visible surface-cleaning timetable on the wall with a tick box to show customers that it has been done.
  3. Touch - Think about the objects that customers touch that may not be cleaned often – for example the pen or clipper for the loyalty card, the menus, salt and pepper shakers and sugar bowls. Don’t use shared water jugs, always a clean one per customer/table. Perhaps it's even time to consider enabling pay-wave again.
  4. Notices – do you have a prominent notice asking customers not to enter if they have a fever or cough? Do you also have a large notice asking staff not to enter if they have any suspicion they are unwell?
  5. Updates - Have you updated your website and social media pages to reassure customers and show them that you are taking their safety seriously?
  6. Planning - Think about contingency plans if you cannot obtain some essential supplies or services - what alternatives can you use?
  7. Cross Train - Similarly what will you do if staff cannot work for a period of time – can you cross-train staff to perform other duties now?
  8. Communication Plan - Consider a communication plan if COVID-19 is associated with your business.
  9. Food Safety - if you haven’t already then read MPI’s guidelines here: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-food-safety/
  10. Staff Training - It is a good time for additional staff training; particularly around recognising the symptoms of COVID-19, hand-washing procedures (20 seconds!), keeping clothes and equipment clean, ensuring that protective equipment is used correctly and all food on display is covered.
  11. Social Distancing - Try to maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others.
  12. Layout - It might be a little extreme to remove all the customer seats and furniture from your business as Starbucks have done, but customers may be more likely to visit if you can manage to provide tables that are a couple of metres apart.
  13. Waiting area - If you provide take-away food is there somewhere you can provide for customers to wait that helps provide personal space?
  14. Food Delivery - Consider using a food delivery service so your customers can still enjoy your food from their home.


If you haven’t already then check out the government’s wage subsidy package here https://workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/covid-19-support.html.

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