If your company has survived the Covid-19 virus so far, you are one of the many fortunate business owners. The date the nation was looking forward to, for reopening, May 15, 2020, has arrived. Today, many businesses across the country are opening their brick and mortar companies to the public again, under stringent rules. Unfortunately, many business owners focused on the necessities of getting back to business and were less focused on the “what ifs” of re-opening their businesses.
Reopening means no more than ten people in the business at one time, maintaining the social distancing standards of keeping staff and customers six feet apart from each other. The necessity to wear masks and gloves, and in some cases, business owners are taking the extra step of taking temperatures at the door. Many businesses are required to keep a detailed record of every person that they come in contact with during the business day. While all of these measures are good steps to take, one cannot prepare for asymptomatic customers, or even staff, to show up to the business, passing all precautionary tests with flying colors.
What’s more, how many business owners took the time to research and fully understand what it means if their business is found to have made contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus? In our experience, not many. In fact, many business owners are focused on profit vs longevity, making them ill-prepared for the consequences of being uninformed. So what does the process look like when a business is found to have a positive contact?
- A contact tracer is dispatched to investigate the spreading threat the business poses (does the company fall into a high-risk spreader category), and is responsible for obtaining a list of everyone who came in contact with the business, employees, and business owners, during the infection possibility timeframe.
- Everyone who came into contact with the business, owners, employees, customers, visitors, and more are contacted and interviewed, as well as advised to get tested for coronavirus.
- The business owner, employees, customers, and everyone that came in contact with the business is put on a precautionary quarantine. This means the business is completely shut down and the lives of the employees, business owners, customers, visitors, and anyone else that had contact with the business is essentially halted.
- After all the data is gathered, tests are taken and results received, it is then determined who, or where, the “spread” of the virus originated from, at which point appropriate action is taken in order to “contain” the outbreak.
What many business owners do not bank on is the stigma of being connected to the coronavirus in the age of social media and a press and media that is looking to break the next huge Covid-19 story. While the powers that be try to keep the information about the spread discrete, and obey HIPAA laws, individuals, as well as the press and media, have no such respect for the situation.
Investigative reporters are doing what they do best in digging up the real story and reporting it. Meanwhile, an extra cautious public will not take long to connect the dots between the few places that they visited in a particular time frame if they are taking the virus seriously. Customers who were once friendly can become quite hostile if faced with a quarantine during a time in which every penny they make counts. When one steps between the lively hood and well-being of another, it is best to be highly aware of how quickly the tables can turn.
So, how can you, as a business owner, protect your best asset, your business. Our checklist below will walk you through the process.
- Consult with an attorney immediately about the possible courses of action the public can take against you, the business owner, and/or your staff in terms of negligence charges that led to them being exposed, or infected with the coronavirus. Having a well put together legal strategy is essential.
- It is essential to find out if your business/industry is categorized as a “high risk” spread threat and what this means for your business from both an insurance and liability stance.
- Draw up a detailed consent form with your attorney that lays out the fact that your customers are doing business with you at their own risk, and they will not hold you, your employees, or any associates responsible for contracting the virus. This should be done especially if you are in a high-risk industry, or business.
- Create an airtight coronavirus spread prevention system and keep excellent records of how often your business is cleaned and sanitized, what was cleaned, and where. While this may seem like a strenuous task, if it comes down to being dragged into a court battle, this could literally save your business. This should include hiring a professional-grade janitorial company that specializes in sanitation. You should bring on a professionally trained cleaning team on staff that is constantly cleaning and sanitizing your business during the day. Create a clear and concise plan of how you interact with the public and how the public is to interact with you and behave in your place of business.
- Install security cameras, the ability to show footage of your business properly being cleaned, coronavirus protocols being followed properly by your staff, and most of all the actions that the public is taking while inside your place of business. This protects and puts the ball back in your court as a business owner. Whatever you can do to show you took an empowered stance to stop the spread in your business will help you.
- Make coronavirus testing mandatory for your staff and partners that come into close contact with your business. If you can get your hands on antibody tests that prove immunity, this is even better.
- Be transparent and make information available both verbally and in writing about how you are combating the virus within your business. Make your coronavirus safety plan clear via social media, newsletters, pamphlets, and posters within your business and more.
- Have an emergency plan in place should the infection of an employee or customer occur.
- Take an honest look at your business model and decide if you have an appropriate business model for a Covid-19 world. Research your options such as going virtual, selling your business to a bigger and more capable company that can properly take care of your employees and customers. If this is not possible, do not underestimate things like the value of your client list and/or equipment to another business, or company.
- Determine if the risk of opening your business to customers right now is worth it. Do you stand to lose more than you could possibly gain? How long can you hold out without in-store customers? Can you shift some of the day to day activities that happen inside of your business outdoors, in the sunlight, where scientific research is showing the virus has a lower probability of survival?
- Lastly, how can you innovate your company and/or industry for the Covid-19 era of life?
We hope that our consultant-based tips and observations can help you create a healthier and stronger business that stands the test of time.
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings