Preparing Your Brick-and-Mortar Business for Reopening: A Checklist

As a result of state and local government guidelines, brick-and-mortar businesses are beginning to reopen after being shuttered for weeks or even months. Accordingly, many business owners are shifting to a more positive attitude—one of hope.

Still, some anxiety remains over what the future will bring and what a normal business day will look like. You may be experiencing some uncertainty and confusion over what’s expected of you as a business owner.

To help you get ready, we’ve put together a reopening checklist. It covers the major steps needed to feel comfortable opening up the doors to your store, restaurant, or other place of business.

Arm Yourself With Information

Keep yourself informed of the key recommendations and guidelines about how to keep your business, customers, and employees safe during COVID-19. Be sure to reference the following resources and bookmark them for easy access:

OSHA: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
White House: Opening Up America Again
State and local agencies for COVID-19 guidelines for business reopening

In general, these guidelines contain details on social distancing, crowd limits, the use of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and sanitizing, and other preventative measures to slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. It’s important to note that these guidelines vary depending on your locale, business type, and more. It’s essential to check these guidelines regularly as they may change as new information is discovered.

Determine Changes to Logistics and Traffic Patterns

Evaluate the areas where people interact at your business. Not just customer-to-employee interactions, but also customer-to-customer and employee-to-employee.

See what changes you can make at your business to minimize contact between people, keeping the minimum recommendation of six feet in mind (per the CDC). You may have to:

Behind the counter or in the office, decide what new or additional equipment you might need to purchase to prevent employees from sharing work tools and other handheld items—such as pens, handheld scanners, and calculators. If you can’t prevent them from sharing, make sure you buy disposable gloves to protect employees and your customers.

If you don’t already have a special shopping hour for senior citizens and other high-risk individuals, consider implementing this.

Order Cleaning and Safety Supplies

Determine what your business needs in the store (or front of house), behind the counter, and in the back to help maintain personal hygiene and cleanliness. This may include no-touch garbage cans as well as touchless dispensers for paper towels and soap dispensers.

Additionally, employees and management will likely need PPE items like gloves, goggles, face shields, and face masks. Be sure to refer to the guidelines we listed above to learn about which types of PPE are recommended for different businesses. You also may need to post signage and send out email/text communications to your customers to let them know that they are required to wear their own mask upon entering the premises.

Lastly, you will also want to make sure you have plenty of disinfectants (EPA-approved against viral pathogens) and cleaning wipes on hand.

Update Policies and Procedures

After you have evaluated what changes you’re going to make, you should take a close look at which policies and procedures need updating in order to better protect your customers and employees. Once you have made these changes to your documentation, you will need to ensure that they are communicated effectively to all stakeholders.

Here are some topics to cover:

  • Employee illness policy
  • Changes to customer capacity in store
  • Changes to traffic flow patterns
  • Mask use and other PPE requirements for employees and customers
  • Employee personal hygiene (cough and sneeze etiquette) and hand-washing frequency
  • Procedures for monitoring employees’ health
  • Proper cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting procedures
  • Training documents

Coordinate Employee Attendance

Not all employees will be able to return to work due to their own health concerns or family responsibilities. Make sure that you contact every one and find out who is available. Depending on your business and job roles, you may want to continue to allow telecommuting.

Prepare Employees for the New Normal

For those employees returning to on-site work, address any of their concerns about interacting with customers and staying healthy. Some topics to cover include:

Clean Everything

In the pre-COVID-19 days, it was simple enough to tell employees to clean surfaces and items. However, given the serious nature of the virus, you’ll want to make sure that you show employees how to thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces; what cleaning products to use; and what PPE to wear.

Set up a regular cleaning schedule, whether that’s with a hired cleaning crew or your employees. In addition, determine how many times during the business day your employees will need to clean frequently touched surfaces, such as:

  • Cabinet handles
  • Chairs
  • Counter and table surfaces
  • Door handles and doorknobs
  • Elevator buttons
  • Faucet handles
  • Push plates
  • Light switches and plates
  • Railings
  • Toilet flush levers

Another important object to sanitize regularly is point-of-sale equipment: keyboards, handheld scanners, screens, and payment terminals. This blog post describes how to quickly and safely clean a payment terminal. Remember to only use cleaning products that are EPA-approved against viral pathogens.

The CDC has general recommendations about improving air circulation and air quality in your place of business. This is a particularly crucial area to address since you may have turned off your HVAC system while your business was closed.

Communicate With Customers

Customers will feel more comfortable in your store if they can see the measures you have taken to protect their health. Keep your COVID-19 information simple and clear. Coordinate your messages consistently across your website, social media channels, email communications, and in- store signage.

Here are some topics you’ll want to communicate:

  • When you’re reopening
  • Changes to business operating hours
  • Changes to store capacity
  • Health protection practices (wearing masks, checking employee temperatures, etc.)
  • Mask requirements for customers, if any
  • Changes to in-store traffic flow (e.g. different checkout locations or one-way aisles)
  • New delivery or pickup options

Consider Changes to Checkout and Payment Methods

As customers gradually begin to shop in brick-and-mortar stores again, they may be wary of face-to-face interactions. Consider changing your existing checkout and payment procedures to accommodate cautious shoppers:

  • Although some states have made it illegal to refuse to take cash, it’s something you can think about implementing if it is legal in your state
  • Set up additional checkout areas in the store with wireless terminals to reduce crowding
  • Add payment terminals that support contactless payments (tap-to-pay with cards or mobile wallets on phones), and encourage customers to pay with contactless payment methods through signage

Finally, give shoppers multiple ways to make purchases: buy online with in-store pickup, restaurant takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery. This reduces the number of shoppers and the time spent in the store. To support these alternate shopping methods, offer online payment options, such as accepting orders on your website, over the phone, and with online payment forms.

We Hope These Suggestions Help!

Without question, these are difficult times in which to be running a business. Remember that even as you adjust to different ways of doing business, you’re getting smarter and more resilient.

If you have any questions about making changes to your business and payment processes, contact Fidelity Payment Services at (855)-794-7348, or our Cardknox technology subsidiary at (844) 227-3566. Best wishes for a successful reopening!