Fun and Practical Ways to Reopen Your Business in a ‘Covid-Safe’ Way
If you’re looking for ways to reopen your business safely, we’ve rounded up some of the most amusing ways other companies have done just that. We’ll also be highlighting simple tactics you can use to make sure your franchise is ‘Covid safe’, no matter what kind of business you’re running.
The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t given us much to smile about. But entrepreneurs across the world have been getting creative when it comes to implementing social distancing in their locations, with some pretty amusing results. As many countries, including the UK, prepare to reopen their businesses and franchises, we’ve rounded up some of the best ‘Covid-safe’ strategies that have been put in place across the world.
What is ‘Covid safe’?
‘Covid safe’ or ‘Covid secure’ are two terms coined by the UK government to describe the guidelines for reopening workplaces and businesses. There are eight different guidelines, covering everything from takeaways to warehouses to carrying out work in people’s homes. We’re written a whole article on how to make sure your franchise is ‘Covid secure’, so check that out if you want more detail.
But if you’re short on time, here’s a quick recap. Essentially, businesses must do all they can to help employees and customers observe social distancing and reduce the risk of passing on COVID-19. This could include putting up signs and stickers on the floor to show people how far apart they should be standing and installing screens between staff workstations and places like tills. If you’re a plumber or builder, for example, you should call customers before getting to their home to make sure they’re in another room while you work.
And while it’s a concept we all need to take seriously, there’s no reason businesses can’t also have a bit of fun and be inventive with social distancing. From massive crowns to plush companions, franchises and companies across the world have been putting a smile on their customers’ faces.
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A regal approach
Fast-food franchise Burger King supersized its famous Whopper crowns to keep its customers safe. The huge headpieces, which are six feet in diameter and look a bit more like a sombrero than traditional royal attire, were introduced across Burger King’s locations in Germany as customers were allowed back into its stores. While they don’t quite comply with the UK’s social distancing guidelines (that would require a frankly ridiculous 12-feet-around cardboard crown), the Whopper crowns have certainly helped to spread customers out.
Pool party solutions
You’ve probably seen the video of Maryland restaurant Fish Tales’ approach to social distancing all over your social media. In a move that’s gone pretty viral, the oceanside eatery has introduced ‘bumper tables’ –individual tables on wheels that are surrounded by inflatable inner tubes the size of lorry tyres. The idea is that the unique tables allow customers to enjoy drinks and food together with friends, while making it impossible to cosy up to one another.
Similarly, Café Rothe in Germany has embraced a nautical solution to social distancing. When it reopened its doors, customers were asked to wear hats made of pool noodles. Once again, the obtrusive accessory was designed to stop diners getting too close to each other. This is one solution that’s definitely had mixed reviews though. The decidedly floppy looking flotation devices seem to be more of gesture to remind people to keep apart than a physical barrier (as even the owner admitted to CNN).
A cuddly companion
Some establishments have chosen to make social distancing cute, by putting stuffed toys in seats across their restaurant to remind people to stay apart. Everything from plush pandas to capybara have kept diners across the world company, as eateries begin to reopen.
Other restaurants have chosen a creepier companion for their customers. We’ve spotted restaurants on social media using mannequins or even adult dolls to fill up empty tables and give their premises a better atmosphere. It’s certainly got people talking, but we’re not sure how relaxing a meal would be in the presence of a dead-eyed guest with terrible conversation skills.
While the ideas above have made us smile, there are simpler and more practical ways to enforce social distancing in your franchise. If you’re running a restaurant franchise, take inspiration from Italy’s eateries. Many have installed clear plastic or glass barriers between tables, or even between each guest’s seat, to stop germs spreading between diners. Lots of bars and cafés have also put screens between their servers and customers, or sectioned off their bar using clear partitions so people can still enjoy a drink on their favourite stool.
These methods would definitely help to keep your business ‘Covid secure’ and make sure both customers and staff are safe. If you don’t have the budget to splash out on screens for every table, you could just remove the chairs at every other table (or however many tables you need to enforce social distancing) to stop customers sitting too close together. Just putting up signs might not be enough, as they could be missed or ignored.
If you’re running a retail franchise, or any other franchise that has brick and mortar premises, you will need to put measures in place to protect your customer-facing staff. A screen might be out of your budget, and your franchisor might not be able to offer any help, so get creative. We’ve seen other business put chairs in front of the counter to stop customers getting too close, and others using chairs to give customers goods without hand-to-hand contact. You could also place your card reader on a table in front of the counter so that your staff don’t have to hold it out and get too close to customers.
Signs and floor stickers are also great ways to remind people to stay apart. Your franchisor will be able to provide you with these, or at least offer some guidance about how to implement them. Make sure you’ve also got signs in staff areas like breakrooms and kitchens, as it’s just as important for your employees to social distance from each other as from customers.
Make sure you read up on the official ‘Covid-safe’ government guidelines, which also contain plenty more advice on how you can reopen your business safely.
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Getting back to business
We know you’re eager to get back to business and, in line with the government’s advice, many more franchises across the UK will be able to open their doors throughout June and July. It’s vital you try your best to comply with and promote social distancing in your franchise. Your franchisor should not be leaving you in the dark about how your network is implementing ‘Covid-secure’ measures, so contact them if they haven’t given you any guidance yet. This is a serious matter, and not one you should be left struggling with alone.
If you need advice about anything else in the world of franchising, we’ve got plenty of helpful articles for you to check out. Or if the current circumstances have got you thinking about becoming your own boss, check out our UK franchise directory for more inspiration.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©
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