It is impossible to know how our business is going to look after we get through the current Covid-19 business shutdown. Hopefully, you are staying home helping us to stop the spread. This is tough, but gives us a lot of time to reflect (and worry). I wish I could tell you how this is going to end. We find ourselves in uncharted waters and there is no playbook for us to follow.
Politics aside, there are murmurings in some states that we might be able to re-open our businesses soon. We all want to, but we are heading on a journey without a roadmap. At a bare minimum, our businesses are going to be a whole lot different than they were before we closed.
I think that the bigger picture; bigger than our businesses, politics, and the economy, is that social interaction has indelibly changed. We are all going to be a bit fearful, skeptical of others, and protective of ourselves. The way that we interact with each other and the actions we take in public will be different. Little things, like how we choose items in a supermarket, or how we reach for that door handle, or whether we can hug or shake hands are completely different now.
Nonetheless, life moves forward, and we are going to make the decision of when and how we open for business.
I would be surprised if the business that we had before closure comes back quickly. My clients are planning for a three to six month growing period at the minimum. We are discussing limiting the number of days and hours we are open initially. The latent demand for our services is building, however I feel the least affected services will be ones that we provide for “maintenance”. These would include things like hair, Botox, and maybe nails. Because of the exposure to a lot of public surfaces and heavily breathing people; gym and fitness businesses might be slower to rebound. An interesting side bar (and wishful thinking) is that if we do open in the Summer, our traditionally slow Summer season may be much stronger. Our Guests will more than likely not be traveling, and the opportunity for “stay-cations” and spa days may be an opportunity for promotions.
ISPA has put together a Spa Reopening Toolkit. Here is a link to this well thought out and valuable checklist. (ISPA TOOLKIT). Thank you ISPA.
Additionally, I would encourage you to consider the following and how they are going to impact the opening of your business. We need to re-think how we do everything.
If you open and find out after the fact that an employee or Guest that has been to your spa is infected, what are you going to do? This really tests our business ethics and the true value we have for creating a place of healing. We must increase our focus on the health and safety of our employees and Guests within our workplace. We should know what we as business owners are liable for to provide this. The federal government is working on passing a bill relieve businesses of any liability if they re-open and someone gets sick at the business. Currently, there is some possible level of liability. Will defined and diligent methods of sanitation, screening, etc. perhaps help to shield your business from lawsuits? Please check my Covid-19 page for news articles about this issue.
Intake Forms. What information and waivers should we add to these? Should we require that they all be completed online?
Employment Law. What can you and can’t you do, say, and require of your employees? What if your employees are sick? What if they are not sick but become affected after they have provided services in your business? What if they are afraid to go into a treatment room to provide services? What about their personal hygiene and sanitation processes? Some businesses in Utah are requiring that employee’s temperature be taken when they arrive at work along with a quick screening asking if they have any symptoms or have been exposed to anyone with the virus. Some are even taking a second temperature of their employees during their shift. I have posted information about this on my on our website.
Scheduling. Consider decreasing the number of days you are open and your hours of operation until your business builds. In the past, a Chiropractor client has been able to schedule three clients per hour. Because of the need to sanitize and provide appropriate “Social Distancing”, he now schedules only one client per hour. Some medical practices are taking patient’s temperatures when they arrive using a non-contact thermometer. They are also asked if they have symptoms or have been exposed to anyone with the virus. Medical practices are currently asking patients to wait in their car until the beginning of their appointment. Will it be appropriate to ask that the Guest or patient arrive by themselves and not with friends or children? This is happening now in medical practices.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Will you require that employees use gloves and masks? Are Guests going to be required to wear masks? Where will you place the hand sanitizer, and how much will you have available?
Facility & Equipment. Are you going to keep your relaxation areas open? Are you planning on limiting the number of Guests that can be in there at a time? What about that bowl of nuts and dried fruit? Will that still be available? Are you going to change how your business uses steamers, saunas, steam rooms, and soaking tubs? Are you going to increase the cleaning and service of your HVAC system? Some businesses are currently closing their reception lobbies and waiting areas completely to avoid the possibility of social contact among Guests waiting for their appointment and having them wait outside.
In your retail and reception area, are you going to regularly wipe down the retail products that your Guests pick up to look at? Are you looking into the use of sneeze guards? Is a new procedure needed to define how you accept payment and handle money and credit cards? Will you sanitize payment pads between each Guest?
Are there some services and procedures that cannot be performed if we stringently follow defined social distancing guidelines?
In order to reinforce the trust of your Guests, how will you assure them that this closure has given you the opportunity to make your facility even more comfortable and safe for them? How will you let them know that they can rest assured that your facility will continue to meet the highest of high sanitation and cleanliness standards and that your staff is completely healthy; practicing high levels of personal hygiene?
Are you currently protecting the funds you have? You will need them for your re-launch. Have you communicated with your vendors as to what you can and cannot do financially? They will understand. Also, you may choose to pay some of your employees to use them to keep your business visible and in front of your Guests.
During the period of rebuilding your business, do you have a plan to get back on your feet profit-wise, hang on to your cash, and not pay back all the expenses you deferred during closure too quickly?
Now is the time to plan our re-launch. Envision how your business will be better than it has ever been once you re-open. There will be an ongoing discussion of whether closing our businesses was mitigating an actual risk or a huge overreaction. We will never know the answer. My opinion is to make intelligent choices and let this ugly and devastating virus run its course. I choose to listen to the science and not put myself, my employees, or my Guests at risk.
Let’s agree that it is unlikely that once you do re-open your business is not going to come back instantaneously and that we must consider many issues. Someone is going to open and be the first one to put their toe in the water. Do not be in too big a hurry to re-open. We should be closed for as long as it takes for us to beat this thing. Be safe, be smart, and have another Quarantini.
We are all in the same boat bobbing along a choppy sea. Wellness Capital Management has created a Covid-19 page to post the ever-changing information that we learn regarding federal and state funding and tax issues relative to this crisis. We have been assisting our clients navigate this turbulence and guiding them through the bureaucratic business funding process.
We are all in this together and always here to help you.