Keeping workers and customers during tough business climate

Businesses across the country continue to suffer the harsh blows delivered by the coronavirus pandemic. As numbers begin to creep up, entrepreneurs are continuing their efforts to keep their doors open as well as their employees and customers safe. As the third summer with COVID creeps in, owners now have a better handle on their … Continued The post Keeping workers and customers during tough business climate appeared first on New Pittsburgh Courier.

Keeping workers and customers during tough business climate

Businesses across the country continue to suffer the harsh blows delivered by the coronavirus pandemic. As numbers begin to creep up, entrepreneurs are continuing their efforts to keep their doors open as well as their employees and customers safe. As the third summer with COVID creeps in, owners now have a better handle on their business as well as the steps needed to keep it thriving.

For some businesses, the pandemic meant the end of a dream. For others, COVID provided an opportunity to rebuild and rebrand. Minique Rice, owner of the Sugar Parlor, a hair removal studio, was not deterred by the pandemic; however, it did cause a shift in how the business prepared for its client base. Keeping the business afloat was a main priority through safety and prevention.

“Because we are in the service industry where you have to actually come in person to receive services our workflow pretty much stayed the same. However, what changed was the preparation. We had to implement safety measures like checking temps and doing questionnaires to ensure that everyone stays safe,” said Rice. “This was something to get used to but because it created comfort knowing everyone that enters is safe it was something that the team welcomed openly.”

As masks became a part of everyday life, business owners were faced with a new challenge. Aside from keeping staff and customers COVID-free, employees were also charged with building and maintaining meaningful relationships with established patrons and newcomers. Despite the mask’s ability to help slow the spread, it also caused less face time with the clientele.

“The other thing is now the masks that are required to be worn causes a barrier. So, our team has had to get creative and intentional about truly building those connections despite the hindrance. It’s imperative we connect with our clients due to the nature of the service we provide. They have to trust us to feel comfortable and my team has done a great job at that,” said Rice.

Some businesses choose to use the pandemic as a time to rebuild. Allowing for a complete revitalization of staff, operations and functionality, business were able to pause and take time to restructure and even pivot.

“The decision to revamp was honestly made a long time ago. I didn’t expect to do it during a pandemic obviously. However, it was something I have always planned to do. I just needed it to be the right time. We actually started our renovation before the pandemic. Everything was then halted when the pandemic actually hit. Looking back, mothering was really right at that time like I thought it was,” said Rice. “Things weren’t really going well before it was halted. So, once we had that window of opportunity it was only right [that] we proceeded with what we initially started. Everything fell into place with all the right people and it just went from there. It just all happened.”

Employees help to complete any small business. Yet, the pandemic caused a major shift for workers across many sectors. Low pay, high stress and the instability of the job market created an atmosphere for employees to jump ship. Fear was also a catalyst for many employees leaving their companies. However, to maintain employees, one business owner suggests understanding as one of the ways to keep valued employees in-house.

“I would say the biggest thing would be to listen to your customers and listen to your team. Understand what the concerns are and whatever you can do to create a sense of comfort, do it. You have to start with listening first though. People are afraid and for good reason, so if you can ease their concerns then people will be willing to come to work or come to support,” said Rice.

Work-from-home options also helped employees to feel valued as the pandemic forced a new way of viewing employment. As virtual school, caregiving and cases ramped up, employers who were able to provide workers options that fit the ever-changing landscape of everyday life saw a boost in both morale and productivity. This led to a larger retention of employees for some businesses.

“I think the other side of this is lots of us have gotten comfortable being home working. Especially knowing we can be just as productive if not more. So, I think in this case finding a way to create balance between the two when possible would be a good way to ease people back in,” said Rice. “So, thinking of creative ways to make it rewarding to come to work. Events, company paid lunch, contests, or simply motivating and encouraging people to get up and out by reminding them it’s healthy to get out of the house.”

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