COVID-19 or Coronavirus has become a global epidemic. Schools are shutting down, people are working from home, and we're asked to stay 6-10 feet away from other people. More than anything, people want to know your coffee shop is a safe, uncontaminated place. Austin Public Health (APH) has placed restrictions on restaurants that plan on staying open. Even if your business is outside of Austin, Texas, their restrictions are good practice for keeping your coffee shop clean and safe.
How You Can Slow the Spread of COVID-19
Some of these suggestions are restrictions from APH, some are just good practices for keeping your establishment safe from Coronavirus.
1. Promote Your Drive-Thru
Coffee shops have a major advantage when they utilize their drive-thrus. Not only do customers prefer to get their coffee like this normally, it's the best option for those practicing social-distancing. Because of the limited contact your employees have with your customers in a drive-thru, it's the perfect solution to avoid contamination.
If you want to learn more about opening and operating a drive-thru for your coffee shop, read this article.
2. Offer Curbside Pick-up
Recently, many grocery stores and restaurants have offered curbside pickup. This can be done by allowing customers to order online or over the phone. You could post your menu on your social media or website. This shows your customers you care about their safety and efforts in social distancing.
3. Make Hand Sanitizer Readily Available
Put large containers of hand sanitizer in your store for customers or the public to use. Keep the hand sanitizer somewhere it's easily accessed. This is a regulation from Austin Public Health. For hand sanitizer to be effective against COVID-19, it needs to be at least 60% alcohol. Of course, the best defense against the virus is washing your hands with soap and warm water but, that’s a much more time-consuming option. Hand sanitizer is quick, it takes up little space, and it’s inexpensive. It’s your best option.
4. Keep Disposable Products Out of Reach
Usually, disposable things like spoons, napkins, and straws are kept in the open for customers to take at will. This can cause a lot of contamination. The best way to eliminate this is to keep these products behind the counter, only given out by gloved employees.
5. Restrict Personal Cups
Starbucks has begun restricting the use of personal cups. They've done this because of the danger of contamination from foreign cups. Don’t risk your baristas’ health by allowing them to come into contact with foreign containers. Restrict the use of personal, refillable cups brought in by customers.
6. Offer Mobile Payment
Cash and change carry germs and viruses more than almost anything else we touch. The average dollar bill has hundreds of species of microorganisms living on it, according to TIME Magazine. Try offering a discount for people using Apple Pay or Google Pay. This gives your customers an incentive to go contact-less with their payment, leaving less room for contamination.
7. Increase Sanitation Measures
We know you keep your coffee shop clean but, with Coronavirus concerns, it's more important than ever to stay clean and safe. You can do this by using disinfectant wipes to wipe down frequently-touched surfaces like counters, screens, and doorknobs. The APH says to do this every hour.
8. Reduce or Remove Indoor Seating
COVID-19 can stay active on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours, according to the CDC. Some restaurants have completely removed their indoor seating. By doing this, you can reduce the amount of social contact people have. Promote your to-go, curbside pickup, and drive-thru options through social media, your website, and physical signage. This way you won't lose business by not offering indoor seating. If your coffee shop has couches, make sure to disinfect them. Soft surfaces hold bacteria and viruses more than hard surfaces.
If you do choose to keep some indoor seating, move the tables farther apart and have fewer chairs at each one. This will create more distance between people, leaving less room for contamination.
9. Don't Allow Sick Employees
The APH has a regulation disallowing employees coming to work with fevers over 100.4°F. Consider having a thermometer in your store to check employees for fevers when they come in for their shifts (sanitize it with alcohol between uses). It's easy to be frustrated with sick employees but, now more than ever, it's incredibly important not to allow anyone sick to work. This way, it'll be much harder for your store to be contaminated. Think of it like this: you'll lose more business if your store is contaminated with COVID-19 than if you're slightly understaffed for a few days.
10. Post Your Precautions
Another APH regulation is to post signage describing your efforts to keep your customers safe. Print out exactly what you're doing to slow the spread of COVID-19, laminate it, and hang it on your door. Another way to bolster the confidence of your customers is to post your precautions on your websites and your social media. Your customers want to know they're safe coming to your coffee shop.
Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a dangerous disease that has caused a global panic. In the midst of this panic, your customers still want coffee. Offering other options for them to enjoy your coffee shows your customers that you care about their well-being. That's what inspires them to come back.
Write a comment about what you're doing to slow the spread of Coronavirus in your coffee shop!