What to Do if You Must be Near Your Customers
There’s a printed mask available to the general public that says: “if you can read this, then you’re too close.” Even in these turbulent times, the quip is worth a smile. According to many health experts, social distancing (i.e. staying more than six feet from someone) is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, we know it’s not always possible. Sooner or later we’re going to have to squeeze by someone in a crowded shopping aisle, stand uncomfortably close to them in a subway or perhaps reluctantly share a cab on our way to a can’t-miss meeting. While these interactions may potentially put us at risk if we’re not careful, they are by nature transitory. The cab ride is brief, the trip on the subway is but a small fraction of our day and it only takes a few seconds to slip by someone in a store. But what do you do if your entire livelihood depends on close interaction with your customers? Telecommuting may work for an account manager, but it doesn’t help if you’re a hair stylist. Working closely with your customers doesn’t mean you have to throw caution to the wind, however.
Since you can’t be six feet away, you’ll need to rely on your PPE (personal protective equipment) and good habits. Your mask is your first line of defense. Get used to wearing it, make sure it’s in good working order and keep it clean. Whenever possible, encourage your customers to wear a mask during your interactions. Don’t be afraid to explain the importance of masks, why you’re wearing one and how a mask is for both your protection and theirs.
Keep everything as clean as possible. This usually means thoroughly sterilizing your work area between clients. Don’t feel rushed, even if you have another client waiting to see you. Take your time and do a complete job. Put together a checklist that you can refer to. If you’re in a hurry, it’s easy to forget a critical cleaning step. The checklist serves as a valuable reminder.
Try to limit the number of people in the area. Beyond you and your client, does anyone else need to be within six feet of you? If not, make sure they keep their distance. If necessary, have them wait outside until it’s their turn to see you. Don’t think of it as rude or disrespectful to your clients. In fact, you’re showing respect and consideration for them by helping to protect their health.
On a final note, you’re well within your rights to refuse service to a client who appears to be having symptoms. Simply advise them that you can’t see them now and invite them to come back when they’re feeling better. Sure, you might lose a paying client, but you’ll lose considerably more if you end up getting sick or passing on an infection to your other clients.
The advent of the coronavirus has certainly changed the way we do business, but by taking proper precautions it means we can still DO business, even if we can’t always observe strict social distancing.