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June 10, 2020

COVID-19 “hibernation” is over — albeit in varying degrees, depending on where you live. Although most retail, restaurant, and hotel chains are eager to reopen, many consumers remain wary.

As you work to rebuild your business, it’s important to not only foster a food safety culture, but also share your health and safety protocols with the public.

Say It Loud & Say It Proud

In a recent survey from Rakuten Ready, consumers cited “frequent and open communication” as the most important factor in whether they feel safe visiting local businesses. That means adopting new health and safety routines isn’t enough to bring customers back. If you don’t execute a robust health and safety communication strategy, they might not know that your establishment is safe to visit.

To successfully reopen your business, implement these tips for effective health and safety communication.

1. Use all the communication channels available.

The public consumes content in a wide variety of formats, so reach them often and everywhere. While your previous messages might have focused on services you continued to provide, such as curbside pickup or delivery, you now want to underscore that you have health and safety top of mind as you reopen.

Your health and safety communication strategy could include:

  • Email/newsletter outreach.
  • Posts and videos on social media channels.
  • Postcards mailed to homes in your defined service area.
  • Reminder messages sent with purchase or reservation confirmations.
  • Signage on your location’s door and in the windows.
  • Posted daily logs/checklists of tasks employees are doing at each location.
  • Media outreach to local and/or leading industry publications.
  • Fliers that you include with delivery orders to entice them to enjoy in-person service.
  • Blog posts that detail your new processes.

2. Make your messages consistent & authentic.

Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes: You know all the precautions you’re taking, but they don’t. That’s why you don’t want to inadvertently belittle how they feel (It’s time to leave your house!”) or gloss over the details (“We’re following all recommended sanitation procedures.”) Instead, acknowledge their potential anxiety and describe in detail the steps you are taking to ensure their safety.

When it comes to health and safety communication, it’s best to show, not tell. Post pictures of your employees wearing masks and wiping down surfaces. Publish a short video that shows the behind-the-scenes work you’ve done to get your establishment ready. Host a livestream, where you walk them through your new policies and procedures.

3. Make sure you’re following through.

Nothing will send customers running faster than seeing a violation of rules. So, make sure your employees do what you say they will. To help your practices match your rhetoric, invest in employee training and commitment.

This is a time when you don’t want to clean subtly. Customers want to see your efforts with their own eyes.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have hand sanitizer available as customers enter and throughout the store?
  • Are you promoting social distancing through the placement of tables, queuing practices, and occupancy numbers?
  • Are employees wearing masks and actively wiping down surfaces? (Think counters, credit card readers, light switches, door handles, menus…anything customers are regularly touching.)
  • Have you posted and explained your protocols for waiting in line or trying on merchandise?

Use This Opportunity to Polish Your Reputation

We’re often unsure of what consumers crave. But following the pandemic, there’s no doubt: They’re hungry for effective health and safety communication.

To establish your business as a leader with both new and returning customers, implement an effective health and safety communication strategy that highlights your new processes as competitive differentiators.

Wondering how to verify you’re “practicing what you preach?” Discover our health and safety audit checklists that come with a best-in-class mobile auditing app and layered reports that reveal key insights.

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