Signs and procedures for continued social distancing
We are going through the best of times and the worst of times. While some retailers are shutting their doors for good, many spa businesses have been going gangbusters. You’re providing a healing haven at home for people dealing with stress and fear.
The need to socially distance will impact retail sales for months, maybe years, to come. In the meantime, embracing space, disinfecting, compulsive handwashing and masks are the new normal. This is the perfect time to take excellent care of your customers. People want to feel appreciated and know their needs are respected.
According to Jean Pierre Lacroix, president of SLD, a strategic retail design consulting firm, how you’ll do after the pandemic will have a lot to do with how your company is supporting your community right now. Your social responsibility will factor strongly into future sales. Lacroix, a strategic thinker and futurist, says visibility and customer support scored almost as high as safety in customer surveys.
If you have an outside sign plus information on your website that shows what you’re doing to support the community — perhaps gifts to local charities, food banks and front-line workers — people will remember your store as stepping up during a tough time.
Many spa retailers are counting on their websites to let people know what they’re doing to take care of their customers regarding COVID-19, but brick-and-mortar customers also need a strong visual message as they drive up. Put a little money behind this and make a sign that is at least 22 by 28 inches. Each letter should be at least 2 inches tall to be seen from inside a car. If it is laminated or vinyl on corrugated plastic, it will last through rain. Keep wording simple, such as:
We respect and care about you.
Please wear a mask and keep at least 6 feet apart.
Call us right now at 123-456-7890 to order for contactless delivery. We’ll take your credit card over the phone and pop the merchandise in your trunk.
Another sign idea:
Shopping for a hot tub? If you see a STOP sign, please wait until someone comes out the door. We are making sure everyone is taken care of and has a safe space to shop. If you see a Green GO sign, come on in!
Of course, if you install the temporary Stop/Go signs, you’ll need to walk people to the door to turn the sign around. But it’s a good way to connect, and say hello and goodbye to customers.
David Issacs, owner of Issacs Pools & Spas in Johnson City, Tennessee, started doing outside pickups of smaller merchandise and water tests in mid-April. While he doesn’t sell products on his website, he has told his customers to call “and we’ll come out to your car.” He wanted to make sure his customers in both locations felt comfortable bringing their water samples to the stores for free testing. While it can be a drain on his employees’ time, it’s been worth the effort. Customers have told him repeatedly how much they appreciate the complimentary water testing.
The outside drop-off has been successful, but doesn’t produce immediate results. For customers who were a little less patient, he had to figure out how to reduce anxiety about being inside the store for any length of time. To solve the problem, he created a waiting aisle with blue taped stripes marked 6 feet apart on the carpeted floor. Stanchions on one side of this new aisle kept people in place, and a new floor-standing directional sign told them which way to go once other customers left the store.
If you have online ordering, consider offering same-day pickup. If that’s not possible, send several emails over two weeks to your existing customers or postcards to everyone telling them to call in for their chemicals and spa accessories. Explain that you will deliver to their car as soon as they call the store from the parking lot.
Customers will appreciate your extra effort to make them feel safe and cared for. For those who don’t wear masks, don’t want to be told what to do and feel comfortable coming into your store — so be it. Your staff can wear masks, and should even now, especially if under a city or state mandate to do so, to keep them safe. Do what you can to honor your customers, your staff, yourself and your community. It’s good karma and good business.