Retail Observer

April 2020

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM APRIL 2020 64 T he best way to avoid getting COVID-19 —more commonly known as coronavirus — is to stay home and steer clear of social interaction. But what does that mean for a small business and the employees that work with you? In-home service contractors have protocols for their team who are out in the field and going into customers' homes. These protocols are about what to do if a customer fails to put away an unruly pet while your tech is working in the home, or what to say and what not to say during conversations with the customer. But how many of us have a protocol pertaining to the new COVID-19 virus? It may seem like an overreaction to some, but it's crucial to prepare so you can show your employees that you're doing everything you can to protect them. Waiting for the infection to arrive before thinking about your approach to the situation could contribute to its outbreak and spread within your business and wider community. Like many viruses, there are things you can do for your employees to help reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. Being proactive will also reduce their risk of contracting the common cold or flu, both of which are spread by cough and sneeze droplets. Here's some insight on what you should do now as a small employer, what you should tell your employees, and how you can modify your business operations to adapt in an evolving situation. OVERALL • Know the signs and symptoms and communicate that to your team. The VA has issued a self-assessment tool that helps you determine if you have the flu, available at Print it out and give it to all of your employees. • Set a policy which requires sick employees to stay home. • Educate your employees on the benefit of washing their hands frequently and properly. This means using hot water and soap, washing thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. If they are in a place where they are unable to wash their hands with soap and water, recommend they use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol and wash their hands at the earliest opportunity. If you can find it in your area, buy enough hand sanitizer to give to your employees insuring each person is equipped to fight getting infected. • Review cleaning procedures in place to regularly disinfect equipment, work stations and the workplace in general. IN THE FIELD • While we all want to be friendly, try breaking with the traditional hand shake and replace it with a smile. • Wearing surgical face masks makes little difference outside of hospital environments as they must be worn and removed correctly, changed frequently and disposed of safely to be effective. Rising demand from the public for protective face masks is also causing shortages for hospitals around the world. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that facemasks be worn by people who show signs of COVID-19 or health workers and caregivers. • Instruct your field techs on what to do if they encounter a customer who is obviously sick. Your bottom line should never come before the safety of your employees when dealing with a public health emergency like the coronavirus. Refusing to make accommodations to protect your team's health is shortsighted. PANDEMIC BUSINESS PLAN • Establish a pandemic preparation and response protocol plan and a process to obtain and implement local public health directives. • Determine to what extent the business can operate in the event of an actual pandemic. • Assess staffing needs, including alternative work locations, overtime agreements, and means for getting the work done. • Assess the effect of a pandemic on suppliers, service providers and customers. BOTTOM LINE It is important to prevent any fear-mongering in an age when there is lots of unreliable news about COVID-19. Keep a pulse on the situation in your area by following reputable sources like the CDC ( and proceed accordingly. COVID-19 AND YOUR BUSINESS S E R V I C E D E P A R T M E N T RO Ralph Wolff, Industry Relations, PSA Certified Service Center

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