Cleaning Surcharges and COVID-19
Protecting Customers During a Pandemic
Some businesses have started adding a "cleaning surcharge" onto their bills. They claim all the extra cleaning that's required to protect customers from COVID-19 has dramatically raised costs.
Let's explore that. What were those businesses doing BEFORE the pandemic to protect their customers from disease? How did they clean their tables, disinfect their equipment or keep surfaces sanitized?
At my personal training center, there's a lot of things that have to stay clean. We always thought we were doing a pretty good job. But with the arrival of a killer pandemic, we've discovered we can all do more. I'd like to share a few of those ideas here.
If you're a customer, look for the things I talk about. Companies that have them are trying to protect you and deserve your money. If you're a business owner, take a close look at what you're doing and see how many of these things you can put in place.
When you walk into a business, is there a touchless hand sanitizer dispenser? If the doors don't automatically open, that handle you grabbed to enter the business can hold lots of germs. You should be able to clean your hands once you get inside.
Bathrooms with Touchless Fixtures
Are there customer bathrooms? Some people are allergic to hand sanitizer. There should be a bathroom where customers and employees can wash their hands.
While you're in the bathroom, look around. Are the sinks and soap dispensers touchless? Are there paper towels to dry your hands? Are there flushable toilet seat covers? Any surfaces you have to touch can spread germs, so touchless options should be available whenever possible.
How is the business protecting customers from each other? Large stores have made shopping aisles one way, so there's less congestion. Checkout areas have markings on the floor for people to keep 6 feet apart. There are specially designated entrances and exits, so people don't get too close in passing. Some places even keep count of how many are coming and going so the store doesn't get too crowded.
Smaller businesses might need to close down waiting rooms and have customers come by appointment only. Gyms can outline workout pods and use room dividers to keep people separate. One of the more clever solutions I've seen is a bar that puts each customer inside an inner tube table to keep them socially distanced.
How are high touch surfaces being dealt with? Check-out counters and customer service desks have a constant barrage of people touching them. Cleaning them with disinfectant wipes after each customer can work, but that's a lot of stuff ending up in a landfill. I prefer to use a misting spray bottle with 70% isopropyl alcohol in it. It kills things in the time it takes to evaporate, just 30-60 seconds.
Cover Things in Copper
Another level of protection is to cover high touch surfaces in copper. Studies show that some viruses can live up to 72 hours on stainless steel and plastic. On copper, there is a 50% reduction of the virus in just 1.1 hours and no traces remain after 4 hours. In my gym, we've wrapped all our weights in pure copper foil. Businesses can cover desks in copper sheets and put antimicrobial push plates on doors.
Misting Sanitizers and UV Light Disinfecting
How are large areas cleaned? Some companies use misting systems and they spray disinfectant over everything. That works, but you constantly have to buy more disinfectant and it can leave behind a residue. I prefer using high-powered UV-C lights. That's a type of light that kills the virus in the air and on all exposed surfaces. Generally, this is done once a day as a deep clean. However, doctors, massage therapists and gyms can use these to disinfect customer areas each time they finish with a client.
All of these steps cost money, but many are simply enhancements to things companies should have been doing already. People understand when businesses charge more because they've been forced to reduce capacity, limit their hours or when the cost of the things they sell have gone up.
But if you're charging more because you're finally keeping your place clean? What you're telling customers is that you probably weren't cleaning very well, to begin with. If you add a “cleaning surcharge” onto your bills, don't be surprised if your customers look for a competitor who was keeping things clean all along.
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