Cleanliness is the latest vogue12 June 2020
This outbreak has focused public thinking on cleanliness and it is a strong message operators should not be afraid to use to promote their business as we come out of lockdown
Nobody could pretend that things have been normal, cafés closed, shops closed, cinemas, theatres, pubs, churches and places of worship closed, concerts cancelled, holidays? forget holidays. We are looking towards an unknown future, postponed.
There is no doubt that if you run a drycleaners or a laundry that has had to furlough workers and/or shut its doors, these will have been, and probably still are, the most difficult times you have experienced. On the plus side, you know that it is not only you that is experiencing it and it’s through no fault of your own. It has affected everybody from the largest company to the smallest.
You will also be aware that people are saying that this is a game changer, things will never get back to normal, and do you know what? Things always go back to normal, it’s just that it might be a different kind of normal and that might not be a bad thing at all.
Foodservice, hospitality and leisure businesses are going to lose trade unless their toilet and washing facilities are up to scratch. People have been scared and will be much more aware about the need for cleanliness. Unlike in the pandemic of 1918, todays population gets instant news reports via the wonders of TV, radio and the Internet.
I am not a person who likes to take advantage of a situation that has caused so much distress and I’m sure neither are you, but you are in the cleaning industry and this whole outbreak is about cleanliness. You should be able to promote your service as being safe and highly efficient at removing/killing bacteria and so on. It is a chance for you to advertise that the service that you provide, is safe, whether you use social media (see Conor Diggin’s cover story on page xx) or more traditional ways to promote your business
While we are at it, look at your premises from a customer’s point of view. You are behind another customer who is dropping off items for cleaning, the assistant goes through the order with the customer, books them in, issues tickets and puts the order to one side and greets you, signalling for you to put your order on the counter. You have just spent months learning from the media about hand washing, gels, soaps, wipes, how to decrease the risk of catching things, even the supermarkets are wiping down the trolleys. In fact, you, along with a sizeable majority of the population after so many months of quarantine and social distancing are likely a bit OCD about clean hands and surfaces.
Therefore, what I do not want to do as a customer is to put my garments on the same area of countertop as a previous customer’s dirty items have lain on. I want the countertop cleaned first. (people will even want to be assured that their items are cleaned with nobody else’s, which we know is something that is not possible, so you need to get your expert replies ready. I would suggest that the Guild of Cleaners and Launderers are the people to contact for guidance here.
So, at the first opportunity go buy one or even two of those free-standing electronic hand gel dispensers, one for the customer side and one for yours. Ensure that antibacterial wipes are kept at hand and wipe down the counter with them and other surfaces too. Do it in front of the customer, let them see that you keep things clean which will also reassure them. Perhaps invest in a screen.
Visible good housekeeping is going to make a difference to who survives and who doesn’t in the coming months.