We are truly grateful to be open and deemed essential. However, being essential has brought with it some necessary, fundamental changes to the way we do business. Change is often difficult without a good reason. Fortunately, there are no better reasons than having a job and maintaining your health.
First, we started by educating our teams about the virus, how to avoid getting it or spreading it to others. Our initial focus was personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness. We held training seminars and virtual meetings to review handwashing techniques, created rigorous cleaning schedules, and implemented protocols to hold each other accountable to the new standards. We posted all the information to a shared internal folder.
Next, we moved on to creating space between our employees. We closed our breakrooms and held meetings virtually, instead of face to face. Our salespeople and administrative staff were encouraged to work from home. We divided the onsite staff into “pods” of 4-6 people from different job types. Each pod stayed at least 6 feet from the other pods. Now, if someone gets sick in one of the pods, just that pod is quarantined instead of shutting down the entire site.
We also implemented new procedures to create space with our retail customers. We closed our lobbies to the general public. Currently, all customer pick-ups must be pre-paid and are available for curbside pick up only. For the sites in states that do not allow customer pick of any kind, we direct ship or deliver to non-commercial residences.
In order to create space between our drivers and commercial customers, we stopped offering the “Cash On Delivery” (COD) payment option for our local deliveries to minimize contact. Now, these customers are on a credit account, or prepay with a credit card. Customers are also not required to sign for deliveries. We might get the name of the person who accepted the order, but otherwise our drivers drop and go.
Of the changes we’ve made so far, our policies concerning customer pick-ups and COD orders have been the most beneficial for our business. Everything we pull gets picked up. Our drivers are spending between 5-10 minutes less per stop. No more waiting for someone to write a check, run to the ATM, or come up with an extra $15 when they’re short on an invoice. Can you image having no outstanding COD’s…? So, we take the good with the bad and move forward.
None of the changes we’ve made would have been possible without consistent, transparent, and regular communication between our teams and customers. As I write this, we are changing our onsite procedures to include taking temperatures and wearing facemasks. I am sure by the time this article is published there will be several other changes… I might be writing part two from inside a bubble instead of a walk-in closet. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Our next part in this series will continue our journey on doing just that.