Covid-19- Small Biz Prep – What To Do – Shut Down, Split Into 2, or Roll With The Punches?

Discussion in 'Living Room' started by The Butler, 15th Mar, 2020.

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  1. The Butler

    The Butler Well-Known Member

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    OK, thought I’d ask the brains trust here for your thoughts as I'm going round in circles.

    I own and run a pick-up and drop off domestic laundry service.

    We have approx 1,500 regular customers from who we collect once every 2.2 weeks on average - about 700 pickups a week.

    We have three vans and drivers.

    We have about 20 employees – virtually all casuals, approx. 15 full time equivalents.

    We work 5 days a week.

    So far…

    We have upped our cleaning and sanitising regime, added hygiene supplies, educated our staff and created a written response for customers regarding our response, which we currently provide on a reactive basis, i.e. when asked.

    My mind is now turning to business disruption/continuity.

    My understanding from what I can find online is that if a member of our staff is confirmed to have contracted the virus (which I believe will probably occur at some point in the future) then the following will happen:

    All contacts that have either had 15 mins face to face contact or 2 hours contact in the same room will need to be tested, stay home and isolate for 14 days.

    All our production staff are in the same open plan laundry – so this effectively means a shut down of or business for two weeks +.

    I’ve considered the following alternatives:

    A) Closing down for an indefinite period, until all this passes. I think this would be business suicide. We’d lose our staff, our customers and a pile of money servicing existing fixed o’heads for an unknown length of time.

    B) Splitting the workforce into two ”teams”, each to process work 3 days a week, expanding our working week to 6 days. Then if a member of team A falls ill, only half our staff would be forced to quarantine and we could still service half our customer base and keep half our staff employed (unless/until a member of team B falls ill).

    C) Splitting the workforce into 2 or more locations. Then we may have to only close one location at a time (this is just a more expensive and logistically complicated version of B).

    D) Stay as we are and just roll with the punches. Close for two weeks each time we have an illness and our staff and customers will just have to understand.

    The things that gets me about B, C and D is that the closures may happen multiple times as this runs its course?

    As an extra complication we have no idea what will happen to demand over this period. So no decrease yet, but what’s around the corner?

    Other alternatives? – What would you do to prepare?
     
  2. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    Kudos to you for thinking ahead and trying to plan.

    My first thought is that your staff need to know that they must wash their hands so many times through the day that they'll soon get sick of it. And their families need to do this too so that as a family unit, they try to protect themselves from being sick, and if they don't take great care, their family member (your employee) may lose work and money.

    If you can ensure your staff understand how serious it is they are scrupulous in their hand washing, not touching faces, keeping distance etc, you may get through this without anyone coming down with the virus.

    I'd guess the problem will be when someone catches a common cold and who's going to make the call? I'd guess if that happens, they need to stay away until they have some certainty.

    Apart from self-education, strict guidelines on washing hands etc at work, not touching faces, trying to keep apart, I like your ideas of two shifts, three days each. But all work surfaces would need to be sanitized through the day too, and that stuff isn't easy to get as things heat up.

    Maybe look at natural products (eucalyptus/tea tree oil?). We had nothing like that so I bought Pine-O-Clean Hospital grade disinfectant spray plus went to the health shop and bought Eucalyptus/Tea Tree oil spray. We won't use it unless we need to.

    Good luck.

    PS. I have no medical training, but just listing what is being said in the media about lowering that curve by being careful, washing etc.
     
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  3. The Butler

    The Butler Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Wyllie,
    Yes, we are constantly repeating the wash hands msg. Posters going up etc.
    Also constant surface cleaning throughout the day - plus contract cleans upped from 2/wk to 5/wk.
    It's actually forced us to up our game re cleaning and simple things in the kitchen - like shared coffee and sugar tubs v's sachets, washing up (no dishwasher) v's disposable crockery/cutlery etc.
    Now what I need to understand is how to keep as many staff employed they want and how to keep customers happy.
     
  4. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    If you have the ability to disinfect the site so that the site can remain open but the staff go on the 14 day shutdown then I would:
    1. split your workforce into 3 teams - I'll take the easy way and say 7 on a team but I know some people may work more hours than others but for this to work I'll assume everyone works the same hours
    2. You keep running 5 days a week but have shifts, lets say 7-midday and 1-6pm with a clean in the hour in between.
    3. Advertise now for additional casuals but don't employ anyone, just let them know you are advertising should one team go out of action.
    4. Assign the teams to the shifts. Should one team go out of action you can then reassign your current 2 teams over the 3 teams and add in some new casuals who can be trained up by the experienced team members. Little to no disruption to capacity or workload
     
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  5. The Butler

    The Butler Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Westminster - see I knew it would be worth putting this out there.
    Something to def have a look at.
     
  6. twobobsworth

    twobobsworth Well-Known Member

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    Offer paid sick leave to your casuals for the remainder of the year.
     
  7. The Butler

    The Butler Well-Known Member

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    Thanks TBW, how to support those off sick is certainly something we're investigating - and how can we use any gov't assistance to help. I'm also conscious that having a viable business to return to is important.