Building Consumer Confidence
As You Consider Reopening
Across the country, states and municipalities are in various stages of reopening as everyone continues to keep an eye on public health information and what trends we are seeing in other countries who have started reopening earlier than the United States.

Consumer Confidence Will Vary
Just as states and counties have variation in reopening policies, consumers have varying levels of comfort with returning to their favorite establishments. Many consumers began to decrease spending 10-20 days before states officially closed, and it is likely that their return will be gradual as well.

Because of this range in comfort, it is valuable to continue providing customers with as many options as you are able. In addition to in-person services, you can best serve a range of customers by - if possible - still offering low-contact options and continuing to build out your online presence. For more tips on the latter, revisit our tips from parts 1 , 2 , and 3 , of our e-commerce series.

Follow the Guides
While you will need to make many decisions about how reopening should look, there is guidance available to help inform your decisions:

  • The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) reopening guidelines include general and industry-specific guidelines that were created in partnership with industry experts.
  • The Forward Dane plan provides a roadmap for a phased reopening based on measurable Dane County health metrics. This plan also establishes phases and acknowledges the possibility that phases may be fluid subsequent outbreaks occur.
  • The CDC has provided reopening guidance on cleaning and disinfecting, as well as general business FAQs
  • The Wisconsin Safety Council's Returning to Work guide summarizes guidelines shared by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the CDC, and other national councils to help keep employees safe.

Reopening Is a Partnership
Ultimately, the process of reopening is a partnership among you, your employees, and your customers.

Because your employees are an essential part of the team, building their confidence is important as well:
  • Gather their feedback about what equipment and procedures will make them most comfortable. Walk through a typical day together as a way to visualize traffic patterns, cleaning protocols, and other processes.
  • Before reopening, provide employee training around cleaning and safety procedures. It is also a good idea to discuss how to handle scenarios that could arise with customers who disagree with preferred protocols. You may need to revisit your training and processes more than once as new information and situations evolve.
  • Provide personal and environmental protective equipment. Bonus points if it is part of a welcome back kit for employees, branded, or locally sourced!

In addition to the health and cleaning guidelines shared above, hearing from your customers can also help you decide how reopening should look. Customer feedback through social media or surveys could help you better understand what safety protocols make your customers most comfortable, or what services are most valuable to them.

Build on the Foundation
You have already started to build confidence during closures by sharing your support of the community ; providing clear information about business hours, offerings, and processes online; and adapting to your customers' needs by offering options like curbside pickup or video concierge services. Now, your communication might shift into a video walk-through of your [regularly sanitized] space, details about cleaning procedures or changes in customer experience, or an explanation of your reopening milestones if you are choosing to stay closed for now. Enabling customers to see you and understand how you are keeping their best interests in mind will help them feel more confident about visiting your space.

Learn from Others
  • The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is collecting business' reopening plans as a shared resource for the community. Consider uploading your plan, or use this resource to source best practices from peers.
  • Still have questions about regulations or best practices? The Chamber's Slido platform is still available for business owners to ask COVID-19-related questions.

Building consumer confidence will continue to be an ongoing and constantly evolving process. Whereas much of this confidence was previously assumed, part of your role as a post-COVID business owner is to regularly revisit and revise these practices as new information emerges. Help you and your team stay well!
The Wisconsin SBDC Network is a proud part of the  Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship  in the  University of Wisconsin System . It is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the  U.S. Small Business Administration.