There is one thing that micro market operators can count on when their clients begin to repopulate offices in a meaningful way. As the old saying goes, “there will be plenty of cooks in the kitchen.” Operators will be dealing with office managers, facility managers, HR managers, even top executives, all focused on two priorities — employee safety and employee happiness.
Take a proactive approach
It will be critical for operators to take a proactive approach, especially from a design standpoint. Markets that are worn out, made with hard to clean wire shelves and put together like they were installed without any special design consideration, will not only be vulnerable to competition, but vulnerable to extinction.
Beyond keeping their employees safe, businesses are deeply concerned about liability, a good reason why they will encourage employees to work from home. “Liability is a huge issue — which is why business groups are lobbying for protection from liability pertaining to COVID-19,” said Andrew Valdivia, Area President at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. “For businesses, it is a potentially scary situation.” Valdivia added that employers must do everything they can to limit the risk of infection in their workplace, which only puts added pressure on micro market operators.
Step One – Initiate the conversation
“The first thing that every operator needs to do is talk to their client and ask them what they need to see to be comfortable with their micro market moving forward,” said Steve Orlando, Co-Founder of Fixturelite, the leading supplier of micro market retail displays, seating and design features. “That is the beginning of the process and it is a process that needs to be initiated by the operator.”
Once a client defines their concerns and spells out their objectives, a micro market operator can begin outlining a plan that addresses design, traffic flow, sanitization, signage, cleanliness and touch free options.
Step Two – Confer with trusted suppliers
“As former operators, we strive to be a thought leader in the micro market world. Our customized designs and close working relationship with operators exemplify our commitment to the industry,” said Orlando. “Once the client objectives are clear, we present solutions and bring people together to facilitate those solutions.”
Orlando pointed to numerous recommendations that Fixturelite is currently making to operators, including hand sanitizers at both ends of the market. “We are also introducing serving solutions, dispensers, and organizational systems in markets that help to create a safer and more healthful customer experience,” said Orlando. “Redesign and visual aids might be taken into consideration to keep traffic flowing and encourage social distancing.”
Step Three – Implement Solutions
A complete market redesign might be part of the plan and the discussion regarding that redesign will probably happen via video conference with all the aforementioned “cooks in the kitchen.” For this conversation, operators will need to be prepared. “The Fixturelite Design Tool is perfect for a Zoom call,” said Orlando. “Put it on a shared screen and present the design options in a professional way. This is how micro markets are sold today,” he said.
Micro market sanitizing is another huge issue for clients. Orlando is quick to point out that that the surfaces in a Fixturelite market can be easily wiped down and thoroughly cleaned. “Fixturelite goes a step beyond by utilizing professional grade materials, from suppliers that provide solutions for hospitality, office and healthcare spaces,” he said.
For the micro market client who wants to maximize touchless surfaces, micro market payment apps are gaining support. “Operators need to keep up with technology if they plan to survive,” said Steve Closser, Co-Founder of Translucent, the industry’s leading micro market consulting firm. “Apps are gaining acceptance like never before, especially as offices repopulate.”
Everything is “on the table”
Interviews with facility professionals last month made it clear that because there is no “pandemic playbook,” plenty of options were open to discussion, including the possibility of adding an attendant to a micro market - either a shared cost or paid for entirely by the client. Andrew Barret Weiss, a “Workplace Experience Manager” who has implemented some lavish employee amenity programs at companies like Edmonds.com and his current company, GoodRx, said that bringing in an attendant is being seen by many facility managers as a possible best practice.
“We want to supply plenty of amenities,” said Barret Weiss. “What gets lost in the mix and the whole discussion about safety, is one important question. Are we taking care of our employees?”
Numerous micro market operators are helping their clients show appreciation to their employees by making micro market gift card coupons and vouchers available. “Everything is on the table,” said Barret Weiss. “We are looking for solutions that will keep our people safe and happy.”
Industry consultant Bob Tullio (www.tullioB2B.com) is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up. As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA hired him to write and narrate the new online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available. Use discount code B2B10 for an instant discount and for free access to upcoming Q & A Webinars from Tullio in the coming months. Here is a free sample of the course.