If I had an editor, they would post one of those little disclosures at the top of this post saying something like:
‘We apologize that while you are still worried about overeating at Thanksgiving and your coming holiday shopping – not to mention that COVID thing, Tim drops this new one on you. We tried, but to no avail.’ – The Editors
One of my occasional habits is to clear the kitchen table, pour myself a bourbon, and burn a few hours with a jigsaw puzzle. It is a great way to occupy my mind without consuming it. It – maybe the puzzle, maybe the whiskey – allows the back channels of my brain to operate without interference from me, which is typically a problem. Often, something interesting emerges. Last night was one of those nights.
Now, every business that interacts with customers is touting just how safe they are. For example, the airline industry is hosting travel managers from large companies to show all the things they are doing to keep planes safe in order to get travelers back. Of course, it makes sense right now, though I think sealing the pilots in plastic wrap seems to be a step too far.
And do building managers really need to put the little stickers in the elevator telling us to stand here or here? It is, by definition, a small metal box with just so many options.
Right now, flashing your safety credentials bright and loud is good thing if you are interacting with customers, and is especially important for physicians with patients. Concerns are real, confidence is shaky and anything that can bolster it is necessary.
But will this last forever, or at some point does overplaying the safety card begin to backfire?
Sorry, but you’ll likely have to tackle this question sometime in 2021.
I recently talked to a doctor who sincerely believes his over-the-top safety procedures, which may more reflect his core personality issues than epidemiological best practices, will be the primary driver of his long-term growth.
Maybe there is a significant market segment that will forever value shopping at a place where everything is regularly hosed off by a guy in a hazmat suit.
But there is, or will be, a risk on the other side. There always is. Life, and business, involves trade-offs.
Just as there may be a niche that highly values heightened safety protocols and will choose businesses that follow them, I believe there will also be a segment of the market that has tired of what COVID has required of us this year and will be looking to take their business to places that feel more normal, circa 2019 and earlier.
As if COVID has not already made your head hurt.
Now your strategy not only involves decisions about pricing, service quality, convenience, and other things, but you also must figure out how your ‘safety profile’ plays into your overall value proposition.
Ponder that over a 1,000-piece puzzle.