We dove into the 71 complaints filed against Ross County businesses since re-opening. Here’s what we found

COVID-19 continues to manifest itself in Ross County and throughout Ohio, but re-opening the state’s businesses was significant on many levels.

Re-opening was crucial, but another critical step is to continuously improve customer confidence, which is essential to improving sales and getting more people back to work.

Here’s our advice: Wear your mask. Not only wear it but wear it properly.

Why? Your customers want to see it, and they’re likely basing their return visits on how well your business follows re-opening procedures.

The Chamber made a public records request to see complaints filed against local businesses related to re-opening procedures in the days since May 1. Here’s what we found:

  • Seventy-one complaints were registered with the Ross County Health District from May 16 to June 26. We focused on those complaints since the health district changed their tracking procedures on May 16. Restaurants and bars could open for outdoor service on May 15
  • In all, 77% of those complaints were for employees not wearing facial coverings or masks.
  • Forty-seven of the 71 complaints contained details of what the claims observed. Of those, 29 of them (62%) included details of improperly worn masks or no masks. The most common mistake with the mask is one worn but not covering their nose or under their chin and not covering the face. But the majority of complaints are coming in about no masks.
  • After mask-wearing, the most common complaints were people failing to maintain social distancing or close contact (49%), not cleaning frequently touched surfaces (31%), and no hand sanitizer available to use (25 percent). A separate category for restaurant/bar operations accused of failing to keep social distancing in place garnered 17% of the complaints.
  • The most common complaints come against restaurant/grocery store/food service (55%), with retail stores at 11%. The catch-all category of “other” is at 18%.

So, what do we do this with information? Here are a few words of guidance:

  • First, let’s pay more attention to masks. It’s important to our customers. They want to see them worn and worn correctly. Please provide them, and go over the proper way to wear one, then have conversations with employees who lose sight of mask placement. As we said before, have an answer for those who might question a maskless employee. Managers need to set an example. (Let us know if you run out of masks, or can’t find them. We can help.)
  • Also, keep talking about what you’re doing to keep everyone safe. Use your social media to do quick live videos. They don’t have to look like Martin Scorsese directed them. Keep it simple and to the point.
  • Please make sure we distance people. By my look at this so far, we have many businesses doing this the right way. There are spotty reports of lax distancing practices, and one account will likely lead to more if not addressed immediately.
  • Adhere to strict disinfecting protocols. Many of the complaints originated from instances where employees didn’t follow established guidelines for cleaning off menus, tables, cash stands, etc. after patrons used them. Make sure employees handle the products carefully and clean them thoroughly.

We can all agree that the re-opening guidelines are challenging to maintain, but with a refocus on them, we can continue to increase consumer confidence and lead to a better future.

Finally, if businesses have complaints that should be addressed with the Health District, contact us and we’ll help you carry them forward.