We have talked to some of our retailers about what actions they were taking during this last week or so.

First, follow World Health Organisation procedures on personal hygiene and proximity, cancelling any group activities (such as staff training), and conducting meetings over the phone, rather than in person.

Keep your customers informed – for example from one of our members;

For the time being, all our stores are maintaining their regular opening hours. Naturally, we are offering the same friendly service, but are cutting down on contact (sorry, no handshakes or hugs for now). We are regularly disinfecting our demo gear. Hand sanitiser is being made available and we encourage payment via card rather than cash. Should you feel unwell (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache or shortness of breath) or if you have recently returned from overseas, we ask that you refrain from visiting us in store in order to ensure the safety of all customers and our team. In many cases, we can look after you just as well if you browse our website, give us a call or email us instead.

Q: Should retailers stop taking cash?
The W.H.O. is advising everyone to wash their hands after using cash money, especially if handling or eating food.

To be safe, you could encourage use of card machines and ideally contactless and try to have a sanitiser close for team members who may handle cash. Perhaps restrict cash handling to a single till in the store.

Q: How do retailers handle a customer sneezing or coughing, especially into their hands
Advise your teams to offer customers tissues and once they do, say “we do have sanitiser available”. This is polite and helpful without being accusatory. Keep a reasonable distance from customers; 1-2 metres where possible.

Q: What about people wanting to try an instrument instore?
One of our committee members has implemented a No Blow policy for all brass, woodwind, harmonicas etc. We have used his idea and prepared generic artwork for members use. Download No Blow artwork here

Put a sign on the door stating it’s a condition of entry that if you plan on trying an instrument you need to use the hand sanitiser we’ve provided at the entrance.

Download sanitiser art HERE

With guitars for example, customers should be asked to use the hand sanitiser that you are making available.  We have been advised to be careful with using hand sanitiser and then touching guitars that have Nitrocellulose finishes. These two things do not mix well apparently! Maton has confirmed this as their belief too and we are advised affects Fender, Gibson & Martin also.

From Fender USA;
“Hand sanitizer is 60+% percent alcohol which can cause clouding in lacquer finishes.

But, the alcohol residue from using hand sanitizer would be super minimal as the alcohol dries into the air rapidly. I wouldn’t use sanitizer or wipes with alcohol directly on the guitar but a person who’s used sanitizer, and it’s dried, shouldn’t be a problem”

Q: What actions can retailers take in the store?
A: Thoroughly clean doors, counters, computers, and areas where customers may touch. Instruments, especially wind, are being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

Again, some retailers are printing advice to customers and posting it around the store.

One of our retailers has divided its staff, with half working in the warehouse doing administrative stuff, half on the sales floor. This way if one gets sick hopefully it doesn’t affect the whole team. (Obviously not practical for all stores).

Next a store policy of one staff member per computer and per phone, (no sharing workspaces, calls are transferred rather than phones being handed around) and all sanitised at end of shift. EFT keypad sanitised after any touch.

Provide hand sanitiser on counters in clear view and encourage customers to use it, as well as staff after they have dealt with a customer. Keep the customer informed of the policies in your store at this time.

Q: How do you reassure your staff?
Be as understanding as possible, stress the social distancing measures that are recommended when dealing with a customer and all the other initiatives you are putting in place to keep people safe.

Talk as a group with your team to ensure no one has been in a high-risk situation, reassuring them their workplace is as safe as it can be.

Many staff are part-time musicians who have lost their gigs – have empathy.

Q: Are there any changes in consumer behaviour that you’ve noticed?
Retailers are noticing an increase in phone and email enquiries. Customers who are concerned about being at home for a prolonged period maybe looking to making music to relieve stress and anxiety.

People are anxious generally – so anything retailers can do to reassure them will help. Some retailers report people being nervous of the delivery contractors, so there are particular challenges.

Some people are assuming that stores are closed, so promote that its business as usual, and that the store is using best practice for the safety of everyone.

Q: How is the online business going?
Some retailers with an online store have noticed increased business, others not so much. We guess this could be expected to increase. Promote to customers that business is open online. Offer your product expertise over the phone or by email. Reassure customers of your warehouse procedures.

Another good idea from one of our members;

Online Ordering
Our online ordering service is running as usual with a full team working in our online orders department, ready for your enquiries. We are waiving our usual $xx order minimum AND going one step further and offering free shipping on all products (Including bulky or heavy products). We encourage you to take advantage of this offer rather than collecting your purchase in store.

Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips caught up with Jordan Wieland from Haworth Guitars to discuss how they are going about business during this period

If anyone else would like to do a Skype interview to promote their business, share advice or solutions, please contact us

We’d like to acknowledge the contributions of our members to the above:
Graham Hoskins, Concept Music WA, Craig Johnston, Keyboard Corner/KC’s Rock Shop, VIC
Mark King, Australian Piano Warehouse, Jordan Wieland, Haworth Guitars, NSW, Andrew Muller, Store DJ/Mannys