We’re open again! Woohoo! That means the hard times are behind small business and everything is great, right? No. I’m very sorry to give you a reality check that small business is still very much standing on a precipice. I read on a FB post someone complaining about a “covid surcharge” at a restaurant and how the restaurant should just be happy that they came at all. I understand where the patron is coming from, but allow me to enlighten you on what a small business is currently facing.
The mandatory shut down obviously damaged revenue and depleted savings. Fixed costs (rent, insurance, music licensing fees, utilities, studio management software, etc) are due even when your company isn’t allowed to be physically open, but now that businesses ARE open all those costs are still there AND there is a whole new level of costs that we are facing specifically because of Covid. I can’t speak for a restaurant, but for my dance fitness studios here are a few of the new costs covid created for us:
- Increased professional cleaning. At Aerial Dance we have always had a professional cleaning and disinfecting company come in. Right now, we have increased how often they come and are paying for this.
- Cleaning Supplies. Plain and simple, cleaning supplies on the scale we are using them are extremely expensive. They were always a cost for our business but since covid that cost has over tripled.
- We have bought new floor mop systems for deeper disinfecting.
- We have increased the number of times we spray aerial fabrics so the cans of disinfectants are being used over twice as fast.
- We have put sanitization stations at every entrance. We went from one entrance per studio to 2 entrances in Green Bay and 4 entrances in Appleton. So that is six bottles of hand sanitizer out daily now instead of 2.
- We’ve added sanitization options. We used to just have hand gel but now also have a hand wipe option.
- Additional student cleaning supplies. We no longer share spray bottles of alcohol. Every pole and apparatus has their own. This means purchasing the bottles themselves and then filling them with alcohol nightly. And incase you were wondering, since March the cost of isopropyl alcohol has gone up over $2 per bottle. And incase you missed the blog on how hard it has been to source this product, we use 23 bottles EVERY WEEK.
- Masks. We purchased masks for all our instructors that have changeable filters. Then we purchased a bunch of the filter material so they can change their mask filter whenever they choose. Then we also purchased a box of masks for the front desk at each location in case a student forgot one.
- Towels! Where we used to have three towels out in a pole studio now EVERY STUDENT has TWO of her own. The towels we provide are not rags but instead high end microfiber towels; we went from 3 per studio per night to around 72 per studio per night (we have three pole studios….so around 216 towels for pole per day when it used to be 9).
- New towels. We bought new big towels for use in fitness classes incase someone forgot one and needed to rent it.
- Laundry. With the increase in the number of towels being used we are now doing laundry, daily, sometimes multiple times per day. This mean an increase in our water bill.
- Towels have to be cleaned on HOT so an increase in our electric bill for our hot water heaters.
- We are also going through detergent and bleach WAY faster.
- Laundry for our fabrics. We are washing our silks and hammock a LOT more frequently so all the above costs for laundry are being incurred for washing fabrics too. But the bigger cost here is that the increased washing means we wearing out our expensive aerial fabrics faster as we will need to replace them sooner.
- New equipment. We purchased new equipment and shifted equipment between our two locations to be able to run aerial classes with the one per apparatus format.
- HVAC costs. We are changing our filters in all our HVAC units (we have 5) frequently.
- Increased Electric Costs because of HVAC. Since we are running the fans constantly and keeping doors open as much as possible our electric costs for AC have almost tripled from this time last year.
- Legal costs. Covid brought the need for a new liability waiver. We also need guidance every time a new situation arises dealing with covid stuff like testing and tracking.
- Online class costs. We increased the speed of internet at both locations so we can do online classes with two-way video.
- We had to buy a new computer for the Appleton studio so we had a computer for online classes and a front desk computer.
While taking on ALL of these costs, we’ve also decreased our class sizes. We used to have 16 students in the Aerial Studio at one time, we now have maximum of 7. Our Dance Fitness classes used to have a max of 15, we now have a max of 5.
So far Aerial Dance has not increased our prices or issued a “covid surcharge” simply because I feel bad doing so. I am so grateful that our members stuck with us during the “safer at home” that I feel really guilty asking them to pay extra now that we have returned to in person classes. So I’m being super creative to avoid a price increase for as long as I can. But frankly, all these costs aren’t sustainable long term without one. So be kind to your local small businesses and know they aren’t getting rich on their “covid surcharge” or trying to make up for revenue they lost while they were closed – they are trying to survive.