Why vaccine passports are bad news for small business

The cost of monitoring for passports is something that small businesses neither want nor can afford

David FullerRequiring vaccine passports is bad news for small businesses that have already faced the brunt of COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.

This new requirement that people wishing to be served at establishments like gyms, restaurants, bars, airlines, tourist attractions and concerts must give proof of vaccination is a troubling development for businesses are already struggling.

The challenges that businesses will face include:

Loss of sales

In most places in Canada, 60 to 80 per cent of the population are vaccinated. This means 20 to 40 per cent of the customer base of most businesses chose – for health, safety, trust, religion or other reasons – not to take the vaccine.

Requiring a vaccine passport to access products or services will restrict the number of people who can purchase from your business. If your customer base has just dropped by 20 to 40 per cent, you can bet your sales will also drop.

Loss of profitability

A study by the Infocredit Group in 2020 found that when sales drop by 25 per cent, 81 per cent of companies show net loss.

Click here to downloadWhen companies are only marginally profitable – and research from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in the United States shows that before the pandemic upwards of 50 to 60 per cent of small business fell into this category – losses to a customer base will have a significant affect on the bottom line.

Small business owners can’t afford another week, month or year of losses.

Loss of staffing

The service industry is having significant difficulty attracting and retaining workers, given the sector’s inability to guarantee work in an environment that’s constantly facing lockdowns and restrictions.

While a percentage of business owners may feel vaccine passports will protect their staff from customers, customers are going to demand that staff prove their vaccinations as well. Businesses that are forcing employee vaccinations are already losing workers.

Forbes recently reported that as  many as 33 per cent of hospital workers in the United States, including nurses and physicians, have refused to be vaccinated. We shouldn’t be surprised that people will leave their jobs when forced to vaccinate against their will.

Enforcement requirements

Who does government think is going to enforce vaccine passports?

In some jurisdictions, police forces have already asked for more money if they have to help with vaccine passport enforcement. Are businesses now expected to burden already hard-working staff by adding another rigorous task to their customer interactions? At what cost?

Need more advice on running your business? Click here

So how much is a business worth?

Monitoring vaccine passports in a business is going to take time and time is money. The cost of monitoring is going to add costs that small businesses neither want nor can afford.

Outraged customers

Guess what’s going to happen when some of your regular customers can no longer use your products or services because you’re denying them entry?

Not only are businesses going to face outraged customers, many are going to risk losing these customers forever.

Pro-vaccine passport government officials don’t seem to understand that businesses spend considerable money, effort and energy in attracting new customers. The lifetime value of customers is often thousands of dollars.

Customers who are upset are going to spend their money elsewhere, and businesses that are forced to refuse to take their money are going to have to find ways to deal with angry customers.

Increased stress

Drama in the workforce places unneeded stress on employees and owners of small businesses. The division created by the implementation of vaccination passports is not only affecting customers, it will impact the mental health of anyone trying to take care of customers.

With burnout levels of business leaders and their employees reaching all-time highs, vaccine passports just add more stress that people don’t need.

Whether you believe in the value of these vaccines or not, requiring vaccine passports doesn’t make sense on many levels. Where do these vaccine passports stop? Will we see:

  • People demanding to see hepatitis A, B and C vaccines for all restaurant staff?
  • Customers asking to see food safe or bartending certification for all employees in an establishment?
  • Will employers be able to access the full medical history of all staff?
  • Will people be prevented from applying for jobs based on their health or medications?
  • How long will people be restricted from travel based on their refusal to medicate in certain ways?

The slippery slope of vaccine passports will have serious long-term effects on businesses and their owners.

Unfortunately, government officials who have long-term job security and high salaries aren’t going to be affected by their decisions to enforce vaccine passports to the extent small business owners and their employees will be.

When vaccine passports become the norm, small business closures will become commonplace instead of the exception. That’s bad news for all of us.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Disagree with this article? Email dave@pivotleader.com. For interview requests, click here.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the authors’ alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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