Adjusting your Hospitality Business to Meet the Needs of Customers During the CoronaVirus/Covid-19 Crisis (Part #2)

Adjusting your Hospitality Business to Meet the Needs of Customers During the CoronaVirus/Covid-19 Crisis

As all provinces and most territories have limited restaurants and cafes to drive-thru, delivery or take-out business only, foodservice establishments need to adjust quickly.  Third-party delivery services like Uber, Skip the dishes and DoorDash are responding with free or very inexpensive delivery and lower percentage fees for businesses to join.

By switching to curbside pickup and self-run delivery, restaurants and cafes can maintain a level of cash flow, and provide hours work and pay for key team members.  Doing this can also keep your connections with the local community, during these challenging times.  No-one knows when this will end, so those businesses that are nimble and ready to adjust and meet demand (almost on the daily) will be the ones most successful and that can survive long-term.

Ensure you start with staying up to date on your local bylaws and mandates from government.  As well the CDC is updating almost daily on what restaurants and cafes can remain doing to stay open during the crisis: Stay up to date here:

Step #5 ~ Re-train and Enforce Food Safety standards and policies

Considering the public’s concern about restaurant kitchen and café cleanliness it is now more important than ever to retrain and reinforce proper hygiene and sanitation practices.  Below are a few ideas to help you exceed these standards:

  • Managers should familiarize themselves with the CDC’s guidelines on hygiene, as well as answers to questions about food and Covid-19
  • Ensure proper hand-washing is taken place, trained and coached as needed.  Also ensure you have the right posters in place in all hand-washing stations and restrooms.  Role-play hand-washing and how long and the process for each team member to complete accurately and be signed off on.  Implement a 20-minute timer, set all day to remind every team member to change gloves and wash their hands regularly
  • Create a pre-shift checklist for each team member before they start their shift. Make it mandatory that they show up on time and check-in with a leader to make sure they are not showing any signs of illness, their uniforms are clean, and they are practicing appropriate personal hygiene practices.
  • Retrain kitchen team members on sanitizer solution usage.  Quat sanitizer solution is effective for maximum only two hours or if it becomes dirty.  Set a 60-minute kitchen timer to remind team members to fill a clean sanitizer bucket with fresh solution.
  • Set a regular schedule for a manager to check dishwasher functioning and water temperature, as well as usage and inventory levels of required cleaning and sanitizing chemicals. Place orders when 25% of chemical pars have been reached.
  • Ensure that all to-go packaging, napkins, and utensils are stored underneath a shelf or tabletop, wrapped in a bag, or are turned upside down to prevent physical contamination. Keep packaging inventory in cases until needed.

Step #6 ~ Create standardized phone and online Customer Service Expectations

When setting up procedures for taking, filling, and completing to-go and delivery orders, design each step to minimize contact between team members and guests for everyone’s health and safety.  Create checklists for your team and build step-by step procedures.  As you develop your customer service expectations over the phone and email, include specific ways to demonstrate your commitment to recommended hygiene steps.  Below is a set of recommended steps of service for to-go and delivery orders:

  • If you’re using third-party delivery services, use social media and encourage guests to place their orders on your website by clicking links to delivery companies. Many fees have been waived or reduced.
  • Encourage in-person use of touch-free payments. Although it has not been proven that the virus can be transferred on money, ensure your team and customers feel safe and know your payment options. Encourage customers to set up Google or Apple Pay through your website and social media feeds.
  • For guests using a third-party delivery service, let them know on your website that they can request a no-contact delivery by texting their driver.
  • Depending on the size of your business and team members working to meet customer demand, have orders placed through a leader or manager if possible. To provide a consistent experience as well as increase customer engagement with your team – try to have the same employee taking orders in consistent dayparts.  This way they will get to know your team member and create a connection.  Always, capture a guest name and phone number for each order and a pick-up time for advance orders.  For curbside pickup orders, provide guests with a phone number to call when they arrive for their order or ask for a license plate and vehicle description
  • When guests arrive and call for their order, have a greeter wearing gloved hands open the door and direct them to the cashier. If the guest is paying with a credit card, the cashier uses hand sanitizer and puts on a new pair of gloves before ringing up the purchase. Once the cashier hands the credit card back to the guest, the cashier removes and discards their gloves in front of the guest.
  • Place signs at the cashier and on the front door listing specific cleaning and hygiene practices you are following to instill confidence in guests.

Step #7 ~ Prepare for the Future – An Upsurge In Business & Potential Employee Shortages

Build a staffing plan for full re-opening now.  You will need to check and adjust this as things progress, but based on China’s course of action, everything may turn back to normal as soon as 2 months from now.  If it does, or hopefully sooner – your business and your team must be ready.  Build a hiring and talent strategy to stay connected to your current or new team members.  Prepare and plan out training.  And train them to be exceptionally knowledge and amazing customer service ambassadors.  Businesses who plan the best will maximize on this upturn and hit the ground running.

During these challenging times as we navigate the pandemic around the world, providing a great customer experience and connection couldn’t be more important.  Encourage your guests to do business with you so you can provide them with freshly prepared foods brought directly to them.  Offering your products and their favorite beverage, or food item can help customers feel more ‘normal’ during these unpredictable and unprecedented times.

None of us knows what is next for the foodservice industry.  By putting these strategies in place, restaurants can work to weather the coronavirus storm and ultimately come through with a stronger brand identity in their communities and a more efficient business overall.


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