5 Tips for Safe Restaurant Reopening
After over a year of rigid COVID-19 regulations and a global pandemic that touched every aspect of modern life, we’re finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. As vaccines roll out and the service industry is reopening at greater capacities, restaurants look forward to safely returning to business as usual.
Restaurants can follow these 5 tips to keep everybody safe as we move past this pandemic together.
Safely Reopening After COVID-19
1. Prioritize Sanitation
Now, people have grown accustomed to seeing intense cleaning processes to disinfect spaces between guests. Make sure to pay attention to these concerns. Have an effective ventilation system so as to circulate clean air, continue temperature screenings for people who come inside and check in with employees to remind them to self-monitor. If you offer single-use masks and somewhere to store their mask while eating, this also shows you’re willing to go the extra mile.
2. Communicate with Guests
As we begin to heal from the pandemic, customers retain the fears they rightfully developed this year. They want to know what’s going on so they can make informed decisions about their own safety. Honesty and transparency will have them returning, trustful, to dine with you again. Things will likely change as rapidly as they did last year, so stay on top of updates across your social channels that have the most engagement.
Update your marketing techniques to reflect the appropriate tone, too. If people need empathy, hope or a dose of reality, lean into that feeling. Your social media and promotional deals post-pandemic won’t look the same as they did when we were in the thick of things.
Fortunately, direction communication is a little bit easier because of contact tracing. Restaurants are already making customer profiles with names, numbers, emails and sales data on each guest. When you’re collecting information, take the opportunity to ask if they’d like to sign up for your email newsletter. Improve your marketing with all of this collected sales data and send deals made just for them, straight to their inbox.
3. Develop Emergency Procedures
This past year has shown that we need to be ready for anything. Coronavirus-related emergencies will likely continue to crop up throughout the recovery period. Thus it’s good to plan in advance and create procedures for different situations that might occur. What should staff do in the event of an outbreak or if someone tests positive? They need to know this before an emergency occurs while they’re unprepared.
Have written procedures with your expectations about returning to work, too. If you expect regular hand washing or tasks to be handled in a certain way, a reopening guide reassures your employees regarding what to do. They can refer back to these procedures if they forget their training under pressure.
4. Have Your Workers’ Backs
Your employees have kept business running this past year and will ensure its success going forward. Give them the respect and dedication they’ve shown you, by providing vaccination accommodations such as days off afterward to recover from the side effects. PTO, hazard pay and benefits also speak directly to the financial and safety hardships the service industry has experienced this past year. Supporting their health and showing that you care inspires your employees to give back in the form of motivation and providing a better customer experience.
5. Technology that Paves the Way
Between getting used to it during the pandemic and realizing the added convenience of self-ordering via mobile app or Self-Service Kiosk, this trend is projected to continue long after we’ve fully returned to normal, unrestricted life. Contactless technology, for example, eases any remaining concerns about meeting strangers, so it’s likely that devices and updates will grow around these preferences. Even dine-in service is getting more touch-free these days.
More Reopening Resources
Reputable organizations have come out with guidelines for safely reopening restaurants during and after COVID-19.
- The National Restaurant Association, known commonly as the other NRA, has a reopening guide for the industry.
- The CDC compiled tips for restaurants and bars looking to get back to work.
- The FDA wrote a checklist in the summer of 2020 whose advice remains relevant now.
Use these COVID-19 health and safety recommendations to boost confidence that your restaurant is a safe place to eat.
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