Retailers and brands are facing significant challenges on a variety of fronts during the COVID-19 crisis, especially in health and safety. Keeping the workforce safe and working areas clean are top concerns.
What happens if you don’t take the cleanliness steps required? You end up like Tyson. Not only do you have sick workers, but you lose productivity, have to close, and suffer significant damage to your brand. No one wants that – not during COVID-19 and not afterward. People’s focus on cleanliness has shifted for the long-term as a result of this virus.
What can businesses do to adapt? Here’s what you need to know.
Don’t Stop Cleanliness Steps After COVID-19
The first step is to keep your cleanliness at a high level. It will be tempting as things return to normal to drop your level of attention to keeping things clean.
You can’t afford to do that! First of all, people will take time to regain their trust in public spaces. If you stop maintaining your cleaning, they won’t trust your restaurants and will be more likely to go to your competitors.
Secondly, if there’s a second COVID-19 spike or a second wave of the virus, you can’t afford to have your restaurants associated with subpar standards that may cause it. You need to continue to do everything you were doing for quite some time — and some of your new cleaning standards should probably be permanent.
Be Sure Customers Know the Steps You’re Taking
Many essential businesses have a sign that explains the additional steps they’re taking to keep people safe. People need to know the same things about your restaurant. Consider getting some signage that explains your efforts and standards.
Right now with the pandemic ongoing, you are probably doing delivery and curbside service. Do your customers know enough about your cleaning processes to trust your kitchen, staff, and lobby? Find a good way to communicate the steps you’re taking.
You might consider having an announcement of your cleaning steps on your website and ordering app. You can also include it on a flyer with the delivery so that people have a chance to see it even if they call in their orders.
As the pandemic eases, you’ll have a chance to reopen, although likely on a limited basis. For instance, in Iowa, Governor Reynolds has lifted some restrictions in 77 of the state’s 99 counties as of May 1. This includes allows restaurants to operate at 50% capacity. Be sure you comply with your state’s requirements and let customers know that you’re doing so.
A simple sign on your door that says “What We’re Doing” and explaining the social distancing and cleaning steps you take will go a long way toward reassuring consumers. You can also include the announcement on your website and app.
The goal is to help your guests trust that your restaurant is taking appropriate steps to keep everyone safe. When they understand that, they will be much more likely to choose your location over your competitors when it’s time to go out to eat once again.
How to Keep Your Cleanliness at a High Level
So you know you need to keep your cleaning processes thorough and communicate those steps to customers. But how do you make sure your cleaning is actually happening as promised? Here are some tips to keep things moving smoothly.
Ensure Your Staff Follow Through
A cleaning process is only as good as the group carrying it out. Talk to your managers to see what you can do to impress your staff with the importance of keeping things as clean as possible.
You also want to make sure your employees follow the best practices to prevent COVID-19 among your staff. Steps like washing hands regularly, covering sneezes and coughs appropriately, not touching their faces, and staying home when sick make a big difference in keeping your restaurant safe for everyone.
As the virus progresses and more data is gathered, things may change. That’s why keeping up-to-date on the latest coronavirus information is essential.
You want to keep abreast of the symptoms to watch for, the best practices to protect yourself, your staff, and your customers, and your community. Doctors and professionals are learning more about COVID-19 every day. You owe it to yourself to stay informed.
Make Sure All Equipment is Working Efficiently
As you work hard to keep things clean, you want to ensure that your equipment is helping the effort rather than hindering it. Everything from keeping your dishwasher running well and draining thoroughly to making sure all sinks and drains are efficient will help you keep your restaurant safe.
When your equipment is working as it should, your employees can do their job as well. It will keep everything moving smoothly in your establishment and keep everyone safe.
Make Cleanliness Part of Your Marketing
Recently there have been a lot of touching messages shared through TV commercials. For instance, IKEA is reminding people to enjoy their homes, and Hershey’s is encouraging customers to share love from afar. Restaurants can use this to remind people they are open for takeout and delivery while promising to reopen responsibly when it’s safe.
Examples of restaurants using this messaging include Burger King’s focus on promoting contactless delivery, as well as Denny’s and IHOP advertising $0 delivery fees. This type of positive messaging is a powerful way to market your establishment.
Perhaps TV commercials aren’t within the budget, but you can always do similar outreach on Instagram and other social media. Let your followers and community know how you can serve them now, and promise a responsible return later.
Think outside the box and consider ways you can branch out with your restaurant. You’ll need to bring a lot of people in – safely – after the COVID-19 crisis is over. Having a steady stream of customers will help you get back on your feet after a long closure.
Stay Clean, Stay Safe, Stay Profitable
Both during and after the COVID-19 crisis, it’s essential to keep your restaurant as clean as possible. Communicate your cleaning process to instill confidence in your customers and your staff. When you do all you can to keep things clean and safe, you’ll be able to bounce back to profitability even after this difficult time.
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