April 10, 2022

How to Get Ahead of Restaurant Guests Fear of COVID-19

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Coronavirus is on the rise in the U.S. and throughout the world, with new cases popping up daily. Now officially at a pandemic level, it’s essential that your restaurant locations take the right steps to ensure the health and well-being of your guests. In these uncertain times, your customers need reassurance that your brand is doing everything it can to protect them from encountering the novel virus at your stores.

Elevate Your Operational Focus on Cleanliness and Preventative Measures

First and foremost, a proactive approach will go a long way in preventing the spread of the virus at your stores. Take Gregorys Coffee for example. We applaud this coffee, wellness, and lifestyle brand for taking preventative measures to protect its staff and patrons, including:

  • Shutting down condiment stations—all orders are to be completed by staff behind the counter.
  • A regimen of regular handwashing for all staff.
  • Glove use at all workstations.
  • Regular sanitation of door handles, bathrooms, tabletops, and other communal surfaces.
  • A company mandate to stay home for any employees feeling ill.

Implementing these sanitation and wellness strategies across every one of your locations will help put your guests’ minds at ease, and keep your operations running smoothly.

While many states have mandated that all restaurants move to takeout and delivery orders only, food safety protocol is still important behind the scenes, whether your establishment is still accepting dine-in guests or not. Here are some tips for protecting both kitchen staff and customers:

  • Closely monitor employee health. Kitchen staff can transmit an illness just as easily as a guest-facing server.
  • Disinfect with an EPA-registered surface disinfectant with an “emerging viral pathogen” claim and follow the directions for use and contact time.
  • Thoroughly rinse food contact surfaces with potable water.
  • Wash and sanitize food contact surfaces and equipment more frequently.
  • Perform training that reinforces cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting procedures.
  • Ensure easy access to hand sinks that are stocked with warm water, soap, and paper towels.
  • Disinfect handles on coolers and equipment, as well as other handles.

Now is also an opportune time for your brand to do a thorough check-up on your stores’ performance in the “cleanliness” category. And what better way to find this out than straight from the mouths of guests? This may seem like a daunting task, especially if you have multiple units spread across the country. Can you trust your GMs and DMs to accurately report the guest feedback they receive onsite? While still an option, mystery shoppers are expensive, and their visits only capture one moment in time for a location—whose staff may be on to the ruse anyways.

Leverage Guest Feedback to Monitor Operational Changes

Cue the more tech-forward concept of a Customer Experience Improvement (CXI) strategy. In this approach, your brand can connect with guests everywhere. Tattle’s CXI platform makes this possible through integrations with existing POS systems, digital ordering systems, kiosks, and more. Guests that interact with your brand through one of these channels will receive a survey prompt once their order is complete.

This gives guests the opportunity to rate operational categories, such as the overall cleanliness of a store they visited, as well as the individual factors within this category, such as the conditions of the countertops, floors, beverage/utensil stations, and bathrooms. Tattle’s survey format even allows them to include additional comments on why they provided their rating, giving you real-time intel into what areas didn’t meet their expectations. As you’ve probably noticed, when hospitality guests are unhappy with an experience, they aren’t shy about sharing this with you.

Once you have this feedback data, the system can pinpoint trends by location. Now you’ll know exactly which locations need to make cleanliness the focus of their improvement strategy, and what factors are causing them to underperform in this category. A plan of action to improve cleanliness at these stores should be paramount for your brand, whether or not an epidemic is present. Doing so will help elevate the overall guest experience, promote a positive image for your brand, and inspire customers to return to your stores again in the future.

As a restaurant operator, we know your guests’ well-being is important to your brand. In these uncertain times, stay vigilant in your approach to sanitation, and use all the tools available to help protect the health and safety of your customers.