Managing a Restaurant’s ‘New Normal’ After COVID-19

Brian Carpizo

July 13, 2020

COVID-19 has proved to be a trying time for the restaurant industry with many restaurants unfortunately having shut their doors permanently after the mandated shutdown. Those that have survived are warmly welcoming the addition of dine-in and outdoor dining services, but even these come with limitations never before seen in restaurants: social distancing requirements, capacity limits, and more involved cleaning regimes.

David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group said that “Once you go down this rabbit hole [of government guidelines], it’s going to make your brain bleed”.

Complying with these new guidelines is not only paramount for the safety of employees and guests but it also ensures that a restaurant stays open, and that customers feel safe and comfortable dining at that location; that last point being the most important aspect of all! How do we manage this new and evolving normal of the post-COVID-19 lockdown era? How can technology help with reopening?

Follow the Guidelines

Three federal agencies, the FDA, the CDC, and OSHA have issued guidance pertaining to what measures and best practices restaurants can follow in order to keep their staff and customers safe. These are ‘guidelines’ and are not required by these federal agencies for the opening of restaurants, however, these are the guidelines which states and local municipalities are using as the basis for their own set of rules mandated for the opening of restaurants. Therefore, they’re an excellent starting point for business to make sure they’re on the right path.

Not all states and local municipalities are applying all of these guidelines to their region, yet some are going above and beyond these to ensure the safety of their residence and visitors. All in all this makes for a confusing world for restauranteurs and managers to navigate, often leading to high levels of stress and anxiety; two things we certainly don’t need in customer facing service establishments.

David Chang said that the “The most pragmatic thing we need to figure out right now is safety protocol”, and it is clear that keeping track of and following all local, state, and federal guidelines is key to a successful and sustained reopening of restaurants, but doing so is proving difficult.

Building Customer Confidence

Many customers are understandably anxious about going out and dining in public spaces. Restaurants need to build extra customer confidence during this COVID-19 pandemic so that their guests can feel safe and secure in their locations during this unprecedented time.

Having visible cues toward these safety measures such as masks, hand sanitizing stations, clear signage, plexiglass partitions, clearly marked waiting and walking zones, as well as a highly visible cleaning presence in the dining area are just some of the things restaurants can do to increase customer confidence in their establishment.

If customers have a high level of confidence in their and their party’s safety inside an establishment, they will feel much more relaxed and are therefore able to have a much more enjoyable experience when dining. Furthermore, this means that they’re more likely to return to that establishment along with recommending it to their friends.

Publishing Cleaning Protocol

Many restaurants are taking all this a step further and are posting customer requirements, “Your Part”, as well as the measures they are undertaking, “Our Part” at the entrance to their locations. This is not only to ensure a smooth dining experience for guests and staff alike but it is also there to show potential customers how they’re doing their due-diligence to ensure the safety of everyone in their establishment. This, in turn, greatly helps to increase customer confidence and can turn people walking by into the customers they might not have become had these informative signs not been in place.

How Can Technology Help?

The emergence of technologies has been the driving force behind the dining expereince in every style of restaurant around the country and technology can help us cope in many way. First-party service apps such as Lunchbox can help you provide a unique experience to your customers instead of your business becoming just another logo and meal amongst a variety of brands on apps like Grubhub and Uber eats. Contactless payments, QR codes on tables with access to digital versions of menus, online ordering, contactless delivery, and reservation app are all technologies we can use to help our customers feel safe and secure when eating in or from restaurants.

Recently released TrustPlace’s environmental, health and safety solution is designed to help restaurants navigate the confusing and ever-changing landscape of state and local municipalities guidelines and regulations by providing integrated cleaning schedules, compliance monitoring, and on-the-go work management all in one simple to use app. TrustPlace also allows restaurants to publish their plan and compliance levels to a public portal (by scanning a QR code) so that patrons can gain transparency and trust in their compliance levels.

Adhering to local, state, and federal guidelines is a must for a restaurant wishing to remain open during this difficult and different time. All restaurants are different and TrustPlace is designed to help you manage this new ever-evolving element of your business. You can increase customer confidence by using TrustPlace to manage your compliance and efficiently track cleaning routine now. For more information about TrustPlace’s restaurant solution, visit https://trustplace.app/industries/restaurants/.

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