Operational excellence and food safety culture are critical.
The restaurant industry is experiencing an unprecedented “perfect storm,” with another COVID-19 surge, staff shortages, and customers demanding more transparency around safety and quality. Restaurants may have been closed during the pandemic or running with a skeleton crew, and now they’re trying to ramp up with more customers, fewer employees, and new regulations, procedures, and checklists. It feels like building a bike while trying to ride it simultaneously. Therefore, any tools that bring consistency and quality assurance are essential to operations teams, who need solutions to get everyone aligned around quality assurance and standards.
Restaurants are trying to recruit, hire, and train new employees, implement new SOPs, keep up with city, state, and national regulatory agencies and ever-evolving pandemic information—while also running their business and keeping everyone safe. It’s stressful and overwhelming for many.
Restaurants navigating this difficult time would be wise to:
Prioritize safety and quality. Operational excellence and food safety culture are critical as restaurants continue to face the emerging twists and turns the pandemic keeps tossing their way. And today’s customers are demanding to see increased safety measures, including constant cleaning and sanitation, mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand sanitizing stations. While it was once acceptable for restaurants to practice safety protocols “behind the scenes,” customers now want to see the steps you’re taking to protect them—or they’ll opt to dine elsewhere.
Use digital tools to increase safety compliance and minimize risks. Tech tools ensure that employees are aligned on the rules, that procedures are properly monitored and enforced, and cleaning, sanitation, and safety efforts are elevated amid the ongoing pandemic. This is more critical than ever, as restaurants work with limited staff and are often stretched too thin. Busy employees may inadvertently miss a manual safety check during a hectic shift, and that one innocent mistake could have serious ramifications that damage your brand. In contrast, digital tools provide proof that safety protocols are being followed, giving restaurant owners and managers peace of mind.
Invest your limited resources wisely. While it may seem unrealistic to spend money this year, purchasing digital quality management toolsets will help get new staff up to speed quickly and simplify important administrative tasks for all employees. Today’s digital tools are affordable, accessible, and user-friendly—and will provide a high ROI.
Train continuously. Training should not be a one-time effort on an employee’s first day of work. It should be an ongoing effort, and tech tools can help. These solutions can reinforce important messages to employees—including protocol changes, training reminders, and real-time COVID updates—right on their smartphones.
Create a food safety culture. This should come from the top and be prioritized at all levels, with every employee understanding the importance of these initiatives. The industry is largely experiencing a “reset” of staff and culture, with many teams feeling the pinch of systems not flowing smoothly. Differentiate your brand by prioritizing safety and quality and baking it into your company culture. This will attract employees looking for a safe place to work and will also make customers more comfortable knowing that you prioritize safety.
Empower your employees. Increase employees’ efficiency and knowledge by providing ongoing training, education, and safety reminders. Encourage them to follow safety protocols every day, with every shift. Give them more responsibility and ownership for safety and quality initiatives, and they will feel more invested in the effort.
Conduct regular self-assessments. This helps ensure all safety and quality protocols are being followed. Self-assessments should supplement regular in-person and/or remote third-party inspections. This will help your team find (and fix) problems before they become liabilities.
Increase productivity and efficiency, and reduce labor costs. Digital systems are faster, easier, and more accurate than manual processes. This allows businesses to do more, even with limited staff.
Communicate up-to-the-minute COVID protocols and vaccination requirements. Tech tools help communicate constantly evolving regulations and protocols to all staff. For instance, ever-changing vaccination requirements are impacting hospitality businesses in certain areas, e.g., New York City is now requiring proof of vaccination to dine in local restaurants. Whether you’re a single unit or a multi-chain enterprise, it’s critical to push information out to all staff in real-time. Tech tools are so much more reliable than paper notices on a staff bulletin board, which busy employees may miss.
It’s clear that we’re still not back to any semblance of “normal” yet, as the Delta variant causes another COVID surge. While restaurants work to recover from the pandemic, tech tools can help them immensely in many ways, improving safety, quality, productivity, efficiency, and accuracy. Any tools that bring consistency and quality assurance are going to be beneficial to operations teams, who are looking for solutions to align everyone around quality assurance and safety standards—especially as many restaurants face staff shortages or are onboarding new employees. It may feel unrealistic to invest in technology now, during such a disruptive time, but I assure you that this is the smartest spend you can make right now and will pay off exponentially over the long-term.
As president of RizePoint, Kari Hensien is passionate about finding the right auditing, quality system management, and supplier certification management for the unique and specific business needs of every customer. Her goal is to find ways to streamline and automate existing customer programs, so quality leaders and do less admin work and make more meaningful business contributions. If you want to learn more about buying a QMS, download this FREE EBOOK. If you wish to discuss RizePoint’s solutions, please contact Kari at firstname.lastname@example.org.