Waitress at restaurant

It’s vitally important that restaurants and other small businesses protect their customers, their employees and their bottom lines.

As the COVID-19 virus spreads, restaurants are reporting 50 percent drops in business. It’s bad enough that customers are not dining in the numbers they had been a few weeks ago. But making things more difficult is that food service businesses need to remain extra vigilant because none of them wants to become ‘restaurant zero’ in case of a local COVID-19 virus outbreak.

With this in mind, it’s vitally important that restaurants and other small businesses protect their customers, their employees and their bottom lines. Here are six key actions owners can take now to mitigate the risks:

1. Review procedures with staff.
If you haven’t already, go over important safety procedures with the staff. Hand washing is a must. Also, food prep safety should be reviewed and underscored. And, of course, go through the importance of the wait staff interacting with guests but without touching or even giving the appearance of contact between themselves and the guests’ food.

Also, it’s important to wash down surfaces of technology screens and other pieces of equipment that get touched. Apple recently announced that it is fine to wipe down the surface of phones and tablets with disinfecting wipes.

2. Analyze different ‘what if’ scenarios
Speaking of interacting with guests, it goes without saying that no two customers are alike. You never know who’s coming through that door next. It’s important to think through what the staff should do in a variety of situations. For instance, what if a customer comes into the restaurant sneezing? Do you politely hand them a tissue? Do you ask if they have a fever? Do you seat them away from other guests? Analyzing these scenarios before they happen will make the staff more confident that they will be able to handle any situation that might come about.

3. Get the communication right.
Your employees want to know that their welfare is paramount in your mind. Make sure they understand this important fact. Let them know that they are being protected and the business is preparing for all situations (see #2 above).

At the same time, it’s important to communicate to customers that their welfare is also important. It might be a good idea to go on social media and talk about the various steps your restaurant or other small business is taking to ensure a clean, safe environment for customers to enjoy. Let them know that you’re still open for business and that you still have the same items they’ve come to know and love.

4. Evaluate your vendors and your supply chain.
Do you have exotic ingredients that might not be available due to constraints in shipping or overseas supply chains? If so, now might be the right time to start revamping your menu to make sure you can still satisfy guests with other options while their favorite dish is unavailable.

5. Keep an eye on cash flow.
A slowdown in business is never fun but they can be manageable if you keep a close eye on cash flow. In other words, try to minimize any unnecessary expenditures, decrease expenses wherever possible and keep credit lines open and available in case they become necessary. Hold on to cash as much as you can.

6. Don’t forget about other risks to your business.
While the COVID-19 virus continues to take up a majority of the news headlines, it’s not the only risk small business owners face. There’s always the potential for employee theft and cybersecurity threats.

With any luck, the COVID-19 crisis will run its course in a relatively short amount of time. Keep the above actions in place to help your business get through the rough times.

Have questions about cleaning technology or other operational issues during the COVID-19 crisis? Contact us today for more information.