A restaurant cheat sheet for better COVID-19 operations

Running your restaurant right now is no doubt a lot more complicated and frustrating than it was before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the world. There are many, many more items you need to remember as you follow state and local restrictions in order to prevent the spread, and an operational fail means a lot more than it did not too long ago.  

Streamlining restaurant operations and implementing COVID-19 cleaning and safety guidelines  isn’t easy to manage—especially with a small staff. Since operational mistakes are stressful and costly, wouldn’t you like to avoid them? 

The best way forward is to create a plan of action. With a solid strategy in place, you’ll be able to communicate your expectations to your team easily and efficiently. From there your restaurant operations will become scalable, allowing your business to grow.

Take a look at our cheat sheet and tailor it to fit your and your restaurant’s needs. 

1. Define your goals

Your team’s heath and safety is no doubt your biggest goal right now. Use OSHA’s guidelines on how to control and prevalent the spread of COVID-19 to create your goal plan. 

Operational goals that are well defined and communicated will help you plan in an effective way. You’ll also know when your objectives are reached. To get started, consider ways your team can help out individually to implement an efficient daily cleaning method and keep customers safe. 

2. Take notes

Once you have solid goals in place,  write them down and establish a written protocol. You’ll need objectives in mind to start identifying your processes. Here is where you want to note the operational process down step-by-step. 

The most important factor is to set up a clear plan for any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. Create a written protocol and give it to your entire team to ensure they are up to speed on how they are expected to contribute to a safe workplace. 

Your plan should include: 

  • Sick employees stay home 
  • A notification procedure for symptomatic employees
  • A point of contact for COVID-related issues
  • Remedial sanitization measures for impacted employees
  • Triggering event identifications for quarantine procedure
  • Quarantine duration and conditions for return
  • Social distancing requirements
  • Required PPE for employees and customers 

3. Think ahead

Your goals are written down, and your plan is. But don’t stop there. Now you need to get proactive about your ideas and put them into play. 

Think through possible speed bumps, such as newly implemented local restrictions on customer count and social distancing, that may slow your new operational plans. An employee may begin to exhibit symptoms, leaving your assembly line down one person for quite some time. 

One efficient solution to combat this challenge would be to double up responsibilities among your healthy team. It’s emergency situations likee this that you need to anticipate and work flexible options into your operational strategy, especially in these rapidly changing times. 

Pro tip: Use a flow chart to visualize complex processes. Many of your new operational steps require constant communication, like whose cleaning what? Are your tables properly distanced?  Flowcharting your operational plan gives everyone a chance to see what’s expected and when they will need to communicated with different team members.  

4. Test Your new operations flow

Now it’s time to put your new operational flow to work. Pay attention to how your employees react and pick up their new cleaning, social distancing, and sanitizing routines. It’s very important to request feedback on your plans so they can point out the roadblocks you may have missed from the previous step. 

Asking for team feedback also shows that you value their opinions as a manager. And finally, getting others’ opinions ensures everyone is clear on what is expected of them moving forward. 

5. Make it official

With your new plan in place, you’ll have happy customers leaving safe, healthy, and satisfied with their experience. Make it official with an operational manual to ensure long-term success and give your team and customers peace of mind that you are staying in line with all necessary precautions and regulations. 

Insert the service objectives and flow chart from above as team member guidelines. It may feel a little unnecessary to build an operational manual for a small business, but with the plethora of new tactics to remember, it can be easy to forget one or two items. This could lead to unhappy—or even worse, unhealthy—customers. And that is a costly outcome you should want to avoid. 

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