Train Your Team to Reopen with Safety in Mind

Train Your Team to Reopen with Safety in Mind

Establish some basics to protect your team, your customers and your business.

Two things are essential for reopening your restaurant or foodservice dining room following COVID-19:

1. Follow the protocols set by state and local authorities.

2. Create your own company training and safety protection plan.

Local rules set the bar for resuming service, and they may vary by community. Training and safety measures are unique to your business--design them to protect team members and customers, and demonstrate your commitment to a healthy environment. Dan Longton, President and CEO of TraitSet, a foodservice training provider, suggests areas to focus on as you prepare to reopen.

Safe staffing. Education about safety is equally important to hospitality training. Consider:

  • Develop a COVID-19 response leader
  • Conduct training and testing on procedures
  • Designate a team member to monitor each shift
  • Implement employee health screening/temperature checks
  • Schedule team shifts so one exposed worker doesn’t endanger the entire team
  • Develop a plan to identify and contact exposed employees

Hand washing. Teach proper techniques as a first defense against spreading germs:

  • Post signs on doors and near sinks
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds using warm, soapy water
  • Dry hands with a single-use disposable towel
  • Use the towel to open doors, then properly dispose of towel
  • Wash hands hourly, and apply alcohol-based sanitizer after customer contact

Social distancing. Maintain team and customer safety by reducing unnecessary interaction: 

  • Where possible, provide work stations that maintain 6-foot distance
  • Stagger breaks so employees avoid contact 
  • Space tables and seat unrelated guest parties 6 feet apart
  • Provide marked waiting areas to assure distancing
  • Mark traffic patterns on the floor to reduce guest contact

Personal protection equipment (PPE). Address PPE use, whether the law requires it or not:

  • Train team how to properly secure (and remove) a mask over the mouth and nose
  • Educate team members about glove usage
  • Conduct practice on not touching your face while working
  • Provide masks to guests who arrive without them

Cleaning and sanitizing. Buckle down on cleaning regularly and thoroughly:

  • Follow instructions on cleaning products to assure effectiveness 
  • Train on the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting
  • Sanitize counters, tables and chairs, including the edges, after each use
  • Regularly wipe door knobs and pulls with sanitizing wipes
  • Disinfect restrooms at least hourly, and chart the process
  • Disinfect hard floors and deep clean carpets regularly

Customer contact. Reduce the risk of transmitting germs as people come and go:  

  • Conduct temperature checks upon entry*
  • Create a customer health questionnaire to be completed before entry*
    • *Ensure a second team member is there as a witness. For customers who raise red flags, offer takeout while they wait in their car
  • Offer cashless transactions
  • Enforce safe social distancing at smoking areas outside your business

Food safety. Don’t overlook back-of-the-house food and equipment handling: 

  • Educate your team on cleaning plates, utensils with proper detergents and temperatures
  • Clean and sanitize all food-contact surfaces (shelves, prep tables, slicers, pots, etc.)
  • Verify temperatures in coolers and freezers

Table safety. Make sure your team and customers are aware of your table policies:

  • Use disposable paper menus or sanitize laminated menus after every use
  • Sanitize salt/pepper shakers, condiment containers after every table turn
  • Keep hand sanitizer at each table
  • Eliminate communal condiment dispensers and drink dispenser stations
  • Use wrapped straws

Pickup and delivery. Continue to manage the safely of this vital part of your business:

  • Establish prepay to speed pickup and eliminate unnecessary contact
  • Create a curbside pickup zone to maintain social distancing
  • For indoor pickup, dedicate an area for orders and mark safe spacing boundaries
  • Offer touch-free delivery with sealed packages for tamper-proof assurance
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by using appropriate transport containers
  • Verify third-party delivery services are meeting your standards