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Re-opening tips for your team

Many food service businesses within Australia have begun reopening. During this time excellent communication with staff, customers and suppliers is critical. Clear and open communication is vital, the following are important areas of communication that must be considered as a food business reopens:

Pre-Opening Communications

Communicate with staff

  • Contact and inform staff about reopening to determine how many staff will be returning.
  • Notify staff of regulations, rules and restrictions the food business must adhere to in order to reopen based on your state or territory.
  • Ensure staff  have the knowledge and skills to operate safely.
  • Ensure employees receive COVID-19 specific training before re-entering the workplace.
  • Ensure staff have completed food safety training and have current Statements of Attainment.
  • Enrol staff who are not current or do not have Statements of Attainment in a nationally recognised food safety training course.

Communicate on the following topics:

  • Symptoms of COVID-19
  • Instructions for calling in sick if COVID-19 symptoms are experienced
  • What to do if someone is displaying COVID-19 symptoms in the workplace
  • Proper hand washing technique (including the use of hand sanitiser)
  • Correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Work wear rules including laundering requirements

Communicate with suppliers

  • Inform suppliers of your reopening and confirm that they are still operating at this time.
  • Remember some suppliers are dealing with shortages due to the pandemic and they may not be able to meet your required quota. (food items and ingredients may not be available)
  • You may need to contact new suppliers to determine if they can meet your required supply and provide the types of items needed.
  • Ensure that new suppliers meet food safety requirements and criteria.

Communicate with customers

  • Take the time to communicate with your customers about the reopening.
  • If you have an online presence post on social media, send emails. Let them know when you’re reopening and any changes you’re making to business operations, include menu’s, opening hours, seating number etc
  • Let customers know beforehand what to expect so they will feel more comfortable and willing to dine in your establishment.

Keep staff informed

  • It is essential that you are always communicating with staff to ensure you have confident, knowledgeable staff who are following the operational requirements based on state or territory.
  • After reopening identify with your team what is working and what is not. Review processes and procedures that will need to be adjusted and reworked.
  • Team meetings may be the best way to manage feedback from staff to learn what can be improved on in order to keep the business running safely and efficiently.

Reassure your customers

  • After reopening keep communicating with your customers frequently. Open communication is key to reassuring your customers and keep them coming back.
  • Use may choose to use signage to communicate with your customers. Display signage at the entrance to your premises listing the requirements for entering. Inform customers of physical distancing rules, capacity/group limits and if personal protective equipment (PPE) is required upon entering.
  • Physical distancing signage including floor markers is an effective way to avoid any confusion with customers and demonstrates you are taking the rules seriously.
  • Ensure you address any customer concerns quickly and professionally. Customers may be nervous about eating out and many are acutely aware of COVID-19 health and safety procedures.
  • Many will not hesitate to voice their concerns if they see something that is a risk to their health.
  • Ensure you listen to all customer concerns and communicate what you will do in order to address the problem.
  • Customers are more likely to be frustrated, agitated or stressed during this time — listening to your customers and taking steps to address concerns can help to alleviate this.

Article by Jacqui Ward

Quality Systems & Food Safety Auditor

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