Whether you run a restaurant, grocery store, or convenience mart, you need a business plan for recovery from COVID-19. As you restart business operations after the pandemic, the key is to invest in your food safety culture. Strengthening your food safety culture can not only help you regain customer confidence but also prepare you to weather future crises.
Here are three steps to get you started.
1. Get executive support.
Initiatives without support from leadership rarely succeed, which is why you must ensure top executives understand your rationale. Emphasize how a strengthened food safety culture can not only improve the company’s bottom line but also foster team cohesion and help meet corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives. To get and keep their buy-in, be sure to also seek their input when crafting your plan for improving your company’s food safety culture.
To maintain the trust and loyalty of your employees and rebuild customer confidence, it’s important you take an employee-first approach to food safety. The goal is to ensure every employee knows both the “what” and the “why” of your food safety culture.
To achieve this goal, underscore the importance of a strong and consistent food safety culture through training and communications.
For example, now is the ideal time to brush off your training materials and update them to create new best practices for front-line employees. Shockingly, many organizations are still struggling with the basics: In fact, just over half of restaurants offer a training manual or food safety certifications. Formalizing your commitment to food safety culture cements its importance.
Be sure to emphasize the measures you’re taking to address health and safety following the pandemic. Clear and consistent communications — during team meetings and safety huddles, throughout your location and in breakrooms, and in team emails and text messages — help send the message home.
Customers don’t want rhetoric from businesses; They want to see visible commitments. That’s why it’s key for your employees to know what’s expected of them.
3. Share your plan with the public.
The final component of your reopening plan is to inform the public about your food safety culture. Following COVID-19, they’ll want to hear what strategies you’re using to ensure their health and safety. So, use all the communication channels at your disposal — from email and text messages to social media and in-store signage — to publicize the precautions you’re taking.
As you seek to reopen your restaurant, grocery store, or convenience mart, you need a plan to keep employees and customers safe. Central to that plan is a strong food safety culture. By fostering executive support, gaining employee buy-in, and sharing your plan with the public, you’re sure to be successful.
Ready to check out digital solutions that help communicate, track, and improve your food safety culture efforts? Click here to learn more about RizePoint’s COVID-19 and enterprise solutions that help you gather data, gain transparency, and initiate corrective action.
COVID-19 “hibernation” is over — albeit in varying degrees, depending on where you live. Although most retail, restaurant, and hotel chains are eager to reopen, many consumers remain wary.
As you work to rebuild your business, it’s important to not only foster a food safety culture, but also share your health and safety protocols with the public.
Say It Loud & Say It Proud
In a recent survey from Rakuten Ready, consumers cited “frequent and open communication” as the most important factor in whether they feel safe visiting local businesses. That means adopting new health and safety routines isn’t enough to bring customers back. If you don’t execute a robust health and safety communication strategy, they might not know that your establishment is safe to visit.
To successfully reopen your business, implement these tips for effective health and safety communication.
1. Use all the communication channels available.
The public consumes content in a wide variety of formats, so reach them often and everywhere. While your previous messages might have focused on services you continued to provide, such as curbside pickup or delivery, you now want to underscore that you have health and safety top of mind as you reopen.
Your health and safety communication strategy could include:
Posts and videos on social media channels.
Postcards mailed to homes in your defined service area.
Reminder messages sent with purchase or reservation confirmations.
Signage on your location’s door and in the windows.
Posted daily logs/checklists of tasks employees are doing at each location.
Media outreach to local and/or leading industry publications.
Fliers that you include with delivery orders to entice them to enjoy in-person service.
Blog posts that detail your new processes.
2. Make your messages consistent & authentic.
Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes: You know all the precautions you’re taking, but they don’t. That’s why you don’t want to inadvertently belittle how they feel (It’s time to leave your house!”) or gloss over the details (“We’re following all recommended sanitation procedures.”) Instead, acknowledge their potential anxiety and describe in detail the steps you are taking to ensure their safety.
When it comes to health and safety communication, it’s best to show, not tell. Post pictures of your employees wearing masks and wiping down surfaces. Publish a short video that shows the behind-the-scenes work you’ve done to get your establishment ready. Host a livestream, where you walk them through your new policies and procedures.
3. Make sure you’re following through.
Nothing will send customers running faster than seeing a violation of rules. So, make sure your employees do what you say they will. To help your practices match your rhetoric, invest in employee training and commitment.
This is a time when you don’t want to clean subtly. Customers want to see your efforts with their own eyes.
Do you have hand sanitizer available as customers enter and throughout the store?
Are you promoting social distancing through the placement of tables, queuing practices, and occupancy numbers?
Are employees wearing masks and actively wiping down surfaces? (Think counters, credit card readers, light switches, door handles, menus…anything customers are regularly touching.)
Have you posted and explained your protocols for waiting in line or trying on merchandise?
Use This Opportunity to Polish Your Reputation
We’re often unsure of what consumers crave. But following the pandemic, there’s no doubt: They’re hungry for effective health and safety communication.
To establish your business as a leader with both new and returning customers, implement an effective health and safety communication strategy that highlights your new processes as competitive differentiators.
How many things are you working on to get ready for reopening? 15? 50? 500? Every business working toward reopening safely and profitably has a mile-long task list, one of the most critical being your COVID-19 response.
You need a clear plan for what your new procedures will be, how to communicate these to employees and customers, and how to implement and track everything. The consequences of missing steps could be contributing to virus spread, damage to your brand, and even more, lost revenue. But how do you pull together a detailed plan quickly enough to reopen?
RizePoint and Savvy Food Safety and other industry leaders to create expert-built Back-to-Business Bundles for several industries that take you step-by-step through the processes and training you need to manage coronavirus. No more guesswork about what should go on your health and safety checklists, interpreting CDC guidelines, how to train employees on new procedures, or whether all locations are working from up-to-date policies.
With this all-in-one package for COVID-19 solutions, you get:
Step-by-step guidance on understanding COVID-19, developing effective mitigation strategies and designing and implementing a plan for your business
Compliant video training material to augment in-person training
Roll-up reporting dashboard to spot areas of noncompliance and proactively mitigate risks and outbreaks
Our Back-to-Business Bundle is designed to help you get moving as quickly as possible with clear, useful direction.
Every business has its own language and nuanced needs. That’s why we partnered with industry experts to make sure these guides take your specific requirements into account. For employees to take these requirements seriously, they need to know it was built with their jobs in mind. We have guides to serve:
Consistency & Clarity
Effective risk mitigation relies on employees doing the right thing, in the right way, every time. If employees didn’t understand the new directives or remember what to do, having the plan is pointless. Using Mobile Auditor, your forms and processes are always up-to-date, accessible, and consistent across each location and the company as a whole.
With training built into these bundles, you aren’t left wondering what message employees received or whether everything was covered. You get strategies for clear communication that improves information retention.
Ease of Use
We do the heavy lifting on COVID-19 solution, so you can focus on the details of your business. Go from confusion to control with implementation in just a few days.
Plus, pre-built forms in a mobile app make sure you know what to focus on. RizePoint has collected and interpreted government recommendations, so there’s no second guessing on whether the information you found is reliable. Forms also come with automatic updates as recommendations evolve.
A proactive response is only possible with visibility. By putting assessments in a mobile app, you have a digital record of actions taken. Reports in a roll-up dashboard let you see where one or more locations may be struggling with compliance so you can address it immediately.
No workplace can be perfect, which is why education and correction is part of the package. Corrective action is built into the forms, so if an issue comes up, it can be fixed immediately. You have records of the effort you are making to develop, implement, and reinforce best practices for COVID-19 mitigation.
You don’t need to be an expert in COVID-19 solutions. That’s what our Back-to-Business Bundle is for. Let us walk you step-by-step through developing and implementing your plan. Then you can get back to doing what you love.
The novel coronavirus changed the world overnight. Now, almost as quickly as things shut down, states are beginning to lift restrictions, and businesses must create health and safety checklists for COVID-19 response. Navigating potential COVID-19 solutions isn’t easy, and the consequences of getting it wrong are far reaching.
Not adequately protecting employees and customers can damage your brand, lead to a lawsuit or insurance premium increases, or ultimately hit revenue hard enough that you go out of business. With stakes this high, you need to feel confident that you have a step-by-step plan to mitigate risk while you get back to business.
While the need for a more comprehensive plan is immediate, getting it right will help your business through the length of the pandemic and help you build a safer business far into the future. With that in mind, what do you need to consider as you formulate a plan to survive and grow as you reopen?
1. Understand COVID-19
You can’t fight what you don’t understand. To create a safer working environment and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spread in your stores, it’s important that you have accurate, up-to-date information about:
How the virus spreads
Protective measures that are most effective
Local and national guidelines and risk levels
Look to reputable sources like the CDC and your state or county health department for the most current information to inform your COVID-19 response.
2. Develop Screening, Safety, and Sanitation Procedures
With information in hand about how the novel coronavirus operates, you can begin to develop updated policies for your stores. You cannot rely on employees to know intuitively how often different surfaces should be sanitized or that delivery personnel will be aware of what precautions they should take.
Expanded digital health and safety checklists are critical to effective COVID-19 solutions, as is providing whatever personal protective equipment is appropriate and needed for employees. Taking proactive steps to build updated procedures builds trust with your employees that you care about their health, which, in turn, instills confidence in customers that you have taken the time to learn and follow best practices.
3. Use the Best Tools for the Job
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever that businesses can no longer rely on paper and pen methodsto gather quality, health, and safety data at every store location. Manual process are slow, they’re more susceptible to human error or “fudging results,” and they can’t provide the fast insights you need to ensure all your standards and policies are being met.
When you look for a digital solution, it should include an easy-to-use app that employees can use on mobile devices that quickly syncs with layered reporting that shows up-to-the-minute data about the health of your store operations.
4. Communicate & Train
Building an expert COVID-19 response is useless without communicating your standards to employees and customers and training employees on new procedures. A single conversation is not enough to educate employees on what they need to do and reinforce that these standards are important and will be enforced.
Reinforcing training takes work and is most effective when you combine multiple modalities, such as visual aids, written and verbal instruction, and video documentation. The more often you reinforce, the better your employees’ retention and observance will be.
5. Empower Management
Some employees and customers may try to push boundaries to become more lax in carrying out these new guidelines. Your managers need to play a proactive role in establishing and enforcing store policies for your COVID-19 response. Make sure they know what their responsibilities are, and that regional and corporate managers will help back them up in establishing a safety culture.
Trying to balance all those different pieces, in addition to everything else you need for reopening, can be overwhelming. So what are your options to create an effective, fact-based plan?
Everyone loves a custom-built solution. You get a perfectly fit coronavirus response plan for your specific business. However, that perfect fit comes with a higher price tag and longer time to implement.
Ready-made digital audit tools are more sophisticated and affordable than ever. You get a solution that can be up and running in a few days, at a price that won’t kill your budget. You can still get industry-specific guidance, while moving quickly to get back to business.
Consultants can vary in price, but you do get advice tailored to your business’s specific needs. The downside is that you are often still left to implement recommendations on your own.
4. Build Your Own
It’s tempting to take full control over researching and implementing your new procedures. But researching and building your own health and safety checklists can be a big drain on time and resources, which will necessarily continue for maintenance and further development. Plus, homegrown solutions can leave you open to missing critical steps without expert advice.
We know the COVID-19 cognitive overload is real. You and other business owners are struggling with the many new tasks, decisions, and guidelines coming your way. You can take some of that off your plate with RizePoint’s Back-to-Business Bundle. We walk you through everything you need to consider as you build COVID-19 solutions to carry you through reopening and into the future.
It’s hard to overstate the impact of COVID-19. Seemingly overnight, businesses across industries have had to adapt to fluctuating work practices, diminishing sales, and volatile markets. The truth is, “business as usual” no longer exists. Like it or not, now is the time to adjust to our new normal. And finding effective COVID-19 solutions is the first step.
Your job is more crucial to the success of your company than ever before. In the coming months, you’ll likely be expected to implement new safety protocols and foster an intensified safety culture. Quality management software (QMS) can help you make that happen.
Below, you’ll find three key benefits of leveraging QMS to manage your quality program, during the pandemic and beyond.
Benefit #1: Build a Consistent Safety Culture
Quality management doesn’t take place in a vacuum. To effectively do your job, you need to manage stakeholders both inside and outside of your company’s walls. Without their buy-in, you’re unlikely to make progress.
Stakeholders are equally important when fostering a safety culture. But without the right tools, it’s painstaking work. From establishing new protocols to delivering consistent messaging, you’re stuck doing everything manually, which eats up your time.
Quality management software (QMS) makes it simple to roll out new policies and guidelines across your company and all store locations, ensuring no stakeholders are missed. Plus, centralized documentation that’s readily available to your suppliers helps extend your safety culture outside your walls. It also ensures your messaging is consistent from stakeholder to stakeholder, which strengthens your safety culture.
Benefit #2: Put Customer Health & Safety First
Every industry is affected by COVID-19, but those that rely on in-person contact with their customers are especially vulnerable. If you work for a restaurant or hotel, for example, you’ll need to increase your sanitation efforts and demonstrate your commitment to customer safety to rebuild their confidence.
Quality management software (QMS) can help you organize and build a quality management system that ensures customer health and safety. It allows you to prepare for new standards in quality, safety, and compliance, and seamlessly communicate changing protocols across multiple stakeholders and locations. Informed and empowered employees go a long way toward boosting customer confidence.
Benefit #3: Assess, Monitor & Report on Quality
Our new reality is sure to bring an uptick in assessments, inspections, and audits. Combined with your existing workload, this will make it impossible to use spreadsheets to manually track quality concerns.
Quality management software (QMS) can help you succeed. Not only can you monitor quality through centralized, standardized, and easy-to-run reports, but you can conduct remote audits across every location of your business. Plus, you can gain access to useful tools like COVID-19 audit checklists built by industry experts.
Looking for a COVID-19 solution for your business? Get free safety and sanitation audit checklists and gain access to auditing software with RizePoint’s Free Solution. If you like what you see, sign up. You’ll be up and running within a week.
No matter your industry, COVID-19 has affected your business. New regulations, guttering sales, and an uncertain forecast are only the beginning. If you rely on direct contact with your customers — if you’re in restaurants, hospitality, grocery, or retail — you’re also facing a crisis of confidence. Right now is the best time to start building towards a post-COVID-19 future, starting with restoring employee confidence. When employees feel secure and empowered in their work environment, your customers will also feel safe to return.
Prioritize a Safe Work Culture
Every workplace has a specific and identifiable culture that, like any other culture, includes attitudes, values, and practices. This goes beyond stated rules and in fact could better be described as everything that determines what’s happening when no one is watching.
An employee-first work culture centers the experience of a business’ employees and values their feedback. Their safety — both physical and emotional — is of concern to the business and steps are taken to protect it. Employee-first workplaces prioritize employee (and customer) safety over cost and, indeed, understand that a successful business cannot afford not to develop a safe work culture. Businesses that turn their back on this approach tend to weather high employee turnover, costly product recalls, regulatory sanctions, and a lack of customer confidence.
Elements of a Safe Work Culture
Developing a safe work culture isn’t complicated and it should be a deliberate aspect of quality management. You’ll need buy-in from managers so it’s important to be able to articulate to them what you’re trying to achieve. Here are some elements of businesses with safe employee-first work cultures:
Adequate time and money are allocated to safety training
Tools and machinery are regularly maintained and replaced as needed
There is a written safety plan, accessible to all employees and management, that outlines the latest information about how the workplace will be kept safe
There is a documented process for employees to express concerns
These items will help management understand your goals and measure their efforts. The process of involving your employees in your safety processes will help them not only understand the importance of maintaining a safe workplace but also feel safe, reassured, and empowered themselves. An informed and secure staff will inspire the confidence of your customers when the time comes to reopen.
Use the Right Tools for the Job
Quality management has long been far too complicated to carry out in spreadsheets but now the stakes are even higher. As a quality management professional, your job just got a whole lot harder. Whatever the current effects of COVID-19 on your business, you can be sure that going forward there will be stricter regulations, greater scrutiny, and even higher expectations from your internal management, your employees, and your customers.
You can get ahead of this challenge, starting with RizePoint’s free safety and sanitation audit checklists. Designed specifically to help you manage the quality concerns of pandemics like COVID-19, this automated tool empowers you to gather better data and get more meaningful insights so you can act faster.
Now more than ever, safety is everyone’s concern. Planning the future of your workplace using an employee-first approach will help you inspire confidence in those who matter most.