How to maintain consumer confidence in safety even after restrictions have been lifted.

Restaurants are beginning to reopen indoor and outdoor dining spaces, but many consumers are still hesitant to dine in person. The right messaging can go a long way right now toward ensuring guests that it’s safe to do so. Get in front of the messaging by creating a plan and training your staff to consistently implement your restaurant’s safety protocols.

Create or Revisit Your Safety Plan

You may have a safety plan from the first few months of the pandemic that addresses cleaning, sanitizing, mask wearing, and social distancing measures within your restaurant. Take a look at that and make sure it still meets your needs. Look for updated CDC guidelines to learn what the current best practices are. If you don’t already have a plan, writing one is essential. Identify the steps you need to take to create a safe environment for staff and guests, and put it on paper. This should be the document that guides you through any decisions related to safety that you have to make in the next few months, from restaurant capacity to staff sick leave.

Get Together with Your Team

Once you have a plan, it’s time to train the team to execute it. Hold a staff meeting to share the plan and answer any questions. Run through various ‘what if’ scenarios to make sure you are prepared and on the same page. It can also be useful to have staff sign off on any safety protocols to acknowledge that they have received and read them.

Assess Equipment and Material Needs

Take a look at signage, equipment, cleaning and sanitation supplies, and PPE to make sure you have exactly what you need to execute your safety plan, and order anything you’ll need for the next few weeks. Consider updating signage and ordering disposable masks that you can offer to staff and guests if they need them.

Share Your Message

Now is the time to directly and candidly address your audience — those customers who subscribe to your newsletter and follow you on social media, as well as any press with whom you have a good rapport. Let folks know that you’re excited to reopen and what it means to you as a business owner and employer, and above all, how you plan to keep people safe. Be prepared to answer questions, and be honest about your intentions. Share this messaging multiple times in different ways to get the word out as much as possible.

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