Review your disaster response plan
A pandemic, record-setting inflation, supply-chain struggles, weather emergencies. As punishing as these times continue to be for the foodservice industry, they may also be affirming times for those who have managed to keep operations going. The businesses that are in the best position to survive in this dynamic environment tend to be those that have planned for emergencies. For better or worse, foodservice businesses are among the last businesses to close before a disaster and among the first expected to reopen after one, which makes emergency planning critical to keeping your staff and guests safe, protecting your operation’s sensitive information, and getting back on track quickly after a crisis.
Your disaster response plan is one piece of this effort. Your plan should establish a team with designated roles to help you manage in a crisis and include up-to-date information on emergency contacts, insurance coverages (limits may have changed in the current market), communication protocols and other information you need to manage the resources your business needs to resume operations after an interruption. If you need help, or simply a review of what’s important to have on hand, the National Restaurant Association recently released a guide entitled Always Ready: Natural Disasters to help restaurants prepare. It brings together best practices from human resources and risk managers from independent and national restaurant brands to recommend actions for operators to take before, during and after a natural disaster. You can find the guide at www.restaurant.org.
We’re all suffering from Covid fatigue – and a desire to get back to some semblance of pre-pandemic life. But restaurants are in a tough spot: They will likely be unable to relax pandemic safety policies while local regulations continue to change and the public’s concerns about safety rise and fall with the presence of new virus variants. (And for some time still, customers will be taking precautions based on their personal health and vaccination status.) How does a restaurant keep pace with the shifting environment – and keep staff informed about ever-evolving regulations? A recent report in The Atlantic about how we might manage the virus going forward may provide some clues. Several experts interviewed for the piece, including an infectious disease physician and global-health expert, anticipate we will adopt a tiered system of response – similar to how we categorize and respond to hurricanes. Rather than flipping a switch – masks or no masks, well-ventilated indoor dining or no indoor dining at all, for example – we can expect gradations. Future approaches will likely include pieces of the safety protocols you have had to adopt over the past two years – with some choice involved in how far a business goes. Going forward, how can you adapt your training procedures to flex with current environmental risks, as well as to concerns of employees and customers? Consider how you can provide just-in-time updates to trainees by packaging and delivering the content in new ways.