Socially distant, but closer than ever. Can’t be touched, but not out of touch. These are some of the phrases that have been thrown around in this socially distant reality that COVID-19 has imposed in 2020. Now that food and beverage services are resuming with restrictions in place, how can you show off your restaurant’s hospitality in a way that’s both safe and personable?
While you already have your hygiene and social protocol down pat, you should never lose sight of personalised service. Check-ins, QR code menus, masks and the lack of physical contact have the potential to dehumanise the restaurant experience — but only if you allow it.
Beyond publishing advisories and social media and email marketing, you can still connect with your diners in the restaurant. Whether it’s leveraging technology solutions or sprucing up human-to-human service, you can bring a smile to your diners’ face — even if you’re both behind masks.
1. Use masks as an extension of your brand
With staff and diners both wearing masks, restaurants are finding it increasingly difficult to appear warm and friendly when only the top half of a facial expression can be seen. However, a limitation can provide breathing room for creativity. A great opportunity to reinforce your restaurant brand, consider a unique mask design as part of your staff uniform.
Whether it’s adding an iron-on patch, a sticker, or a pin to a standard issue cloth mask, or designing disposable masks, custom masks are a great way to stand out and make the dining experience more memorable.
As staff go about service, ensure that they speak clearly as the mask tends to muffle speech. Speak up so that your diners get the message.
2. Make grand gestures
Open new doors for your diner, literally. Chivalry isn’t dead. To prevent surface-to-surface transmission, avoid contact across multiple touchpoints as possible. As the entrance and exit points are high traffic areas of your restaurant, assign a staff to open and close the door for diners. If your restaurant has sliding doors that aren’t automatic, ensure staff are the ones who will help them press the button.
This staff member can also be the restaurant’s safety steward who’s responsible for checking in guests, taking their temperature, and ensuring that they use a hand sanitiser before being seated. If your restaurant does not have an automatic hand sanitiser dispenser, your staff should be the one assisting diners in using it. The less diners physically touch shared surfaces, the better.
3. Leverage diner directory, diner notes, and a table management system
With COVID-19 altering the needs of diners, Chope’s online reservation system allows them to input special requests at the point of booking. This helps staff prepare for their arrival. By knowing who to expect, staff can address the diner by name, show his or her dining group to the table they asked for which has been set to their liking. All this data is then stored in your restaurant’s diner directory on ChopeBook, which is an asset to any staff with access to the system.
As a restaurant, this last step before diners hit the “book” button is also crucial, as you can input disclaimers such as capacity limitations, health declarations, and other non-negotiables. This saves you the hassle from ringing up the diners to inform them of such restrictions, and it avoids any ambiguity when the diner shows up.
Encouraging diners to make reservations online also assists your restaurant in preparing the table for incoming diners so that hygiene protocols don’t interfere with their experience. With a bird’s eye view of incoming reservations on ChopeBook and ChopeCloud, you can schedule the cleaning of shared surfaces so that this action is seamless and hidden from guests.
Access our COVID-19 Resource Centre for advisories, infographics and articles on navigating the restaurant industry.
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