“We’ll get through this together.” The saying may have already reached cliché status, but we can recognize the wisdom in it. By sharing knowledge and resources, by coordinating efforts, we can face the pandemic more aptly and emerge from it stronger than we could alone.
Are you seeing this play out for your organization’s COVID task force and dining program? If not, here are some ways you can maximize synergy in order to ensure safety, maintain as much consistency as possible, and dream up creative solutions.
1. Discuss Standards & Options
By now, your hospitality partner has shared its dining program playbook, and you and your COVID task force are familiar with it. Now, be sure to clarify which points are standards and which are options.
Standards aren’t optional; they’re based on expert advice and state executive orders. At Creative Dining Services, our expert direction is provided by state and local government and health codes and executive orders, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Restaurant Association. For instance, the standard for social distancing requires six feet of space, non-negotiable.
But there are different options for meeting this standard. You could use signage, floor stickers, turn servery into a one-way to direct traffic, use stations and roping to keep people apart. You could also have staff respectfully reminding customers of social distancing. Which options are correct for your diners and locations? Discuss this with your dining program leaders. And, be aware that as new information is released daily from the CDC and other credible sources, standards and options will evolve.
2. Make Room for Collaboration
Although things are moving fast and collaboration may sometimes feel like losing momentum, the fact is that it increases safety and creativity.
Your COVID task force and dining program should collaborate closely to ensure consistency. Communicating about and cooperating on safety measures will result in efficiencies and a unified voice driving compliance. (We’ve been excited to see that many of our clients have taken the Creative Dining Services COVID-19 playbook and incorporated it into their response plan!)
Collaboration can also mean sharing resources. For instance, we needed more safe outdoor seating at one of our accounts. We contacted the city and borrowed 150 picnic tables that are only used during a summer festival—which had been canceled. We dispersed them throughout campus.
3. Open Smaller
To improve safety, consider the idea of opening smaller with your dining team.
Offering fewer options aids in line and density management. Diners will be able to decide more quickly, helping them move faster and reducing lingering. This will help prevent long backups at peak times. Yes, diners are used to many options and a high degree of customization, but your dining provider can still offer a great experience with fewer menu options.
Consider other ideas with your dining team that prevent larger groups from gathering, like extending dining hours, offering more remote pick-up areas, or incorporating delivery systems.
4. Meet More Frequently
Once your task force and dining program are in alignment, the work’s not done. You must touch base at least monthly.
Even the best projections and plans will evolve, as no one has experience operating during a global pandemic. Meet often, and be flexible and willing to pivot. Keep the focus on the next two weeks—not six months—to allow you and your dining leaders to make adjustments as needed.
You and your dining program leaders are on the same team. You share the desire to serve your customers well. With the proper alignment and planning, your task force and dining team can continue to deliver a great dining experience and food that’s delicious, nutritious, and safe.
Interested in more customized support and recommendations? We’re here to serve you. Set up your free, no-obligation Dining Program Consultation today.