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Customers today have many concerns about food safety, hygiene, and infection, and this makes it harder for them to unwind and enjoy themselves in a restaurant.

That’s a shame, because most customers are really longing for a return to normalcy. They want to feel like they can still go out and have a good time in their favorite restaurant or bar, without fearing for their own safety. If you’re a restaurant owner, your number one goal should be to reassure your customers that they can still safely enjoy a great meal in your restaurant. But how can you do that?

Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a list of our favorite tips to help you reassure customers that they can still relax and enjoy themselves in your restaurant. Keep reading for a run-down on how you can keep your customers safe, happy, and loyal in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Talk to your customers

Communication is so important. When you’re in the service industry, you need to have a really strong understanding of what your customers want. And that’s never been more important than now, in the midst of COVID. The world looks different today than it ever has before, and expectations are changing all the time.

This is a great time to check in with people in your area and see what kinds of concerns they have. What’s important to them right now? What will make them feel safe enough to come back to your restaurant?

Reach out to your customers on social media, or send out a survey by email. Ask people how they feel about common COVID precautionary measures like

  • Temperature scans for those entering the restaurant
  • Availability of indoor and outdoor dining
  • Glove-wearing and other PPE (personal protective equipment)
  • Disposable, single-use menus

Of course, you should follow the safety guidelines from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). But it doesn’t hurt to also listen to your customers and get a sense of what matters most to them. After all, they’re the ones you want to visit your restaurant, so it’s a good idea to make them feel comfortable.

You’ll probably find that they appreciate being asked, too. Communication makes people feel safe, and valued. And that, in turn, tends to create loyal customers!

Make social distancing easy

Experts agree that social distancing is one of the best ways to stay safe during the COVID outbreak. That’s why as a restaurant owner, you need to make sure that your customers can socially distance easily when they come to your restaurant.

Some of the best ways to do this are by:

  • Spacing tables so that you leave at least six feet in between each table. This should be done for both indoor and outdoor tables.
  • Spacing seats at the bar. Consider adding plexiglass partitions between barstools so that customers can sit side by side without posing a danger to each other.
  • Creating barriers wherever possible, like around a hostess stand or at the cash register.
  • Using tape, signage, and physical barriers to show your customers where to stand on line when waiting for a table, pick up food, or use the bathroom.

It’s a good idea to put up signs in prominent places around the restaurant, explaining your social distancing policy. This will reassure your customers that you take the issue seriously, and that you value their health.

Putting up signs will also make it easier to correct any customer or employee who isn’t following the policy.

Put together a disinfection schedule

Your customers want to spend time in clean, fresh-smelling places. The more sanitary your restaurant is, the happier your customers will be. It’s just easier to relax in clean spaces.

We recommend setting up a schedule so that your staff knows exactly when they should clean and disinfect your restaurant. Tables, chairs, and other surfaces should get wiped down and disinfected on a regular basis. High-touch surfaces, like door knobs, should be frequently sanitized.

When you’re cleaning, choose a high quality, professional cleaning product. Cif is a  great example of a product which disinfects and cleans, all without any chemical odors or residue. After all, you want a product which will leave your restaurant smelling fresh and inviting.

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Offer plenty of options

Your customers will be more comfortable if you offer them lots and lots of choices about how to visit your restaurant.

If possible, offer your guests the choice between indoor and outdoor dining. (Make sure that the tables are spaced at least six feet apart, even in your outdoor dining area.) Try to make delivery available, and offer a curbside pickup option.

Many customers have said they’d like the option to use disposable plastic cutlery and paper plates. It’s a good idea to make that available for customers who prefer it. This is a great way to let customers know that their preferences matter.

It’s also a good idea to provide hand sanitizer to your guests. Make sure you’re offering a high-quality hand sanitizer like Seventh Generation, with a great scent. Guests will appreciate the fact that you’re looking after their needs.

Make the wait safe

It is recommended to minimize the amount of time that your customers spend waiting for their tables, or waiting to pick up food. That’s because in general, customers shouldn’t spend more time in your restaurant than they have to. The longer they spend in the restaurant’s common areas, the more danger there is of spreading disease.

It’s a good idea to have your customers wait off-premises, maybe in their cars. You can use an app, or some other kind of alert, to let them know when their table is ready. And you can do the same thing to let customers know when their take-out order is ready, of course.

This will minimize the spread of disease, and it will also make your customers feel safe and happy! Instead of waiting in the restaurant’s common area, feeling anxious and impatient, they will be able to wait comfortably in their own car. You might even want to provide them with a small snack or beverage in a carry-out container, to make their wait more pleasant!

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Keep your customers informed!

It’s important to let your customers know what you’re doing to keep them safe. Make sure that you send them regular updates about all of the safety measures that you’re taking to protect them.

You can send them photos of the restaurant via social media, so that they can observe the changes with their own eyes. They should be able to see that your tables are all at least six feet apart, and that you’ve installed physical barriers throughout the restaurant, where appropriate.

Make sure that the public understands your masking policy. And make sure that they’re clear about the steps you’re taking to make social distancing easy. You can even send out photos of your disinfecting routine! Let your customers see that you are using professional cleaning products!

Encourage your customers to check in with you, too. You need to establish open lines of communication so that it’s very easy for customers to touch base with you. This is a great way to learn about your customers’ concerns. It’s also a great way to make sure that your customers feel heard.

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Final thoughts

COVID-19 has changed our world in countless ways. Even though our country is re-opening, it’s not exactly the same as it used to be. Restaurant owners know this, and so does the public.

Many people are feeling anxious these days. It’s a little bit hard for them to venture out of their homes and dine out in a restaurant. At the same time, they are longing to return to normal! Many people say that they really miss the fun, comfort, and warmth of restaurant dining.

As a restaurant owner, it’s your job to reassure your customers that they can visit your restaurant safely. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you have open lines of communication with your customers. It’s also important to establish clear rules about masking, social distancing, and hygiene.

Figuring out how to keep your customers safe and happy during COVID won’t be easy. But if you follow our tips and advice, you should be able to manage this tough transition!