My name’s Adrian and I’m a sous chef on the Shopify culinary team based in Ottawa. Before joining Shopify I was in the restaurant industry for the past 10 years. I’ve worked as a cook, as a chef and as a restaurant owner. Now that I’m at Shopify I work with a team of 30 to cook and serve up to 1,200 people twice a day.
The health and safety of my fellow employees and of my team is my number one priority at all times. Food safety not a new concept. We work in an industry that’s defined by regulations, protocols, and inspections. Cleaning and sanitizing our spaces is an everyday part of the gig.
So what’s different and what’s changed? Well, now more than ever, people are relying on pickup and delivery for their favorite restaurant meals. And that means it’s more important than ever that we’re able to clearly communicate the extra precautions that we’re taking right now. That goes for your customers as well as your staff.
We’re all going to need to pivot our businesses and adapt to meet new health and safety protocols that accommodate personal safety and physical distance. The great news is we’re already great at pivots. The restaurant industry is built on adaptability and being flexible. How often do we have to 86 something or we come up with a menu special?
We change our menu for the seasons or for that dietary restriction that you did not see coming. So we’re already starting out on the right foot and with the right mindset. Your staff need to feel safe and in control of their circumstances right now. Getting them on board with your new health and safety protocols is paramount.
It’s a great opportunity to revisit all of those health and safety protocols that we know from our food and safety training. All the basics; washing our hands, tying back our hair, cleaning and sanitizing our workspaces to prevent cross contamination, and putting away external deliveries from our suppliers in a safe and cleanly manner.
Those are all of our minimums. If you can empower your staff to feel safe in their workplaces they’ll be able to focus on doing their best work for you and for your business. But it’s a great time to also consider the extra safety precautions that you need right now. Checking in with your government regulatory body for food and safety is a great start.
They’re likely to have a lot of recommendations and maybe even requirements that you need to follow right now, depending on your region. Things like masks and gloves for your employees’ physical distancing or adjustments to your sick policy. For example, in Canada there’s new science that shows that chlorine or hydrogen peroxide in specific concentrations is really effective at killing the virus on surfaces.
So checking in with your suppliers to see what they can offer you right now, as well as maintaining your equipment, recalibrating your sanitizer dispensers and your dishwashers to make sure things are coming up at temp, and being mixed properly with detergent and chemicals. All of these extra measures will go a long way in reassuring your staff that their health is your top priority, and that will filter down to your customers as well.
Depending on the size of your business, you may also have a lot of staffing considerations. Physical distancing will be in place a lot longer than we may have originally anticipated. This may mean physical distancing in your back of house and front of house spaces. And you may need to think outside the box to take some more creative approaches.
Some places are having success with a split team approach where smaller numbers of staff work the same shift every day regularly. So that if one of those team members falls ill, their points of contact and risk of exposure to the rest of your staff remain quite minimal. And certainly redesigning your front of house spaces will need to be a top priority. Spacing your tables to accommodate physical distancing or redesigning your space to optimize traffic flow.
These are all things that it’s great to start thinking about now as our communities begin to open up again. Having your staff on board with you, feeling confident and safe in the workplace will allow you to do what you do best. Running your business and focusing on what’s next. So now that your staff is on board and you have a plan, what is next?
Tell people. Tell your customers as often as you can of all the health and safety measures that you are taking right now to keep their health and well-being your top priority. Adding a cleanliness policy to your online store or your website is such a great idea.
You can clearly list all of the protocols that you and your staff are taking right now to keep your guests safe. Consider adding pictures, maybe a glimpse into your food production area, or steps that your front of house are taking in preparing for contactless pickup and cashless payments.
Adding something personal with a little human touch will go a long way in rebuilding trust with your customers. If you use a third party delivery app or delivery company, it’s also a great idea to link to their health and safety policy. So that from ordering to delivery, your guests know that they’re safe in your hands.
And of course, using your social media platforms are a great place to spread the word about your contactless pickup options, as well as your health and safety policies. Livia Sweets in Vancouver, B.C. is doing a great job with this. They did two Instagram stories of their contactless pickup, with tons of pictures as well as some pictures with text about their cleanliness policies inside their spaces.
They’ve saved those to their profile page so that people can go to them anytime to really get a glimpse into what they’re doing. Something I’ve loved here in Ottawa is my favorite small restaurant has recently started doing delivery. On each bag, they’ve clicked a little note to not only thank me for my business, but to also let me know that my health and well-being are their top priority right now.
Even with working in this industry and knowing our food safety procedures, that went a long way in making me feel reassured that their priorities were my health. Our culinary team at Shopify is wrestling with a lot of the same questions that you are. What will our industry look like moving forward?
How long will these health and safety measures be in place? Or is this the new normal? How can I reassure my guests that they can trust me with their health and safety, and how can I pass that message along to my staff? Well, we don’t really have a lot of answers. And there won’t necessarily be one approach.
It will continue to evolve change and adapt over time. But that’s how our industry is built and that’s what you do with your business. Make sure to check out some other videos on Compass so that you can really launch your business online with confidence. I wish you the very best of luck, and I’ll see you next time.