Food and Beverage Franchises – Returning to the New Normal
As stricter social distancing measures for public venues and social activities are enforced by governments around the world to reduce the risk of local transmission of the coronavirus – restaurants, cafes and bars, have been required to reduce their in-dining areas, follow strict new regulations and pivot to home delivery and takeaway options.
With many businesses beginning to reopen and return to a new normal, now is the time to review all aspects of your business that may increase the risk of coronavirus transmission. Food and beverage business will need to adapt their business structure and policies to observe updated health and safety measures put in place by the government.
Assess your hygiene practices
All franchised food businesses will need to provide updated training for staff on new hygiene practices and any procedural changes that have been implemented to avoid the spread of the virus.
Food handlers and all other staff must maintain strict requirements around health and hygiene, including:
- Washing hands frequently when preparing foods, after going to the bathroom, and after handling money.
- Avoid touching the face, including hair.
- Avoid touching areas that have been in direct contact with a customer.
- Any worker with a suspected illness, such as coughing, sneezing or flu-like symptoms must be excluded from the workplace.
Physical distancing rules
Although regulations vary slightly between the different states and territories, some of the essential recommendations for venues to adopt in reopening should include:
- Have provisions in place to record patrons’ contact details on booking or entry, with name and a contact number.
- Undertake a deep clean of the premises
- Implement additional hygiene and cleaning measures and practices.
- Display signange at public entry ways that includes information on the maximum number of people that can be present in the venue.
- Display posters on proper hygiene and handwashing practices and establish hygiene stations, with hand sanitiser, at entrances and throughout the venue.
- Maximise ventilation where possible.
- Provide physical barriers or floor markings to ensure physical distancing is maintained at cashiers, or consider the installation of sneeze guards.
- Limit dine-in service to table service only.
- Arrange tables so that customers aren’t closer than 1.5 metres when seated.
- Arrange table seating so different groups of customers are not seated face-to-face
- Reduce touch points where possible, for instance, by using contactless payments. These laminated menus can be cleaned in between each use, minimising condiments on tables and removing communal and self-service equipment.
- Remove, or prevent access to, any self-service or buffet-style food service areas and communal condiment and drink stations. Drinking water should be supplied free via table service.
- Manage the entry and exit points of the business so that customers are not queuing at these points.
Cleaning and disinfecting
During the pandemic, extra cleaning needs to be carried out throughout your business. You must keep your place of business clean and sanitised by taking the following measures:
- Maintain thorough cleaning and sanitising of facilities, equipment and transport vehicles (including food contact surfaces and equipment).
- Clean shared surfaces more frequently. Including door handles, bathrooms, service counters, handrails and EFTPOS keypads.
- Increase cleaning regimes for all other areas within the food business.
- Wash and sanitise all food preparation containers, utensils and chopping boards.
Promoting cashless payments
Your business should promote cashless payments where possible, however, if cash is exchanged ensure that hands are washed with soap and water, or a hand sanitiser is used after handling money.
Mobile payment services and mobile wallets like Apple Pay are now widely available and provide secure, cash-free and effortless payments.
As a growing number of consumers turn towards digital and flexible methods of payment to purchase the goods they love, more businesses are getting on board with payment platforms. By partnering with payment platforms, businesses can offer their customers a new way to pay either instore or online without the need for cash or cards.
Food delivery options
During the lockdown, many food and beverage operators had to pivot their businesses to include takeaway and home delivery options for their customers.
If your food business is registered with Environmental Health, there are no further registration or administrative requirements if you want to provide food delivery out of your registered kitchen.
You will, however, need to ensure your food business complies with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including:
- Ensuring appropriate packaging is used for takeaway
- Exercising good hygiene practices when packaging food
- Using an appropriate food transport vehicle
- Maintaining temperature control of food during delivery.
Stay in touch
It’ a good idea to send an email or newsletter to your customers to assure them that you’re implementing new procedures to protect their health when they visit your business. Share any increased cleaning, disinfecting and hygiene protocols you’re implementing.
If you are updating your hours or closing your store for a deep-clean, you should let your customers know via your website and social channels.
Your customers are already on social media, but they are likely checking in much more frequently to get the latest updates on the virus. Whether you’re posting about the virus or letting your customers know what you’re up to, try posting more frequently to ensure you are showing up in their news feeds.
Like many Australian’s, the team at Business Franchise magazine are looking forward to getting out more and supporting our local food and beverage businesses – so keep in touch!