Restaurant crisis management is a critical strategy to have in place in the event that a crisis threatens your restaurant, staff and customers. Many restaurant owners and managers have a lot of questions around how to handle a crisis. For example, what if your restaurant is closed by the local health department? This certainly qualifies as a crisis.
It’s important to understand that health departments have an obligation to protect public health, and there are very specific reasons for why they would decide to close a restaurant. For the sake of this discussion, let’s focus on the term “imminent health hazard.” An imminent health hazard is when the condition of the restaurant has created a hazard that makes eating the food unsafe. In other words, if the restaurant keeps serving food in an unsafe condition, it could make people sick. Below are the most common conditions that could lead to a closure and a restaurant crisis.
Having proper food safety policies and procedures in place is the easiest, most important way a restaurant can avoid a closure. Having trained staff, engaged management and an effective food safety culture will go a long way for a restaurant to protect its brand and customers. The next step is to develop a restaurant crisis management plan.
When there’s a crisis such as a loss in service, such as for utilities, it’s important to correct it immediately and as quickly as possible so there’s no interruption in daily operation and, more importantly, creating an environment that can lead to foodborne illness. The best way to make sure services are restored as quickly as possible is to have a list of approved repair companies or vendors that have quick response times, a high quality of work and a clear understanding of a restaurant’s needs. It’s key to have this list of who to call before something breaks. Using vendors that have guaranteed response times is critical.
Every restaurant will encounter these problems at some point during operation, so it’s very important that there’s a crisis management plan to help avoid any situation that could create an imminent health hazard until the repairs can be made. All staff members should regularly receive training on this plan. Management should conduct crisis management drills and the staff should practice the correct procedures. The first point in each plan should be making the appropriate calls to repair personnel as soon as possible. In the meantime, plans for loss of power, loss of hot- or cold-water service, sewer backup and large-scale emergencies can be put into place until service is restored.
It’s necessary for a restaurant to close during any of the following conditions until the problem has been corrected. Any of these could lead to unsafe conditions for food, which could cause your customers to become sick.
Is your restaurant prepared for a crisis? Knowing the situations that can lead to an emergency and having a restaurant crisis management plan in place is extremely critical to your restaurant’s success.
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