Tag : COVID-19

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Employee & Customer Temperature Checks will Make Restaurants Safer but could also increase Discrimination Claim Risk

The FDA has stated that it would like restaurants to Pre-Screen Employees by taking their temperatures and asking them questions about their potential exposure to COVID-19. For more info check out our blog: The FDA Has Stated that you Should Take Employee Temperatures Before Their Shift

California has starting releasing guidance on new required procedures for restaurants when they re-open. Check out this LA Times Article.

In the article they call out 3 main things:

  • Taking customers temperatures
  • Waiters wearing gloves and masks
  • Disposable menus

Restaurants are going to have to be very careful on how they execute these temperature checks, both for employees and customers.

These restaurants are potentially going to be denying people what they want: a dining experience in the restaurant or a shift to make money based on a temperature reading and the persons answers to a couple of questions.

If the restaurants:

  • Do A poor job of communicating their process to their teams and their customers
  • Apply their process differently to different people
  • Decisions are different for different people when the data is the same

This could open them up to claims of discriminatory practices. You want and need to avoid even the appearance of unfairness at all costs because it could destroy your business.

Restaurants need to have a Employee & Customer Temperature Pre-Screen process that meets these standards:

  1. Fully Documented
  2. Impartial
  3. Applied Evenly
  4. Takes the responsibility of making the decision off of the manager/employee and puts it on a formula or the process.

OpsAnalitica has developed Pre-Screen Processes, one for Customers and the other for Employees, that guide your manager through the COVID-19 Temperature Pre-Screen. Our processes exceed the 4 standards above.

Watch a quick video to see them in action:

https://youtu.be/2v4skdwq1fo

I think it is unavoidable and incredibly unfortunate that some restaurant managers will use these processes to discriminate against employees and customers. Just as I think some customers and employees will claim discrimination when there was none. That is just the world we live in.

The one thing that I do know, is that a well-documented process that is executed fairly will provide the best protection for employees, customers, and restaurant operators.

If you would like to learn more about our COVID-19 processes, please imitate a chat in the bottom right hand corner of this screen.

Take-Out/Drive-Thru ScoreCard

I was speaking with a buddy of mine yesterday, he is a Franchise Business Consultant for a national burger chain. He mentioned to me that some of his franchisee’s don’t want him in the restaurants right now.

The franchisees don’t want their above store leaders in their restaurants because they don’t want to risk exposing their employees or restaurant to someone that is outside the team and whom could be sick.

I think this is absolutely the correct thing to do. An FBC or Area Manager that is visiting restaurants in their patch, at this time, is more of a liability than a resource. If the FBC/Area Manager is an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19, and they spread the virus to their restaurants through regular site visits, they could very publicly shut down their entire patch.

Click here to read my blog on the subject: Area Managers Should Stop Visiting Their Restaurants During the COVID-19 Crisis

Scorecard

In response to this dilemma that many FBC’s and Area Manager’s are facing right now, OpsAnalitica has developed our Take-Out/Drive-Thru Scorecard. This scorecard is a scored comprehensive review of the entire take-out/drive-thru experience:

  • Starts with how you ordered your food
  • Takes your thought the pick-up process
  • Paying for the meal
  • Looks at Sanitation standards and contactless interactions at the restaurant
  • Has you evaluate and rate the food

This scorecard can be used to identify issues in your take-out/drive-thru offering. Because it is scored it can be used to track progress over a period of time. Since take-out and drive-thru are our most important sales channels at this time, it is imperative that we are executing at a high level.

This scorecard is being added to our free COVID-19 resources, which you and your teams can use for Free through May, no strings attached. If you want to take advantage of these resources, just initiate a chat in the bottom right hand corner of this blog, and click on sales.

Document, Document, Document, everything you do around COVID-19

If you don’t document it, it didn’t happen.

The FDA has recently stated that restaurants should start Pre-Screening their employees and taking their temperatures to determine if the employee is safe to work that shift.

This is an update to current ADA procedures Section 501. This guidance was updated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I fully expect that this will change when we come out of this pandemic as it did after the SARS pandemic in 2009.

The immediate question is how should you undertake the pre-screening of employees? The larger question is what else should I be documenting around my COVID-19 response.

I’m going to argue that you document all of it.

A lot of you are sighing out loud right now because documentation is boring and a pain in the butt.

Documentation, especially when using a checklist, or checklist program, is very easy to do, because completing a checklist is self-documenting.

I’m growing increasingly concerned that COVID-19 is going to spur a lot of legal actions in the near future. I believe we are not seeing these legal actions today because of the following reasons:

  • We are all being asked to stay home and self-isolate.
  • We are in the middle of the outbreak and there is no way to figure out where or whom you got COVID-19 from.
  • These new guidances, pre-screening of employees, is brand new.
  • We haven’t had a chance to see how the negative pre-screen of an employee that is sent home for being ill conflicts with some of the more restrictive labor laws that you see in places like Seattle and California.
    • Those will probably be decided in the courts in the next couple of months.

Soon, in the next couple of weeks/months, as we are released from this mandatory self-isolation. We are going to be out and about again and the COVID-19 virus is still going to be very active.

Part of the strategy moving forward to deal with people infected with COVID-19 is going to be the practice of testing, self-isolation, and contact tracing.

I literally heard Dr. Fauci on the daily White House press conference yesterday talking about contact tracing. He was stating that the government will release the stay at home orders when:

  • When the virus is not as active in an area
  • When they have the medical supplies and hospital bandwidth to handle an outbreak.
  • When they have the contact tracing system in place.

Here is a description of Contact Tracing from the World Health Organization. A quick summary of it, is that when you get tested positive for COVID-19:

  1. Contact Identification: the government asks you to identify all the people you have been in contact with and places you have gone.
  2. Contact Listing: Identified contacts are added a list and contacted about their exposure to you. They are asked to take the appropriate medical steps.
  3. Contact Follow-up: people are tracked for symptoms etc..

Once we enter this phase of our COVID-19 response and absent any new laws that state you can’t sue a person for spreading COVID-19, which I don’t know if we’ll see, people are going to be able to trace back where they got COVID-19 from. There will be epicenters at places/events or it will be traced to people who infected a lot of other people.

If you want to see something chilling check out this Reuter’s article about patient 31 in South Korea.

I think once people can assign blame for getting COVID-19 and quantify their financial losses from being isolated or medical bills. I believe we’ll start to see a lot more law suits around this stuff.

So that is why I’m very much in support of self-documenting your COVID-19 procedures to help protect your business from potential litigation. This can be accomplished by creating checklists and forms to use in your business highlighting your procedures.

Also, remember that with any new process or documentation strategy, consistent execution will always show your commitment and due diligence. It is better to do something less times a day but to do it consistently than to require it be doe more times a day and not have 100% compliance.

Now let’s be clear, my assumption in all of this, is that you are doing the right things to protect your customers, employees, and your brand. If you are and you are documenting those steps as well, it could potentially help you in any kind of government review or legal action.

I’m not a lawyer, if you are concerned you should contact yours, but this just seems logical to me.

How can OpsAnalitica help you with this documentation?

The OpsAnalitica Platform is the ultimate Restaurant Operations and documentation platform. Our goal is always to do the following:

  1. Take the guesswork out of any process.
  2. Guide the employee through the process and identify in real-time any remediation actions.
  3. Act as a self documentation platform, storing all completed checklists digitally for review.
  4. Notifying management when a process has not been completed or critical violations were detected.

We have created an Employee Health Verification Process that you can use to document your employee COVID-19 Pre Screen questionnaire including the taking of temperatures. Also, we have a Sick Employee and Customer incident forms that you can use to record the actions your took when you identified either a sick employee or customer.

All of these forms are fully customizable and available for free through May of 2020, no strings attached. In addition, we will set your organization up for free so you can take advantage of this system immediately.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the OpsAnalitica Platform, please initiate a chat in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

Reduce Ops Expenses without Sacrificing Customer Satisfaction

Cutting Costs and Optimizing Field Teams

The only way we are going to make it through this COVID-19 crisis is to simultaneously cut costs while pivoting a large portion of our resources to maximize our take-out, drive-thru and delivery sales channels.

If we can do this quickly, we can adapt to the lower sales during this enforced social distancing period and conserve cash. In times like this, cash flow is king.

Also, we need to be realistic about how much of our sales are going to return when we can open our dining rooms again. The word we’re hearing from China is that people are out and about but they aren’t rushing to dine in again. Those traditional dine in sales are trickling in slowly.

One way to immediately cut costs is to optimize your Field Teams by providing them with better technology that allows them to work remotely. This will allow you to simultaneously:

  • Increase Area/District Manager patch size by 25 to 100%
  • You will get more consistent and frequent interactions with the use of technology
  • Reduce head count or shift field team members to new roles

Here is how it could work:

  1. Repurpose your current field team site visit into a self inspection that can be completed by the In-Store team using the OpsAnalitica Platform.
    1. This will be scheduled on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis depending on Area/District Manager patch size.
  2. This in-store self Inspection will be conducted by the restaurant General Manager and cover the normal touch points that an Area/District Manager would inspect in person.
    1. This Self Inspection will require a lot of mandatory photos that will be taken all around the restaurant.
  3. The Area/District Manager and the Store Manager will review this inspection together via zoom or video conference meeting.
  4. Area/District managers can coach on standards and create action plan tasks for the restaurant manager to complete.

The immediate benefits of this approach

  • The ability to reduce head count and increase patch size of remaining above store managers will cut costs.
  • An Area/District Manager could easily conduct six 1-hour Self Inspection Reviews a day.
    • At 6 reviews a day, one Area/District Manager could conduct 30 reviews a week and 120 a month.
  • Reduction in wasted travel time:
    • Cut wind shield time driving to restaurants – We’ve heard of Area/District Managers spending 25% or more of their time in a week driving to restaurants.
    • Cut travel expenses for above store leaders who have patches that require overnight/airline travel.
  • More visits: for some large franchise concepts, above store leaders only visit restaurants one time a month to one time a quarter.
  • Protect employees health and your brand.
    • We are supposed to be socially distancing, requiring an Area/District Manager to be visiting restaurants puts that person in contact with more people than they should be right now.
    • The nightmare scenario is an asymptomatic Area/District Manager visiting multiple restaurants and spreading COVID-19 requiring a very public shutdown of those locations.
  • Because these reviews are centrally managed you can easily update them and change them to match your current priorities.
    • In this rapidly changing times, I would suggest that 80% of the visit be the core inspection, and 20% might change week-to-week based on new priorities.
    • Having OpsAnalitica in the restaurants provides you with the ability to collect other data from the restaurant level.
    • Our Employee Health Verification and Temperature Form would be the next most important example.
  • An ancillary benefit will be that store managers will probably fix issues before they take the photos during their Self Inspections so they will be addressing issues proactively.
    • If an issue shows up in a picture that is an immediate coaching moment.

This is scalable above store management. It will allow companies to maintain a corporate presence at the location level, ensuring that corporate standards are being maintained while cutting costs, protecting employee health, and safe guarding the brand.

I also want to make it clear that we believe that Area/District Managers play a vital role in any restaurant company. When it is safe and appropriate to visit restaurants again they will absolutely be going back out.

This type of remote management along with less frequent site visits will allow your future field team to really focus their on-site visits on the restaurants that really need their attention, allowing your Area/District Managers to make a real impact on performance without neglecting their other stores.

Here is a quick webinar describing how this plan could work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_u015UosrQ&t=13s

During this crisis we are offering free use and set-up of the OpsAnalitica Platform. We can get you set-up for a test in a matter of 24 to 48 hours. We will also include our COVID-19 Employee Health Verification and Risk Assessment. If you would like to learn more, initiate a chat in the bottom right hand corner of this blog and select sales.

Should I Start Taking My Employees Temperatures?

Since the WHO and CDC have declared that we are in the midst of a COVID-19 Pandemic, the EEOC has allowed the taking of employee temperatures.

I recently was a panelist on a webinar hosted by the World Health Congress & The Validation Institute and I was able to discuss the taking of employee temperatures with Dr. Ian Lipkin, head of Epidemiology at Columbia University.

Dr. Lipkin stated that a person with COVID-19 might be asymptomatic so the taking of employee temps shouldn’t be the only thing you do or rely on. On the other hand, you may identify a person who has a fever who might not be aware of it. Overall, it is a worthwhile exercise.

It is so worthwhile that Burger King, McDonalds, and many other fast food restaurants are rapidly procuring thermometers to start this process.

A couple of things to consider:

  1. You should know why are you doing this?
    1. Is this to protect you from a potential future liability?
    2. Is this to stop a potentially sick employee from working today?
    3. Or Both?
  2. Where are you storing this data?
    1. Not planning on recording the temp, just checking as the employee enters the restaurant.
    2. In a Platform like OpsAnalitica.
    3. Keeping this written down on paper.
    4. How long are you planning on storing the data?
    5. This data must be kept confidential.
  3. You are allowed to ask questions about COVID-19 only, and I suggest that you do.
    1. You should definitely ask if the person has taken fever reducers in the last 24 hours.
    2. You should also ask specifically if an employee has been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    3. You should ask the employee if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  4. Do you have a plan for what you are going to do if you identify a sick employee?
    1. You should document that you sent the employee home and what symptoms they were exhibiting.
    2. If a person is exhibiting symptoms today, they could have been contagious for up to a week. You should pull schedules for the last week.
    3. I would suggest that the person get a COVID-19 test and offer to pay for it if necessary.
  5. Where in your restaurant are you going to fill out this questionnaire and take their temperature?
    1. If the person has COVID-19 and they are on the line, what are the consequences of them being close to food?
    2. Doing this by the entrance door makes a lot of sense, it would be the easiest area to clean and sanitize?
  6. What kind of thermometer are you going to use?
    1. Make sure to disinfect it in between uses.
    2. Definitely use a forehead thermometer or ear. You don’t want to use an oral thermometer.
  7. Is the manager going to take the temperature or is the employee.
    1. Some thermometers are hard to take your own temperature.
    2. If a manager is going to be getting very close to an employee, they should wear a mask.
    3. Managers and employees should do their best to maintain social distancing protocols.
  8. What if an employee is coughing but doesn’t have a fever?
    1. Coughing and fever are the two main symptoms of COVID-19. I would recommend sending the employee home until their coughing stops.
  9. Do you have health insurance and Sick Leave?
    1. I believe you have to cover 14 days of sick pay for people who are diagnosed with COVID-19. You should confirm this in your state.
    2. Does your current sick leave policy create an incentive for employees to lie to you? If yes, you should correct that immediately.

We have created a health verification form to use for employees. It guides the manager through asking questions and taking temperatures. It is a part of our free COVID-19 resources.

If you are interested in learning more or taking advantage of these resources, please open a chat in the bottom right hand corner of the page.

To get some more information on the legal aspects of taking temperatures of employees you can check out these resources:

Free COVID-19 Tools From OpsAnalitica

Updated with new tools on 4/16/20

We have created Free Tools for restaurant operators to help them manage their restaurants and decrease risk during the COVID-19 crisis. As with all OpsAnalitica Processes, these are 100% customizable for your business.

To get these free tools, click on the chat bot in the bottom right hand corner of this page.

Quick Synopsis of all of the Tools:

  • COVID-19 Customer Temperature Screening: The State of California just released guidance on screening customers temperatures before allowing them to enter your restaurant. We have modified our Employee Temperature Pre-Screen process to address this new use case.
  • COVID-19 Employee Temperature Pre-Screen: The FDA Stated that they want restaurants to Pre-Screen employees for COVID-19 by taking temperatures and assessing the employees health before their shift. This process does both. Check out this Resource to learn more
  • Hourly Disinfectant Schedule: This checklist is meant to be customized to your locations and provides a great starting point for creating a routine restaurant disinfecting process. Focusing on Human Touch Points.
  • Risk Evaluations (Full Service & QSR): These risk assessments guide you through the different potential virus transmission risk points in your operations and provides you with a clear understanding of how to mitigate those risks. See the video below.
  • Sick Employee & Customer Incident Logs: These logs will allow you to document any sick customer or employee incidents in your locations. Documenting your COVID-19 procedures will protect your location and your brand, to learn more check out this blog: Document, Document, Document, everything you do around COVID-19
  • Take-out/Drive-Thru Scorecard: A lot of Field Team Managers are unable to visit their restaurants today because of COVID-19. This Scorecard will allow those team members to grade the restaurants on how they are doing from a take-out/drive-thru perspective without having to enter the restaurant.

We have created additional tools for restaurant companies that will allow them to effectively scale their above store leader’s patch sizes and have effective interactions with their restaurant remotely, to learn more check out this blog: Reduce Ops Expenses without Sacrificing Customer Satisfaction

One of the most important tools on this list is the Employee Health Verification Process. This process is bullet proof and it guides your manager through the taking of the temperature and the asking of a few key questions about the employees potential exposure to COVID-19.

Here is a quick video that shows the process in action:

https://youtu.be/0iuAyTN5wU8

If you have any questions about this content or if you would like to get access to our free COVID-19 tools. Please access the chat bot in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Check out our blog on New Front Of The House Sanitation Standards In A Social Distancing World

New Front Of The House Sanitation Standards In A Social Distancing World

On April 1, 2020, we hosted a webinar about the New FOH changes that are going to be required for restaurants in a COVID-19 world.

Below is the full presentation about the changes that are coming for restaurants. This presentation takes you through 3 main steps in mitigating risk and increasing consumer confidence.

  1. Conducting a Risk Assessment
  2. New FOH Sanitation Standards
  3. Sanitation Theater

https://youtu.be/aDLI5bGOeKs

If you have any questions about this content or if you would like to get access to our free COVID-19 tools. Please access the chat bot in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Check out our blog on Free COVID-19 Tools from OpsAnalitica

New FDA Guidance on Face Masks for Restaurant Employees

The FDA has updated their guidance on restaurant employees wearing face masks while working. I’m going to post the link and the direct text from the FDA’s site below to save you some time.

If you want to learn more about how to wear the masks and keep them clean, the 3rd bullet point below will take you to the CDC’s site that has more info.

This is the link to the FDA’s site, Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

In the first response under the Questions and Answers for Industry Section – Social Distancing, Disinfecting & Other Precautions

Should Employers in retail food and food production settings wear face coverings to prevent exposure to COVID-19 Posted 4/42020

On April 3, the CDC released an updated recommendation regarding the use of cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.  CDC recommends the use of simple cloth face coverings as a voluntary public health measure in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). 

For workers on farms, and in food production, processing, and retail settings who do not typically wear masks as part of their jobs, consider the following if you choose to use a cloth face covering to slow the spread of COVID-19:

NOTE:  The cloth face coverings recommended by CDC are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

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Area/District Managers Should Stop Visiting Restaurants During the COVID-19 Crisis

I’m writing this in early April of 2020 and I’m setting the stage of the current environment so readers of this blog in the future will understand the situation here in the US at this time. 2/3 + of the US is on mandatory social distancing, stay at home isolation through 4/30/20, restaurants are only allowed to sell take-out and delivery, and we are two to four weeks away from the dreaded peak of cases.

If you are a restaurant without a delivery or takeout business channel you are probably closed and you are worried about ever being able to re-open. The National Restaurant Association is predicting that 30,000 units have already closed permanently. This is the new reality and this isolation only went into effect 2 1/2 weeks ago.

Currently, I have clients that are still open and operating because of their robust delivery and take out models and their Area Managers are still visiting their restaurants in their local patches.

AREA/DISTRICT MANAGERS NEED TO STOP VISITING THEIR RESTAURANTS IMMEDIATELY!

An area manager that is infected with COVID-19 and who didn’t show symptoms for the average time period of 7 to 10 days could visit 5 to 10 restaurants, or more. Exposing those employees to the COVID-19 germs.

The following guidelines come directly from the state of Washington’s Dept of Health, most states are following similar guidelines here, I chose this one because it was very easy to understand:

Look at the 3rd bullet point: being within 6 feet of an infected person for about 10 minutes. That is all that it takes. The bottom paragraph states what you are supposed to do.

“You should monitor your health for fever, cough, and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. YOU SHOULD NOT GO TO WORK OR SCHOOL AND SHOULD AVOID PUBLIC PLACES FOR 14-DAYS.

The reason for this isolation is that you can be sick and contagious with COVID-19 for 7 to 10 days without having any symptoms. You could be infecting people for a week before you get your first fever or sniffle.

Because Area Managers are visiting restaurants, any customers that come into contact with employees who get sick have to do the same.

I’m not trying to be overly dramatic but having your Area Managers visiting their restaurants is exposing your brand, your employees, and your customers to an incredible risk.

The whole point of this blog is to avoid this:

A worse case scenario is that an Area Manager spreads the COVID-19 virus to multiple restaurants, resulting in their shutdown for a period of 14 days and the requirement of a major deep cleaning.

The part that is going to damage the brand immensely is going to be the public acknowledgement that customers who visited those restaurants are going to need to isolate, get tested, etc..

This could ruin confidence in your brand and will hurt the restaurant industry as whole as people will rethink eating from any restaurants during this time.

Some unlucky chain or restaurant is going to be the first. It is inevitable, and it is going to happen in the next couple of weeks or month. There are simply too many people that are infected right now that don’t have a clue that they are sick.

Do everything you can to not let it be you, I fear that very few brands could come back from that.

We recognize the need for Area Managers, they are a very important part of the multi-unit management infrastructure of our restaurants. We need to get them the tools they need so they can be affective from managing from home. We cannot risk them getting sick or exposing the units to unnecessary risk during this period.

We are hosting a webinar on how to make area managers more effective from home. You can click this link to sign-up: https://calendly.com/oa-sales/webinar-enabling-field-team-wfh

FYI: after the webinar is over, we’ll post a video in the blog of the webinar content.