Ken Burgin

Restaurant Crisis Planning

No-Crisis Planning for Restaurants & Cafes

Crisis and drama seem to be part of daily life in hospitality – something most of us learn to put up with and live through. We often have it for breakfast! But, with a little thought and planning, you could thrive instead of just surviving. Your life would be less stressful, costs would be lower and your businesses more profitable!

Effective crisis planning and management is a must. That’s if you want to stay sane and keep your business on track. Some of us though prefer to turn a blind eye to warning signs, waiting instead until we have no option but to handle the fallout of a situation that could have been diffused, even avoided completely with a structured plan and pre-emptive responses.

Can we all be expert crisis managers or are some people better at it than others? The cooler heads are better at making the plans, and the pushy types are usually better at handling the emergency when it strikes.

At some time or another, every business has to face up to a crisis – even if it is simply the unexpected, happening at the most inconvenient time. Key staff resignations, equipment breakdowns, people issues, a kitchen fire or industry disputes – one way or another your turn will come. Put a plan in place, and you can minimise the damage.

Any time the number ONE is beside a system, you could have a problem. Now is the time for avoidance – before the pressure is on. Thinking ahead, backup, clear policies and documentation are the key to good management and efficient operations.

Make a note of the potential ONE factors you have in your business and identify a few you can rectify right now:

  • one person with password access to key websites
  • one person who knows how to use important software
  • one person who know how program the Point of Sale
  • one set of keys
  • one person who handles the ordering
  • one person who knows how to cook your most popular dish
  • one person with the patience to organise the rosters
  • one trained First Aid member of staff
  • one person who banks the cash
  • one exit door
  • one functions coordinator
  • one ageing deep fryer
  • one bar refrigerator
  • one shared staff locker
  • and a lot of ‘one person who knows how to…’ procedures!

People problems – a factor that can impact your business severely. Who hasn’t had to deal with unreliable staff, workplace accidents, sudden resignation, illness or drug addiction?

Equipment problems – maintenance, capacity problems, fire, refrigeration failure and computer crashes seem to be part of a day’s work.

Neighbourhood issues – road closure, blackouts, floods, earthquakes and weather are beyond our control but can impact our bottom line

If and when –it hits the fan, what is your communication plan? Communication to: Staff; Suppliers; Customers; Guest representatives eg concierges; Owners and directors; Banks and lenders; Media. Most of them will hear about it, and if you don’t give them an explanation, they will make up their own.

While there’s no point in fretting over all the ‘what ifs’, a simple plan will ease the stress in the worst possible scenario.

Quick fixes and planning that will make a difference…

  • Check the fire equipment and walk-through an evacuation with staff
  • Food-safety rules need to be documented and enforced
  • Responsible Service of Alcohol courses are compulsory for all front-of-house staff, but make sure it’s being the processes are being followed
  • First Aid training for at least two staff
  • Equipment checks before your busy season
  • Quality equipment that can handle a rush
  • Regular computer backups – onsite and offsite (cloud-based) systems that are happening every hour
  • Recipe records and cards – ‘if we cook it, it’s written down’
  • Keep an eye on the neighbourhood news
  • Staff rostering system that enables rapid contact with replacement staff
  • Staff planning in advance for busy periods
  • Become more rigorous with staff selection – if in doubt, don’t hire.
  • Implement staff safety projects …(let’s not call it training)
  • Emergency phone number lists
  • ‘Here are our policies, our logbooks, our posters’… have your policies and rules on display for any inspections that may happen by surprise.
  • Adequate Insurance coverage – does it cover current risks and equipment?
  • Practice emergency procedures as a quick training activity – people remember when they do it, much more than just reading or talking about it.

My guarantee – if you do even one of those things you’ll have more money in your pocket. Here’s to less stress!

🤚 Check the weekly discoveries on Hospo Reset – information & inspiration for restaurant, cafe & foodservice operators.

* thanks to Bill Marvin for this insight…

Restaurant First Aid

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