Serve a stellar summer buffet, but hold the bacteria
As the weather warms up, it’s time for picnics and barbecues. Just make sure you aren’t serving up foodborne bacteria on your buffet. Self-service areas in restaurants are easy to contaminate. Guests haven’t received the food safety training your team has and can easily spread germs inadvertently. If you can’t have your team serve food to guests, the National Restaurant Association recommends you take some steps to minimize your risk. Use dispensers that release items one at a time, whether napkins, cups or flatware, and clean the dispensers regularly. Consider wrapping flatware or storing it with the handles up. Have your staff monitor guests to ensure they’re not reusing plates or utensils in service areas and post signs to help reinforce the message. Clean and sanitize surfaces frequently and with sanitizing wipes or separate cloths approved for use in this way. Mount touchless hand sanitizer dispensers in convenient locations near your self-service stations as a precaution. Choose your foods wisely and avoid serving options (like seafood, for example) that carry a greater safety risk. Finally, swap out the tongs and serving spoons regularly – the regulation is every four hours but consider increasing the frequency. Mashed says there are no regulations when it comes to food serving utensils being sanitized after they fall into a dish – and with only 5 percent of people washing their hands in the manner recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, the utensils people handle are a big risk for cross-contamination.
Put more “social” into your social media marketing
Is your social media marketing building your business – or keeping it in the same place it was a year ago? If you’re using social media to sell your brand, menu or specials, you need to adjust. Standing out in a sea of competition requires you to use social media to engage with your audience and thank them for their business. It’s less important to have a high number of followers than it is to have a strong rapport with the followers you have. To build a more lasting connection, Digitalist magazine suggests you respond quickly to posts, which can help you build trust and quickly defuse any difficult situations that arise. Creating eye-catching graphics (paired with brief, compelling captions) can help you stand out in your guests’ crowded newsfeeds too. Before you post, ask yourself how you can add value – does your chef have tips on how to work a variety of greens into a dish? Share a recipe or suggest local suppliers of quality ingredients. This can also be an opportunity to work video into your strategy too. Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are making it easy for operators to use video to show the personalities of their kitchen team, talk about a new service or provide a behind-the-scenes look at running a restaurant. Finally, Digitalist suggests you ask for your followers’ input. Give guests a choice between two potential new appetizers or specials, for instance. Who doesn’t like being asked for their opinion?
For Domino’s, tech is on the menu too
Just when you thought Domino’s had reached the pinnacle of technology innovation, the chain has taken things a step further: It just announced a new partnership with IFTTT (If This, Then That) to further boost consumer engagement. Skift reports that as a result, the restaurant’s Pizza Tracker functionality will allow customers who have ordered a Domino’s pizza to trigger various digital actions automatically. For example, when a customer’s pizza is out for delivery, he can program his porch lights or television to turn on, or send an automatic text to friends sharing the meal. Domino’s offers some pre-set choices but customers can create their own assortment of prompts too.
Yelp makes its data more accessible to foodservice operators
Online reviews have an outsized amount of power these days, and Yelp has become the review site of choice for consumers (restaurant leaders at the recent Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit agreed that Yelp was the site to beat). Now, thanks to a new partnership with Splunk Enterprise, the company is making the data it collects from its 65 million mobile users more accessible to foodservice operators and more useful in uncovering new revenue opportunities, Fast Casual reports. Yelp uses Splunk to help support customer-facing parts of Yelp’s Eat24 food delivery service business – like, for example, monitoring its order pipeline and providing operational teams with customized dashboards and real-time alerts to track food deliveries. If your restaurant offers delivery and is among the tens of thousands Yelp reviews, take a look at its new technology – Yelp says it will help operators better analyze customer trends and pinpoint underperforming services.
Make personal stories part of your food safety training
You use stories to connect guests to your brand. They can also help you connect with your team, particularly when it comes to promoting food safety. If you need to drive home the importance of food safety practices and the impact they can have on people’s lives, consider having someone who has experienced a food-related health crisis speak to your team. A Food Safety Tech report shares the story of Rylee Gustafson, who recently spoke at the Partnership for Food Safety Education about how she became ill from E. coli in spinach in 2006 and has suffered longterm health problems since, including diabetes, a damaged pancreas, voice and vision problems and high blood pressure. The first-person account helped the audience appreciate the importance of their roles in keeping people safe. You can read additional stories and find contacts at stopfoodborneillness.org.
When EMV doesn’t prevent a data breach
EMV has long offered assurances about protecting merchants’ point-of-sale systems from fraud. So when Arby’s experienced a data breach recently, many wondered why EMV didn’t prevent it. A report in The Payments Review said since chip cards were first issued, merchants that have upgraded to chip-enabled terminals have seen a 43-54 percent decrease in fraud – that would likely be even greater if not for the continued use of magnetic-stripe cards. EMV can prevent card data from being transferred onto a magnetic stripe card and used at a chip-enabled point-of-sale system. Still, EMV isn’t bulletproof: It can’t prevent a hacker from downloading malware to a point-of-sale system, stealing payment information and using it at an ecommerce site that doesn’t validate a card’s security code. It’s important to understand how EMV can protect you if you’re vulnerable to fraud – according to Upserve, just 37 percent of merchants have completed EMV implementation – then take steps to fill in any gaps.
Promote proper handwashing
Handwashing…there’s more to it than most people think, and it’s a critical part of limiting the spread of bacteria in your business. The Washington State Department of Health shared these tips: Soap and water is the go-to combination for clean hands. Make sure you wet your hands so the soap will work. After applying the soap, scrub under fingernails, between fingers and up to the lower arm. The scrubbing process should take 10 to 15 seconds, a longer time than most people spend on it. Try singing a song to yourself to reach the required time threshold – the “Happy Birthday” song will get you there. Rinse your hands and dry them with a paper towel or other single-use method. (Paper towels remove more germs.) Note that hand sanitizers are a helpful precaution but don’t take the place of washing hands. These sanitizers work best on clean hands – use them after washing but not instead of it.
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