Operations

How consumers can dine out more safely

New challenges may require new materials to provide a cleaner, more contact-free dining experience.
Photograph: Shutterstock

As restaurant dining rooms begin to reopen across America, establishments from fast casual to fine dining must adjust to additional health and safety standards. Cleanliness is always essential and regulated, but the current climate requires further steps. Restaurants’ top priority, as they navigate reopening to partial or full capacity, will be to provide a safe environment for customers and employees—and to make sure diners feel at ease knowing that the proper precautions are in place.

With health and safety expectations at an all-time high, restaurateurs can make use of practical solutions to improve dining safety and help customers feel reassured and valued. The dining establishments pivoting to meet new standards are innovating and reinventing how the modern restaurant not only functions but also thrives. 

Addressing new challenges to drive growth

The food industry is reliant on loyal customers. That means, while the world waits for a vaccine, meeting customers’ expectations and making them feel comfortable coming back to dine are paramount to continued success.  

Restaurants are working to address challenges such as minimizing contact, decreasing the spread of germs, creating more distance and supporting customers and employees— and simply keeping the lights on. In many establishments, servers are wearing masks, tables are six feet apart and cleaning procedures are stringent and frequent.  

In addition to meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines before reopening, there are tangible ways restaurants can help their customers dine more safely. They start with a material that’s found in just about every restaurant: paper. 

The superior cleanable menu

Once customers are seated, the first thing they touch is usually a printed menu. Both regular and laminated paper menus can easily spread bacteria from one person to another. Laminated paper is preferable since it can be cleaned between uses, but it may tear or wear down over time, inviting possible contamination.

Water-resistant synthetic paper can help minimize that risk. It is less vulnerable to usual wear and tear and defends against liquid that may carry germs or viral particles. Its two-year lifespan means it’s durable enough to spray and wipe down frequently in order to keep it disinfected. Because the synthetic paper is made from plastic, it’s also grease-resistant and can be recycled as a plastic. 

This is an innovative way to reduce bacteria spread and give customers a safer and healthier dining experience.  

Contact-free ordering

In the spirit of minimizing contact, some restaurants may wish to do away with menus altogether—which poses the challenge of communicating customers’ options. 

In this age of smartphones and tablets, pairing paper with technology can result in a contact-free ordering experience that will keep customers safe without sacrificing service. Printed table tents or stickers placed directly on the table with QR codes linked to the restaurant’s menu can give customers safe ordering options and help them to feel protected as they navigate the new normal of the restaurant scene.

Effectively communicating change

Whatever new techniques and protocols you choose to introduce, communication is key. Restaurants can create a sense of ease by letting customers know what to expect from a brand and at an establishment.  

If a restaurant is reopening, they can advertise with bright, colorful window graphics that will catch customers’ eyes. They can also institute social distancing using floor spacers for ordering, pick-up or take-out lines or to signal seating restrictions. Restaurants should announce new policies on posters and share an on-brand version of a handwashing poster on restroom mirror clings. The clearer restaurants are about procedures and expectations, the less customers have to worry.

Where to turn for help

The restaurant industry is facing new challenges, and FedEx Office is here to help. FedEx Office provides materials such as water-resistant synthetic paper, printed table tents with QR codes and signage from surface graphics to banners that improve the safety of any dining experience—and can easily replace them as the need arises, allowing operators to focus on valued customers and forging the establishment’s new dining experience. 

For more information, visit FedEx.com/intheknow

This post is sponsored by FedEx Office

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