What Service Companies Are Doing in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The foodservice industry, including service companies, is experiencing unprecedented challenges right now. Despite the uncertainties, there are steps service companies are taking — both as businesses and on individual job sites — to limit their risk and prepare for the future best they can. Foodservice is an essential service, and service companies help keep these operations up and running, even if it looks different than normal.
Here are some of these practices being implemented by other service companies to help you assess your actions.
Cleaning and Sanitation
Cleanliness is critical for every kitchen, but especially now in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. In addition to the ideas below, this blog post and checklist provide refreshers on standard kitchen cleaning practices.
- Don’t touch your face and always keep your hands away from your mouth
- Wear rubber or vinyl gloves under your usual work gloves, since most work gloves are porous
- As soon as you are done working on a piece of equipment, wash your hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds
- After use, tools should be cleaned with soap and water (for those that can handle water) or wiped down with (60-90%) isopropyl alcohol spray and/or wipes
- Clean your tools and carriers outside the restaurant, but before putting them back in your vehicle. Anything from inside the facility (broken or spare parts) should be kept separate
From schedules and availability to communication and marketing, service company operations need to continue, but the approach to these tasks may need to shift. There are also opportunities to show value to customers and support them through this challenging time. Here are some of the ways service companies have shifted their operations in order to adhere with health guidelines, navigate new situations and build lasting connections.
- Enable as many employees as possible to work from home
- Suspend 24-hour service and eliminate overtime or extended hours
- Limit visitors to your facility and do not allow walk-in visitors
- Offer no touch, curbside pickup for parts
- If available, let customers know that they can buy cleaning supplies through your company
- Review contracts and agreements for opportunities to delay payments or extend timelines
- Use reliable resources for information on COVID-19 , such as the National Restaurant Association’s National Restaurant Association, OSHA and the CDC
- Amp up communication talking to employees daily throughout channels ― making sure everyone’s keeping up with what’s going on in the world and know how to respond to customer questions
- Consider offering discounts or other incentives to encourage customers to act
What does it look like for a service company putting this into practice? Jim Eason, Director, Business Development/Vice President at SAM Service, Inc. shared how their company is adapting to the current landscape.
Like most service companies, SAM Service has seen a reduction in revenue due to their biggest customers ― restaurant chains and school systems ― decreasing their operations. SAM Service has made adjustments, such as fewer people taking on more roles and reduced pay, particularly at the leadership level.
Communication among the leadership team has also ramped up as they take stock of the situation, make plans and try to stay in front of it as best they can. These plans include working with vendors and creditors to delay payments and make alternative arrangements when possible.
Their techs are using increased protocols around handwashing and glove use to help ensure their safety. CFESA members have also been communicating about the situation and sharing procedures. Eason remarked that as chair of the education and training committee they are working on a safety training module that will include a section on pathogens.
The challenges can be daunting, but Eason does see a light at the end of the tunnel. He sees that everyone is working together to take care of things and making sacrifices in the short-term to not damage the company in the long run.
“All of us, in all parts of the industry, need each other to survive this thing,” said Eason. “If we can get through this and take care of each other, we can reap the rewards on the other end.”