As foodservice operations navigate the path forward post-COVID-19, service companies have a key role to play. Not only do they ensure equipment is up and running safely and efficiently, service agents can support operational best practices in commercial kitchens.
Technicians Role During COVID-19
With the decrease in service calls, technicians’ roles and responsibilities may have shifted, at least temporarily. Some technicians are taking on additional tasks such as warehouse and cleaning projects. Many are also increasing their focus on training, whether through industry trade organizations, manufacturer programs or in-house education initiatives.
Reinforcing training around proper cleaning and sanitation best practices is critical in order to ensure safety on job sites. These ideas include:
- 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
Clark Service Group’s Approach
Beyond standard safety practices and the use of PPE to protect service technicians and end users, Clark Service Group has implemented innovative training programs for their team members.
We spoke with Katie Poole, Executive Director of Customer Experience, and Rob Dunwody, Mid-Atlantic Regional Service Manager, with Clark Service Group on how they’ve used this time to advance their approach to training.
One of those initiatives, which Clark Service Group started implementing even before the COVID-19 pandemic, is ServSafe training through the National Restaurant Association (NRA) for their technicians.
“We’re an extension of the teams serving food, so either we’re contributing to their safety culture or detracting from it,” said Katie. Clark Service Group has found that the ServSafe training helps reinforce the “why” behind what they do and motivates their team.
For 30 years, ServSafe has provided educational resources, materials and programs to help attract and develop a strong industry workforce. ServSafe provides training that is directly applicable to service technicians, such as proper temperatures for foodservice equipment. The courses also cover timely information, like how viruses and pathogens transfer in kitchen.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it presents to the foodservice industry, ServSafe has developed resources designed to keep workers and customers safe.
For example, the Food Handler Online Course and Exam covers five key areas:
- Basic Food Safety
- Personal Hygiene
- Cross-Contamination & Allergens
- Time and Temperature
- Cleaning and Sanitation
In addition to proper training, service technicians can consider offering customers essential products like ice machine sanitizer, cashier shields, sanitizer stations and handwashing timers for staff.
Clark Service Group sees this type of training as beneficial for their employees and company in the long run.
“We’re adding additional tasks and training so that when business does pick back up, we’re stronger than before.”
Join the Back to Open discussion
This is a collective effort, because, as Katie said, “how we tackle this as an industry will impact how quickly we get back to ‘normal’.” We are all stronger together and can support each other on the road “back to open.”
The Back to Open initiative is our way of highlighting conversations that matter as commercial kitchens begin to restart and serve customers. Through articles, podcasts, social media posts and blog posts, we want to address current realities, talk through projections and discuss what shifting from survival to recovery looks like across foodservice operations. It is our goal to build connections during this complicated time and share information that is important and valuable to you.
Here’s to getting back to open!