As the country grapples with the realities of reopening, the public is eager yet cautious to return to activities that provide a sense of normalcy. While we can collectively agree that “normal” may be a moving target, many consumers are interested in returning to shopping, dining, and other tasks. In this post, we’re going to take a look at what Americans are expecting as they venture out into the post-COVID world, along with what obligations businesses have to meet these priorities.
For those businesses attempting to re-open during a time when many question whether or not it’s safe to venture out, the stress is great. There’s only one chance to get it right and the possibility of closing down shop once again can be detrimental to the viability of the business. In an attempt to better understand what customers are looking for in regards to safe and effective business practices, A Closer Look recently surveyed over 100 establishments across a variety of industries that includes retail, senior living, restaurant, hotel, multi-family residential housing, and self-storage. Our findings show that an overwhelming number of customers consider having proper health and hygiene measures in place as critical to their patronage. Our survey also reveals that 50% of businesses say that they are relying solely on their individual locations to adhere to procedures and guidelines and an even higher percentage report not collecting feedback from customers on how they feel about the health and hygiene measures that have been put in place. These findings suggest that there is room for improvement when it comes to gaining the confidence of consumers.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released suggested guidelines to prepare businesses for a safe transition, many feel lost in implementing a streamlined plan for both their employees and customers to safely return. Combined with the fact that only three out of 10 consumers were eager to leave their home at the beginning of May, it can be surmised that returning to business as usual will not be an easy task. Earning the trust of a skittish public is the biggest hurdle on the path to re-opening.
While the consensus is that keeping 6-feet apart and wearing a face mask is effective, there are additional safety measures that could be beneficial to create confidence for consumers. In a recent interview, Chloe Demrovsky, CEO of Disaster Recovery Institute International stated, “Customers are going to be demanding, not just assumptions of safety, but visible steps and measures that companies are taking.” Regardless of the industry, consumers want to see an abundance of safety measures, such as frequent cleaning and physical barriers. The best way to create a sense of security for shoppers and diners is to implement standard health and hygiene measures that are consistent and apparent to consumers.
The hospitality industry has been especially hard hit throughout the pandemic. The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) is taking on this unique challenge with a program aimed at reassuring consumers that it is indeed safe to begin dining out. The new Texas Restaurant Promise Certification Program will train, inspect, and certify restaurants on the additional precautions that must be followed, per the Texas Governor’s standard health protocols. The only initiative of its kind, the goal is to build trust between restaurants and their guests by ensuring employees and owners understand the necessary safety protocols of operating in a COVID-19 environment. Restaurants that graduate from the program receive a Texas Restaurant Promise Certification decal to display, letting guests and patrons know that those businesses are focused on their health and safety.
A Closer Look is proud to be a part of the Texas Restaurant Promise Certification Program by offering health and hygiene evaluation and ongoing monitoring. Our Health and Hygiene Satisfaction Program, a three-pronged approach to help businesses measure and monitor locations’ ability to execute and maintain critical customer-facing health and hygiene standards, will help set restaurant standards moving forward in a post-COVID world.
The training portion of the Texas Restaurant Promise Certification will include five courses with a focus on each role within the restaurant including new protocols for owners and operators, take-out, delivery, food trucks, front of house staff, back of house staff, and cleaning crew. To become certified and earn a decal, employees from a restaurant must complete all five courses. In addition, we will partner with restaurant owners to identify potential problem areas to address based on the health and hygiene assessments and direct health and hygiene feedback from their own customers. The valuable insights directly from the consumer can assist in identifying and addressing any shortcomings in real time. Upon successfully earning the Texas Restaurant Promise Certification, restaurants will join A Closer Look’s Trusted Partner Program to allow consumers to provide continual health and hygiene feedback.
As a data analytics company with over 25 years of experience, we recognize when consumer trends shift with current events. As people look for assurances before venturing out into uncertain territory, we offer safety measures and standards that offer peace of mind. Today’s customers want to see visible measures being taken before deciding to support an establishment. As safety practices continue to drive spending, we’re here to help both the business and the consumer make sound decisions that support health, mutual trust and recovery.