McDonald’s Reopening Guide Reveals Restaurants’ New Complexities

McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant company, has an almost-60 page PDF for franchisees on how to handle the nitty-gritty of re-opening as the coronavirus lockdown starts to ease.

The guidelines, which were viewed by Bloomberg, address in detail how workers should cheerfully wipe down tables while maintaining strict social distancing, and address patrons that refuse to respect other diners’ bubbles of space or wear face masks.

It also includes instructions on contactless operations, deep cleaning procedures, kiosks, restrooms, wellness and temperature checks, self-service beverage bars, play areas and quite a bit more.

At the start of the document, titled “Dine In Re-opening Playbook,” the company tells its restaurant operators: “We ask that you remember: we only get one chance to do this the right way.”

The guide underscores how much is at stake for McDonald’s and other restaurants as they open their dining rooms back up across the U.S. In short: Lives depend on the industry’s millions of workers making the right decision across the nation’s eateries.

“America is still anxious,” a recentreport from restaurant researcher Datassential said. “More than half of people feeling very concerned and hugely worried about their own personal health.” The reported also found that “Americans still have a soft spot for restaurants.”

Nonetheless, this shows restaurants will need to tread carefully as they reopen.

The strain of the challenge, combined with the loss of sales as millions of quarantined Americans reacquaint themselves with their kitchens, is expected wreak havoc on the industry with OpenTable seeing as many as 1 in 4 restaurantsclosing permanently as a result of the economic upheaval.

Drive-Thru Advantage

McDonald’s and other fast-food peers do have a built-in advantage because of their focus on drive-thru and takeout, which have largely continued to operate throughout the pandemic lockdown. Given this, the company senses an opportunity, with Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski saying this week that McDonald’s can use its scale “to deepen our competitive advantages.”

McDonald’s is increasing its advertising spending to help franchisees recover and providing “targeted financial support to the hardest hit organizations in our system,” Kempczinski said in astatement.

The company is giving owners the final say on when dining rooms reopen, but it lists at least eight points that have to be addressed first, including permission from local governments, sufficient staffing and access to cleaning supplies, among others.

Once the decision to open has been taken, six steps must be taken, from the immediate implementation of enhanced cleaning procedures to wellness and temperature checks for all employees reporting to work.

The company is advising restaurants at first to only allow consumers to enter the dining room to place and takeout orders, not to eat there. Stores must have protective panels at all order-taking areas and floor decals, and have the option to add “handless” ways to open doors and contactless hardware for its faucets and soap dispensers.

Restaurants can then graduate to stage dining in. For that to happen, the staff will need to carry out a deep clean of the dining area and then clean and sanitize tables after each use. For table service, employees must place orders in a double folded bag on a tray and ensure the order is correct before taking the tray away. Restaurants must have masks available for customers who request them.

There are scripted responses to questions from customers such as “why are you re-opening your dining rooms now?” and “will all employees wear masks and gloves?”

In response to the first question, workers are instructed to respond by listing the day and branch of government that has given the green light for in-restaurant dining, and then say the following: “With our enhanced safety and sanitation procedures in place, we will be keeping the health and safety of employees and customers top of mind while giving our customers some semblance of normalcy.”

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