Catering to your customers

21 December 2017

George Hand, sales manager for cleaning, hygiene and catering, Office Depot UK & Ireland, explains how businesses in the catering sector can engender customer loyalty by maintaining high cleaning standards

Cleaning and hygiene should always be a top priority for businesses and this is especially pertinent for catering sector organisations such as hotels, bars and restaurants. In addition to the extra degree of caution required for businesses where food is prepared, handled and consumed on the premises, their public-facing nature and reliance on repeat business means that any display of unclean or unhygienic practices could seriously damage their all-important reputations.

Customers naturally have high expectations when it comes to cleanliness, so it is essential that thorough cleaning routines are established. Staff should be educated on the importance of hygiene so as to make sure the entire team is pulling in the same direction.

Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is a particularly important aspect of bar and restaurant work. As one of the leading contributors to ill health in the workplace, unclean hands can wreak havoc with infection control in areas where food and drinks are regularly prepared for public consumption. While most people understand the importance of washing hands using soap and water, many do not realise that 20 seconds is the minimum time needed to kill germs. Appropriate signage reminding employees of the importance of proper practices might be helpful as a simple reminder.

It is important not only for employees to take responsibility for their own hygiene, but for employers in the sector to ensure their staff are up to date and fully informed. Similarly, employers should be sure to provide the best possible quality of soaps and sanitisers. The provision of soaps which are harsh on the skin can often result in a lower take-up, so moisturising, user-friendly soaps are usually the best option. 

Stock levels

In order to avoid harmful disruption to cleaning routines whilst maintaining all-important margins, catering businesses should always make sure their stock orders are thoroughly researched, planned and assessed. While stock levels of cleaning products need to be maintained, they should also not be allowed to become out of hand. Mindlessly reordering stock on a regular basis and acquiring a surplus can result in excess wastage as products pass their expiry date, driving up costs for restaurants, cafes and hotels. However, deciding upon which products to order can be difficult. There are numerous different accreditations and certifications available, meaning that finding the right, sustainable cleaning products for individual organisations can be confusing.

As such, it is important for businesses to keep abreast of the latest developments in the cleaning sector and make sure they fully understand the different marques and labels of available products. For instance, by properly understanding the industry, catering sector organisations can make use of the most sustainable, cost-effective products, such as disposable microfibre cloths. These allow businesses to use fewer chemicals and less water and yet still achieve a similar cleaning standard.

Supply chain

Streamlining the supply chain can also help catering businesses to engage with the green agenda profitably. By evaluating their cleaning supply chain and comparing it with changing business needs, establishments can increase the efficiency of procurement processes and therefore better meet sustainability targets. Opting for more concentrated chemicals, thus reducing packaging and storage space, and choosing a single supplier to provide a range of cleaning products, are just two of the ways in which businesses can reap the environmental and cost benefits of fewer shippings and deliveries.

Most reputable suppliers will be able to help businesses with identifying the best products to use in specific areas. In many cases, wall charts and relevant supporting information is available in formats that are easy for all to read and understand with the use of pictograms and basic instructions.

It is essential that all hospitality proprietors fully engage their employees when it comes to cleaning and hygiene procedures. They should be well-educated in personal hygiene, possess a strong understanding of business-wide cleaning and hygiene procedures and appreciate their responsibility with regards to an organisation’s overall reputation. By involving the whole team, organisations in the catering industry can make sure that their business is hygienic and attractive all year round, encouraging repeat business from happy and loyal customers.