Should Restaurants Hire a Cleaning Captain to Maintain Strict Safety Protocols?

Extraordinary changes have taken place in the world in the past few months, propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Who would’ve ever imagined the global economy coming to a near standstill? 42% of the U.S. labor force working from home and millions losing their jobs overnight? Staying indoors and social distancing becoming the norm? The future is uncertain, but everything that happens from now on will be defined by the enormous impact the pandemic has had on people’s psyche. Not only are we living differently, but our thought process has taken a completely different turn in a very short span of time.

As people attempt to adjust to the new normal, one of the most prominent changes in their behavior has been a heightened consciousness for health and hygiene. Euromonitor points out that in the COVID-19 era customers have developed “paramount concerns over hygiene, physical health, and mental wellbeing”.

In this context, restaurants are now beginning to come up with novel concepts to accommodate these changed behaviors. ‘Cleaning Captain’ is just one of them. This new safety position has been created by Just Salad, a fast-casual salad chain based in New York City. But other restaurants are also starting to follow suit.

Who is a ‘Cleaning Captain’?

The restaurant industry has always adhered to strict health guidelines, but it needs to up the safety standards even further. This is where the cleaning captain steps in. Frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, tables, cash registers, workstations, sink handles, bathroom stalls, etc. need to be cleaned every 30 minutes. The captain alternates between cleaning front-of-house and back-of-house. After completing the task, he/she is required to sanitize themselves.

At Just Salad chain, instead of hiring a new employee, the position was offered to current employees—mostly the line member at the location with the highest seniority. The company also made sure that employees returning to work after being furloughed or laid off underwent a cleaning-captain training to get a hang of new safety and sanitizing procedures.

Do you need to hire a ‘Cleaning Captain’?

The answer is a definite ‘Yes’!

You can choose to call this position by a different name but having a full-time employee making sure that the restaurant premises are kept safe and hygienic for both guests and the staff is important going forward. Here’s why,

• An Accenture report titled ‘COVID-19 will permanently change consumer behavior’ says that having a health strategy will be a strategic differentiator between successful brands and the rest for the foreseeable future.

• Customers will frequent your restaurants or order delivery from you only if they have complete confidence that their health is not being compromised in the process.

• Having a cleaning captain in place provides an assurance that you’re concerned about the well-being of the people. Empathy is a much sought out quality from brands today.

• If you hire a cleaning captain from the existing team, like Just Salad, extra costs will not be incurred.

So from ensuring safety for customers and employees to evoking trust and loyalty in your brand, a cleaning captain can become an important part of your restaurant’s health strategy.