As operators grow more accustomed to the new industry landscape, it has become glaringly obvious that one of the most important changes in the industry is the growing priority of health and safety.
Vitally important for both customer optics and for keeping staff and patrons safe, health and safety has never been more integral to the success of a restaurant business. The main roadblock however, for many businesses lies in attaining this heightened and on-going level of cleanliness. Achieving this requires knowledge, and the ability to disseminate it efficiently and effectively. Luckily, this is where the Academy for Hospitality Arts (AHA) comes in, spearheading this new health and safety initiative with their newly available COVID safety courses.
“If I had to sum it up in one word,” said Michael DiPeri, President and Founder of the AHA, “I’d say our new courses facilitate confidence. Confidence is what will determine a business’ success in this post-Covid world. An operator’s confidence that they are running a safe environment, staff’s confidence that they are working in one, guest confidence that they are entering a safe environment, and most importantly regulatory agencies confidence that we are in compliance with the latest safety protocols and implementing them to their fullest capacity.” With missteps being veritable death sentences for restaurants, doing everything one can to facilitate the types of confidence DiPeri describes is paramount.
Thankfully, the AHA’s new courses provide everything managers and other front of the house employees need with the ease of a virtual platform. The COVID Readiness Course (CRC), designed for wait staff and servers, prepares its students to execute new daily protocols centered around cleaning and disinfecting, keep inventory of proper materials needed for them, to contact trace, and to keep both themselves and customers safe.
The second course, the COVID Hospitality Compliance Officer (CHCO), is designed for leadership. This course is centered around identifying symptoms, isolation precautions, balancing the needs of staff and customers, and perhaps most importantly today, conflict resolution. “How many times have we seen clips on YouTube or TikTok of non-compliant confrontational customers overwhelming management simply because they are ill-prepared to handle these situations due to a lack of knowledge and confidence?” asked DiPeri. “How often do we see this lead to the staff member directly exposed quit because they feel disrespected, endangered, or just plain stressed? Our CHCO course teaches management how to calmly and rationally deal with these situations. They learn deescalate them while simultaneously remaining steadfast, and to convince the customer to comply or to quietly leave.” This type of skill isn’t just important for dealing with mask-averse customers, it’s important for dealing with any variety of customer complaint or conflict.
In addition to subjects directly related to health and safety, these courses also instruct those who opt to take them in a variety of other topics that have become more important due to the current climate. One of the most important of these is floor planning, and how to best alter and adapt one’s business to facilitate success. “Takeout and delivery have taken the restaurant world by storm, stated DiPeri. Many restaurants either didn’t have a takeout and delivery system designed to handle this volume, or simply didn’t have one at all. Our courses offer best practices and strategies designed to help operators allocate space and resources to reshape their business and provide them with the knowledge needed to best decide where cutbacks and compromises need to be made.”
Although many restaurants are operating with significantly reduced revenue, the AHA has factored this in and made these courses both extremely affordable and accessible, and a portion of proceeds from the CRC is going to the World Central Kitchen charity. Furthermore, both courses are available to both those who sign up through organizations as well as unaffiliated individuals who simply want to bring their hospitality skillset and knowledge to the next level.
“Our goal has always been to help those in the hospitality industry be the best they can possibly be, regardless of what that looks like. Right now, the most important thing is safety for everyone involved, and the best way we can make that a reality is by providing as much information and knowledge as we can. By offering tools, such as these new courses, we keep customers, staff, and owners safe. We help them build the confidence they need to focus on providing the best service possible,” said DiPeri.
For more information, and to learn how to register, those interested should visit the official AHA website.