Most of us have been asked to tour individuals and groups through our operations at one time or another. We take pride in our staff and in our facility. Why not show it off?
Let’s discuss some points to make those tours send the best message to your guests and your staff, while at the same time keeping them, and your food supply, safe and secure.
- Work with your team to plan what a tour will consist of and the route it should take. What messages are you trying to send? Not send? Who is authorized to give a tour? In what areas?
- Not all areas need to be seen or should be seen by a general tour group. Some areas are just too high-risk and may not add to the proper message anyway.
- Plan for the best time of day for all groups.
- Script out the tours with at least a route and a talking point list if these will be regular events.
- Give your staff some warning for all tours.
- How many guests on the tour at any one time should be allowed, to keep them safe and ensure that someone on the tour does not have the opportunity to threaten your food supply? Keep the groups small and plan a route that will keep them safe. A walk through the wet and slippery warewashing area may not be the best choice, for example.
- What do you want a general tour to see and hear? Clean and neat staff, producing F&B in well organized and clean environment? Salty kitchen language will send a message as well.
- I suggest having ALL tour groups stop at the hand sink on the way in and wash their hands before entering the kitchen. This is a message you are sending: “We take sanitation seriously here, and if you enter our production space, you need to adhere to the same rules as everyone else.” At minimum, have hand sanitizer available and require that it be used.
- Check how your guests are dressed and what they are carrying. Shoes? Backpacks? Purses? If three backpacks go in, make sure three backpacks go out. The safety of your team rests on good planning, operational awareness, and vigilance. Better yet, don’t allow coats or bags. Have a secure area for the group to store their personal items before entering.
- Think like a security person and risk manager. Slips and falls are of a concern, as is getting hit by carts and trolleys being moved around. Have one tour guide in the lead and one in the back of the group to make sure no one gets lost and to minimize the opportunity to intentionally adulterate any food items.
- Your staff needs to stay safe as well. Make sure they know you are touring a group and have the lead guide out front, keeping the tour in the right place at all times. A server on a mission with a full tray is not focused on a tour in the kitchen.
Norm Faiola, PhD, MPS, is the White Lodging Professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana. He can be reached at email@example.com.