COVID-19 Changes the Restaurant and Fast Food Industry

By David Godfrey on Oct 19th, 2020

Every day, more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults eat some type of restaurant fast food, according to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics.  The National Restaurant Association projected overall industry sales will hit a new high of $863 billion in 2019.  COVID-19 changed all that! According to the National Restaurant Association more than $80 billion in sales will have been lost by the end of April.  COVID-19 has basically shuttered the fast food and restaurant business.  

On the flip side, according to a recent Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) report, order volumes for food manufacturers surged by as much as 500 per cent.  In simple terms – all those customers who ate out are now eating at home.  Grocery store chains now dominate the food industry.  The new “go to” dining experience is in your dining room or perhaps for the more adventurous…your living room.

Make no mistake, grocery will want to continue the “dine-in” trend post COVID-19.  Most people agree the world will be a different place to do business after COVID-19.  To compensate there are lots of ideas to win back restaurant customers ranging from theme nights to reimagined menus to on-site cooking classes.  But what about one of the basics - like cleanliness.  

If you own or manage a multi-site business, validation becomes more of a challenge. You can try to be everywhere at the same time or use a cleaning validation app such as FotoFinish.  This unique new app puts all of your sites in the palm of your hand every day providing work visibility and even validation of work execution. In essence, you increase cleaning performance while reducing supervision costs.

Common sense puts cleanliness at the top of restaurant customer concerns.  Even before COVID, according to the 2017 Consumer Cleaning Insights Survey by P&G, if a restaurant’s restrooms are not clean, 88 percent of customers wonder about the safety of the food being served and further states:  it’s how clean and fresh a hotel, restaurant, salon or office is that matters most for 92 percent of consumers when deciding if they will become a repeat customer.

Imagine how important cleanliness will be after COVID-19.

COVID-19has put an incredible amount of focus on “clean”.  Training your staff will be paramount as will supervising your staff.  


OUTSIDE - First impressions are first impressions, so the outside is your invitation to the inside, make it count.  

- Parking Lot and Landscaping - If you want your staff to keep the parking lot clean, you’ll want to provide them with the right tools. Sweep the lot using a good outdoor hard bristle broad broom paying attention to the edges and corners where dirt tends to build up.  Collect the sweepings using a strong dust pan able to hold the weight of sand and dirt. Do not have your staff bend down to pick up debris – they won’t do it!  Make it easy on them by providing a litter picker and a garbage bag frame with shoulder strap.  And don’t get mad if they tend to take their time on those nice sunny days.

- Bricks and mortar - In between the monthly power wash using your power washer have the outside ledges, door frames and window ledges wiped on a weekly basis.

- Signage– Keep all signage in good repair, clean and up to date.  Try to remember how you thought about a sign with missing letters or a sign using an M as a W.  For the cost of new letters your reputation will remain intact.

- Windows– One of the best exterior investments you can make is a basic window washing kit consisting of a extending handle, wash pad and squeegee.  The secret to a good clean window clean is the squeegee; after washing the window dampen the squeegee first then clean from the top down, wiping the squeegee after every stroke to reduce streaking

- Garbage Cans - Do not forget to empty the outside garbage cans regularly using the double bag technique.  Spray deodorizer in the can before adding the new bag(s) then wipe down the can and cover using degreaser.  If there are quite a few outside cans and a cart is used to collect the garbage bags make sure the cart has something attached to it to hold bags, degreaser, deodorizer, and a cleaning cloth.  If the tools are handy the job will get done.

FRONT OF HOUSE (Bar and dining room) – A small child crawls on the floor much to the horror of the parent if the floor is dirty; a sticky tabletop is dirty whether it is clean or not; a clean service counter top is dirty if the counter front is dirty; a messy garbage station makes all the tables near it look dirty.  Impressions of a good meal are directly linked to site cleanliness, in fact the P&G Professional Survey found that 91% agree that they’ll have a negative opinion if the public spaces are not clean.  91%!!

- Tables – one of the latest challenges with COVID and disinfecting is some disinfectants leave a sticky residue or soften the table varnish.  Ask your cleaning supplier for productoptions.  If you feel your tables are continually sticky put a small sign on the table stating that you disinfect the tables after every service which may result in a sticky surface.  They will appreciate knowing the reason!

- Counter Fronts – Why is it 60% of clean counter fronts have dirty baseboards?  Anything dirty attached to something clean makes it dirty.  Schedule a monthly baseboard clean removing dust first then wiping with degreaser.  

- Behind the Counters - If you think the customer cannot see the behind the counters gostand in front of the counter where the customer stands or walk the customer traffic lanes of your restaurant.  Clean is in the details so keep an eye on baseboards, ledges, floors, and corners.

- Clean As You Go – Teach all your staff this simple lesson and your customers will notice the difference of clean.  See dirt – clean dirt; see debris – pick up debris, it’s that easy.

BACK OF HOUSE (Kitchen and storage) – There are many financial risks associated to kitchen cleaning fails.  It is widely accepted that cleaning helps prevent the spread of pathogens and viruses.  Savvy foodies check online for food safety violations.  According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) over 60% of restaurant fires every year are caused by cooking equipment costing the industry over $165 in property damage.  Not to mention the loss of life or injury to staff and customer.  The “back of house” should be kept clean and sterile as a hospital operating room.

BATHROOMS –There is a very successful chain of gas stations that don’t advertise the quality of their gas or the services they offer - they advertise clean washrooms.  End of story! It’s that important to their business and to their customers.  In food service the P&G Professional survey found that if a restaurant’s restrooms are not clean, 88 percent of customers wonder about the safety of the food being served.  

- Chrome Fixtures – After cleaning chrome fixtures mist glass cleaner over them then buff with a dry cloth to give a sparkle clean (works on porcelain too).  Our grandmothers had a good idea - use a toothbrush to get between any fixture and the wall.

- Floor and Wall Tile – If you use a good floor tile cleaner and your floors are not coming up clean it is probably because you are not giving the chemical to work.  Leave the wet chemical on the floor for 5 minutes or more (depending on label directions) so the chemical can do its job.  

- Hand Dyers and Soap Dispensers – A lot of people flick their hands of excess moisture before using a hand dryer leaving residue under the hand dryer. Did you know soap residue is sticky and attracts dirt?  Hard to believe but if you have not cleaned under the soap dispenser in a while look and you will see what you don’t want your customers to see.  A daily wipe of under the hand dryer and soap dispenser will prevent ugly buildup of residue.

- Urinal and Toilets - Often overlooked or more to the point “under looked” is cleaning under the urinal where you can get what’s called a skunk stripe running under the urinal (there is some truth about not being able to hit the broad side of a barn).   Small children are apt to ask their parents what that yellow stripe under the urinal is. Toilet bases and the undersides of the bowl are hard to reach to clean and therefore missed more often than not.    


People cannot see pathogens or viruses however this pandemic has increased the public’s perception of clean.  Details will matter and will make or break your success. Train your staff, supervise their work and validate the results to help ensure success.  

FotoFinish keeps cleaners accountable,yielding reduced supervision costs while improving cleaning results across multiple sites.  Contact a Fotofinish representative today for more information. Using advanced proprietary app technology and customizable reporting structures,Fotofinish puts your eyes on your business.  



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