A failing health inspection and/or low score can immediately affect your business negatively. The press is usually all over it and therefore, the market will know about the issue quite rapidly.
One of the largest problems is people don’t know what caused the bad score, just that you got it. If they do take the time to read a score sheet, the labels are vague which leads to misunderstanding. So, the assumption will be that the cleanliness of your establishment is in question and; therefore, not a place at which the market will want to eat. Your revenue will suffer, but it doesn’t have to suffer as bad as it could. There are ways to reduce the negative effects, but it will take honesty, transparency and immediate action. Here’s what to do:
1. Address the situation, don’t hide from it. Hiding under the covers won’t make the monster go away. In fact, it may make it bigger and meaner. You have to come clean and be honest. Fess up to the issues and lay out the plan for fixing them. Often times, poor health inspections have little to do with cleanliness and everything to do with nitpicks like when hands are washed and sanitized. Don’t down play the issues either. Be serious, concise and honest.
2. Don’t just say it. Do it. Take the necessary measures to make the promised changes a reality. Hire an outside consultant if necessary. Bad habits form over time and they’ll take time to break. Stay focused and create reminders and signage to ensure employees remember the key processes appropriately.
3. Humanize the Restaurant. Give the restaurant a face, or faces. Take pictures of the staff working, smiling, serving food, high-fiving, all of it. Putting faces to the restaurant makes it more human and more real. It’s harder to dislike a place when there are faces involved.
4. Apologize and move on. Some folks will tell you to never apologize. Big mistake. Humans apologize. You messed up. You didn’t deliver the quality you should have to your market. An apologize goes a long way when coupled with immediate positive action. Don’t overdo it, but definitely apologize in the statement to the public.
5. Offer incentive to try again. Once you’ve passed the inspection, you need to get people back in. The best way to spike traffic back is to offer an incentive. Be aggressive here. Get them in the door and let them experience the new you. Post this on all social media outlets, via your email blast and on your website. Get the traffic going again.
No one wants to fail their health inspection. Being proactive through operations and management will help prevent the detrimental situation from occurring. However, if the worst happens, don’t hide from it. Take immediate action and communicate thoroughly. You’ll lose less business and recover quicker.