By Austen Dack
P&G Professional (the away-from-home division of Procter and Gamble) has partnered with Million Pound Menu & First Dates presenter and the UK’s best-loved maître d’ – Fred Sirieix – to support independent restaurateurs as the UK emerges from lockdown.
Fred’s support of P&G Professional and the restaurant industry will be amplified through the business’ inaugural partnership with Restaurant Collective, the not-for-profit community of restaurateurs and industry professionals championing the UK’s independent dining scene. P&G Professional is supporting the initiative which aims to level the playing field, giving a louder voice to smaller operators and providing valuable tools and resources to help them succeed, particularly as the sector emerges from lockdown. P&G Professional and Fred will deliver guidance, expertise and mentorship to members of Restaurant Collective, helping businesses navigate the challenges onset by the pandemic.
To celebrate this partnership I asked Fred some questions on some of the hot topics in and around the hospitality trade at the moment.
What are your thoughts on those who reserve seats in a much reduced hospitality arena and then don’t show, & how would you overcome?
It is rude and very disrespectful. A robust reservation policy is the only way to overcome this.
How do you convince the public that a restaurant is safe and ready to welcome them in, and do you think we need a COVID safe accreditation for restaurant windows?
It’s so important that restaurants communicate all of their cleaning and hygiene standards with the public – as diners won’t see everything that happens, but will still want to feel reassured.
For example, diners won’t always see the toilets being cleaned – but they’ll be reassured to know that it happens very regularly. Cleaning a bathroom once a day will look very different to one cleaned every hour.
And if you want to make this really clear – a form with signatures and time stamps after every clean, stuck to the back of the bathroom door will help communicate your standards and keep all your staff accountable. Using products that customers recognise will help to build trust in your hygiene standards. If your venue uses cleaning brands that customers recognise, such as Flash Professional, Fairy Professional or Professional Microban 24, you can display a CleanPLUS Experience sticker in your window.
With a combination of the pandemic and Brexit decimating the hospitality workforce how do we attract new people to the industry?
This is how you do it:
- To launch the biggest ever UK communication campaign to change the hospitality industry’s reputation forever
- To educate careers advisers and headteachers on the value and benefits of careers in hospitality
b.To include ‘hospitality’ in the school curriculum, focusing on values and cooking basics, to introduce live pop-up restaurants in schools, and to organise work placements in the industry for older pupils
- To review and, where possible, increase the budget for catering colleges and apprenticeship schemes
- To review and streamline the qualification system in the catering sector with new criteria for measuring success
- To roll out The Right Course* – designed to introduce offenders to the hospitality industry – in all appropriate C and D prisons in the UK. The Right Course seeks to transform staff restaurants in prisons into high street like operations / businesses using existing facilities and equipment. The restaurants are run by prisoners, gaining industry-recognised qualifications and experience. Upon release we work to secure our graduates jobs in the hospitality sector.
- To review pay, tips and service charges with a view to financially incentivising staff
Our sector fish &chips continued to feed the nation throughout the pandemic, what message do you have for those brave folk who stayed open in a takeaway capacity?
Keep frying and carry on
Technology has gathered rapid pace to help with bookings, organise delivered food & now even distributing excess food (via apps). Do you see technology as an important part of your armour, and also can you ever see a time where robots could be used in a restaurant?
Technology is indeed very important and will always be so. However in our industry the human touch will always be paramount
Given your tie in with P&G Professional, how important is it to know that the whole establishment is clean from top to bottom?
I believe it’s our job to make diners feel secure, but also offer a great dining experience. You can’t provide one without the other. You simply can’t offer an amazing experience while the front of house space doesn’t meet basic hygiene standards.
The biggest risk to ANY restaurant business is poor hygiene. You simply cannot afford to get it wrong. Research(2) from P&G Professional found 64% of Brits say that a good hygiene rating is now most important when choosing a restaurant, above cost (58%) and customer service (45%).