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Food Standards Agency research reveals why nightlife venues need to pay attention to their hygiene practices

Following the Covid pandemic, public health is an even greater concern than ever before for the average consumer. A 2020 poll by P&G Professional found that 64% of customers see cleanliness and hygiene as the most important consideration of a venue, demonstrating a nine-point rise since the same study in 2019. In this new landscape, hospitality businesses of all kinds need to pay additional attention to their cleaning standards to stay competitive and keep customers coming back.

While poor hygiene practices in hospitality aren’t always glaringly obvious and are sometimes only revealed to customers when poor ratings are published, consumers are now frequently scrutinising their restaurants, hotels, clubs and even supermarkets. This can have a significant impact on the survival of a business and its reputation. Thankfully, there are a number of simple strategies nightlife venues can employ to improve their hygiene monitoring and keep their ratings high. 

Nightlife hygiene standards

Property Inspect’s recent research into the hygiene ratings of pubs, clubs and bars around the UK revealed that only 63.71% of venues hold a five rating. The study also examined 40 cities across England and Wales and determined that less than 50% of venues in Worcester, Cardiff, Norwich and Cambridge hold a five rating. 

Conversely, over 80% of nightlife spaces in Gloucester, Nottingham, Lincoln, Derby and Carlisle have a rating of five. There’s no clear divide in the data, suggesting that this is a city-by-city or even venue-by-venue issue. Thankfully, only 0.94% of all nightlife spots in the UK hold a rating of one, so the industry needs to focus more on improving rather than recovering. 

Why nightlife hygiene ratings are increasingly important

Hygiene ratings are typically related to restaurants and takeaways but, more than ever, consumers are also paying attention to the hygiene ratings of supermarkets, nightclubs, hotels and bakeries. 

With NFU Mutual revealing that 69% of shoppers now actively check the ratings of the places they buy from, there can be no denying hygiene is a more prominent concern to shoppers. Though many have readily returned to nightlife since the full relaxation of Covid restrictions in the UK, venues are still recovering from the long shut-down period. Additional challenges, like Covid passport rules being announced and then retracted put nightlife spaces at further risk and prove why businesses need to do all they can to entice customers back and keep them returning.

The potential cost of low hygiene ratings

The survey by NFU Mutual also found that 34% of customers would choose not to shop in a venue that held a rating of three or less. This increases to 61% of customers for venues rated two or less. While not every patron of a pub, club or bar is there to eat the food, the food hygiene standards are closely linked with the standards of hygiene around the business more broadly and customers are increasingly aware of that.

In addition to a drastic drop in potential customers and thousands lost in patronage, poor hygiene can result in damaging fines. For small businesses, low culpability starts at £300 while high culpability could cost you as much as £450,000. For larger businesses, this ranges from £6,000 to £3m. No matter what financial state the business is in following an extended period of restricted trading, these fines could end a business.

Simple and effective ways to manage and improve your hygiene practices

Centralisation & Digitisation

No matter the size of your business, keeping all your own inspections in a central place can be an effective way of keeping on top of changes and tracking improvements over time. Whether you operate in one venue or across several, keeping track of your cleaning activities in one place allows every member of the team to be involved and ensures nothing falls through the cracks.

Particularly in nightlife venues, space and time are scarce, which is why digitising your procedures can help you manage how your venue is cleaned, ensure that no information is lost and provide anybody coming into the business with a full record of your methods and practices.

Team awareness

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the nightlife industry is fast-paced and workers often operate independently to keep everything running smoothly. Making sure that everyone involved in the business knows how they can contribute to the improvement and upkeep of hygiene practices will put everyone on the same page so they can work more fluidly together.

Broader team awareness of what work is being done and what is still to be completed also helps hold every member responsible for the upkeep and improvement of standards. Hygiene is everyone’s responsibility so sharing more regular updates with the team and encouraging them to identify space for improvement wherever they see it will help your business grow.

Food hygiene training

If you’re not sure where to go after receiving a poor hygiene rating, there are many businesses that offer food hygiene training to develop your practices in line with the expectations of the Food Standards Agency. 

Even for those members of staff who may have undergone training before, this is a vital investment and a refresher course could be what pushes your business up a rating and encourages more customers to spend their money with you in the future.

The ongoing importance of hygiene ratings

The past few years have highlighted the true value of public health considerations throughout all kinds of businesses and environments. As we move forward, only those businesses who work hard to make spaces safe for their customers will be able to survive long-term. 

This article was written by Damon Culbert from Property Inspect, commercial compliance and property inspection software.

About Sarah OBeirne

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