Current Challenges are Opportunities for Dining Improvements

David Koelling, President, Strategic Dining Services

As senior living dining rooms prepare to reopen in senior living communities, operators need to recognize the huge opportunity they have in restarting their dining programs without the bad habits shaped throughout years of evolving operations. Take time to evaluate your service and food quality. Time is fleeting, this new normal allows communities to:

  • Ask residents to change established routines that were neither in their best interest nor yours. Residents are ready to make the changes needed to enhance their safety and get back to some socialization during meals. This is a rare opportunity, make the most of it.
  • Retool production details to allow better and more timely execution. Perfect batch-cooking make plate garnishing an exciting part of the presentation, on a daily basis.
  • Establish dining flows that will allow you to improve service – a precious opportunity. Focusing on the dining experience takes the dining program to the next level and sets your community apart in the marketplace.
  • Streamline menus and focus on menu evolution. The more limited offerings many residents experienced during the last several months were required in order to allow the kitchen to execute the complexities of individualized delivered meals. The same thinking needs to be applied as we move back into the dining rooms. A simplified menu with fewer choices will allow your teams to focus on execution, temperature control (hot food served HOT) and beautiful presentations. Put your full commitment behind the quality execution of a smaller menu.
  • Hit a reset button in dining operations. This opportunity is a rare bird, (pun intended) and should have everyone’s attention.

In addition to improving service and food quality, this re-start allows us to really look at the cost side of our dining departments. Now is the time to strike in order to re-open an efficient, polished dining program that delights your residents and guests, and to be more fiscally responsible than ever before. Subtle changes in menu approach, purchasing, staffing details and training now, will pay big dividends short term and into the future.

The financial opportunities abound, and this window will soon pass.

As marketing and sales activity picks back up, are you positioned to stand out from the pack? Future residents look for communities that engage them and that offer a dining experience that they can look forward to enjoying on a daily basis. Dining can be an amazing marketing tool if properly positioned. We have this small window to make transformative changes in how dining can play a crucial role in the overall success of the community.

To be clear, the focus remains the health and safety of our residents as well as staff, any new protocols must be driven with that singular commitment. This transitional period holds a unique opportunity to realign culinary and service standards that delight your residents for years to come.

David C. Koelling
Strategic Dining Services
Phone: 888.406.1902

Topics: Administration , Departments , Facility management , Featured Articles , Nutrition , Resident Care