How to Stop Your COVID-19 Cleaning Checklists from Being Pencil Whipped

by | 24-Oct-2022


The best way to get more people to visit your restaurant during the Coronavirus shut down is to instill trust that you are doing everything you can to keep your restaurant clean. One negative review or bad experience can really hurt your reputation.

Negative reviews have always been extremely hurtful for restaurants. A poll by Businesswire says 85% of Americans will not visit a restaurant with negative reviews about their business and that restaurants are the industry most affected by negative online reviews — even more than hotels.

All of this was before the Coronavirus, so imagine how much more important cleanliness is today.

Despite their importance to the success of your store, cleaning checklists are among the most pencil-whipped tasks in restaurant operations.

To improve execution with cleaning checklists, you have to create a culture of accountability in your stores.

Below we outline exactly how to achieve accountability by moving from paper to digital checklists that measure—and improve—employee execution.


1. Quit Using Paper

Skipping a small step here and there and marking it complete on paper checklists is how it all gets started. With your COVID-19 lists maybe it’s not wiping down a surface or not washing their hands as frequently as they need to.

In most cases, accountability for cleaning duties slips further and further down the priority list until it’s completely ignored — and that’s likely what has happened in your store, too.

Instead of actually wiping down the surfaces every hour and bathrooms, your employees are simply marking that it’s done, and calling it a day.

There’s no accountability for these tasks, so they’re being falsified on a regular basis.

This is the great weakness of paper checklists. If you’re not measuring them, they’re not improving.

Without micromanaging, there’s really no way to correct this, and making all your managers the “bad guy” isn’t the best way to get alignment on your team.

If you really want to stop pencil whipping, take away the pencil.


2. Switch to Digital Cleaning Checklists

When employees can handwrite their checklist items, they have the luxury of putting… well, anything they want.

They can claim any time, any temperature, and all the credit for whatever checklist items they please.

Digital checklists help curb checklist falsification, and help you measure checklist completion percentages, day by day.

When you equip employees with tools that remove human error, you get results you can rely on.

Digital checklists automatically name and time stamp every task the second it’s completed.

That means no employee can claim work for another employee, nor say a task was completed any other time than what it says on your digital checklist.

Even more, digital checklists go beyond the checkmark to give you photo-proof of completed work.

Want to make sure employees are cleaning off your hard surfaces every hour? Just require a photo of that task in your checklists.

And best of all you can check in on all of your stores whenever you want and wherever you are at.

An example of photo-proof inside a Jolt digital checklist.

Clean Restaurant Using Jolt


Digital checklists give managers the visibility they need to run their stores effectively.

Your high-performing employees will appreciate getting credit for their hard work, and the low-performers won’t be able to hide behind falsified paper checklists.

Digital checklists will reintroduce accountability to your team, and help employees develop the right habits around keeping the store clean.

Execute this repeatedly, and you’ll see a visible difference in a matter of days.


3. Consistency Leads to Better Performance and Cleaner Restaurants 

Now equipped with the right tools, your team should work towards consistency with cleaning tasks.

To ensure your restaurant is always clean and to help protect it from potentially spreading COVID-19, you can set up requirements for frequent cleaning of your FOH BOH, restroom, drive-thru, and hand washing reminders.

Using Jolt digital checklists, you’ll be able to set audible reminders for your team to complete cleaning tasks at specific times.

This will help foster a culture of accountability in your store, as employees will recognize store cleanliness as a priority.

Without the managers saying a word, your entire back of house team will be reminded it’s time to wash dishes, clean windows, or wipe down the grill.

This gets your team in a rhythm of doing things the right way. And as you get more consistent, you can even add new cleaning tasks to the daily rotation.

The cleaner your restaurant, the more customers will return (and bring their friends) for a quality meal in a clean atmosphere.

Keep your store clean on a regular basis, and you’ll see that benefit when reviewing annual revenue.


Jolt Digital Checklists Improve Restaurant Cleanliness

Digital checklists are the great advantage in back-of-house restaurant operations.

Not only do they make restaurant cleaning checklists easier to complete, but Jolt gives you perfectly accurate records for any inspections that come your way.

But most importantly, you’re execution critical cleaning tasks each and every day, and that’s the kind of consistency it takes to build a business.

Interested in Jolt for your store? Request a demo here, and we’ll show you how digital restaurant operations can help improve your stores today.