Creating a Great Relationship with Restaurant Health Inspectors

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Many restaurateurs would love a world where they could simply set out their café tables, make great food and rake in the money. Of course, this isn’t how the food and beverage industry works, and one of the things culinary entrepreneurs must consistently worry about is health inspections. This doesn’t mean, though, that health inspectors should be viewed as adversaries. Instead, follow these simple tips to build a good relationship with inspectors. In the end, it could mean the difference between an A- and a B+.

Do a Little Homework
Typically, local health departments have copies of health inspection forms that they’ll hand out. If this is the case, no restaurateur should pass up the opportunity. This allows them to go through their entire eatery, from under the restaurant booths to above the highest storage shelves, and know what their inspector will be looking for.

In the end, this makes the inspector’s job easier and shows that the owner really cares about keeping things impressive. This will create an almost immediate level of respect from the inspector.

Stay Professional and Courteous
A single smile can go a long way, but it’s when a person isn’t happy when professionalism and courtesy come into play. Managers and the owner should feel comfortable speaking with a health inspector if they believe the inspector has made a mistake. In this situation, though, it’s counterproductive to be confrontational.

Instead, managers should invite the inspector to sit at a café table and ask why they got a low grade in a particular area. If there’s a disagreement over this, it’s okay for the manager to politely explain their own interpretation of the rule. They won’t always win, and this is okay. Once it’s said and done, the inspector will appreciate the professionalism and a solution will have likely been reached.  

Fix Mistakes When They Occur
Some restaurants will get a 93 on a health inspection and never change a thing. While this is a decent grade, there are obviously a few things that are costing them points. When a health inspector comes back and sees the same mistakes or oversights every single time, it’s enough to get on their nerves a bit.

Because of this, restaurateurs should strive to fix every issue that cost them points on their last inspection. Whether it’s a leaky faucet or food not properly stored, these are the little problems that, if ignored, will make the inspector feel that they are being ignored. This is no way to build a good relationship.

Get Immersed in the Community
Stepping away from the café tables and bistro chairs to get involved in the community is a great way to garner attention from potential customers. By serving on local and state committees related to food and health inspection, though, an opportunity is created to work directly with inspectors. This allows restaurateurs to build rapport with local officials and inspectors while also educating them about keeping their eatery safe for everyone.

Health inspections are a fact of life in the restaurant industry. And while culinary geniuses may not end up hanging out at the café tables of a local coffee shop with their inspector, the aforementioned tips can go a long way in building a functioning and mutually-beneficial relationship.