I wonder if it’s a coincidence that since the announcement of a further relaxation of lockdown measures, Stern Consultancy has seen a jump in contact from clients planning for the return to work and engaging with us for potential solutions on how their catering could look. There’s obviously not just one solution that fits all, we’re all different and we’re all learning what works best for our organisation.
It’s a sad truth that this will be a painful time for many in the hospitality industry. However, as Churchill said, “don’t waste a good crisis”.
I am not in being flippant or in any way devaluing the horrors associated with the crisis. But it’s true that crises also bring opportunities, and in the long term this one potentially could offer many opportunities across the hospitality industry, especially in the foodservice sector.
So, why is this?
Well, here are a few exciting initiatives that have been forced out of the need to respond to Covid-19 and the new way of life.
- Cash has more or less gone, a fact accepted even in more conservative circles. This has cost efficiency benefits and more importantly has been proven to increase spend.
- What’s also exciting are the alternative payment methods that are being adopted, mainly via apps, which can allow prepayment and have automatic loyalty systems built in.
- Self-scanning tills in addition to the usual wave & pay via a variety of methodologies are going to be commonplace, aiding physical distancing and reducing labour costs.
- Unmanned catering solutions have been around for a while with low uptake. This could be the opportunity to follow supermarkets and introduce self-service micromarkets, as clients seek ways of feeding an unknown, but often small number of staff without it being cost prohibitive.
- Hand in hand with self-service micromarkets is the growth in central production kitchens, which help caterers flex production up and down whilst maintaining high street quality. Central production kitchens also open up new markets to caterers, being able to offer prospective clients the advantage of a catering service they may not have been able to afford in the past.
- As the workplace evolves to support workers who are less often in the office, a safe on point catering service will be an important part of attracting personnel back to their desk. It needs to be a creative proposition which will then support them as they are having formal and informal meetings in a variety of settings – almost always with some sort of F&B in hand.
- As life settles down, caterers are going to have to be truly more commercial in their outlook as their financial model has changed and clients still require them to take financial responsibility. This is without necessarily offering them as many potential customer numbers as they could previously, forcing innovation and driving quality to retain the customer on site.
So yes, we are in the midst of a crisis but as we learn and change our working and social outlook, there will be positives that we can take from this, as all businesses innovate and adapt to the new way of life.
Managing Director, Stern Consultancy
Reopening: Measure twice cut once
Don’t waste a good crisis – 30 June 2020 – Don’t waste a good crisis