Coronavirus or Covid-19 has reshaped the world forever. The food industry has reacted at an incredible pace and is reinventing temporary services and offerings daily. The virus’ invasion’ has disrupted the entire industry, primarily dine-in facilities; the entrepreneurial spirit has led to a considerable increase in takeaway or delivery services and reconsidering intensive engagement with customers. The food industry has faced many historical challenges, it is fluid and resilient and will bounce back with more verve and strength, however this will take a bit of time. The change will be in phases, and some countries will be ahead of others. History has never seen such global devastation, this is a huge learning curve for all of us.
As the founder and managing director of BrandPortunity, I’ve seen the face of the food industry change dramatically in the decades I’ve been a specialist in the business. I am convinced that “it is essential to follow a strong ‘FOOD’ strategy” which I’ve been thinking about all the time.
What does this all mean for operators, entrepreneurs, foodies, businessmen, researchers and analysts?
The consequences of Covid-19 have been devastating and have negatively impacted our businesses and lives. However, we cannot stand still and be complacent; we have to revolutionise the industry and offer changing services to an expectant community. Many employees have lost their jobs due to restaurant closures. These people will also have to change and adapt to a new way of working. This is a global journey. Strength, motivation, empowerment and a ‘never give up’ attitude are essential for driving positive energy into the new future in general and into the food industry in specific, being an ‘entertaining’ and ‘human’ sector.
Restaurateurs, ‘foodpreneurs’ and operators will need to get back to work, observe, monitor and contribute to industry transformations and learn from leaders and changemakers. Operators and consumers will need to adapt and find the ‘new normal’. There are currently so many unanswered questions about the direction in which restaurants will change.
We need to leverage learnings from this observation phase whilst monitoring, strategizing, managing our current business, negotiating with landlords and key suppliers to tighten the relationship through supporting each-other financially by reducing rent fees and specific contracts and agreements. We need to be ready for a quick reaction and an immediate adaptation when we reach the next phase.
After the observation phase, the industry will revert back to ‘normal’ operations though they will have to respect new guidelines, consumer behaviour and the new ‘lifestyle’. Within the new guidelines, there will be consideration of table distancing, higher levels of hygiene, cashless payments, staff wearing masks and gloves, electronic doors and the serving of condiments and I am sure many others. Businesses will change and will continue to thrive. Operators and consultants should remain innovative and continue to build a relationship with their customers throughout these difficult times.
Businesses will see continual development of its brand and offerings, models will evolve, designs will reflect change and specials will become more inventive (McDonalds will save around $ 1 Billion to reshape its business model to support units growth).
Technology will be part of this development process and consideration given to digitising services to minimise areas of contact such as menus, payment methods, food preparation, order taking and table clearing and cleaning. The restauranteurs will also need to consider how they expand their brand in the future, enhance their cash flow and bottom line after this period, or gain new market share.
All in all, there is a genuine fear of the unknown. Still, the food industry is extraordinarily quick to change, to listen to their customers, take advice, be forward-thinking and remain positive in finding a new future for food, and brilliant ideas.