Being confident of things has not been in vogue recently. Too many cul-de-sacs.
However, if there IS one thing we can have confidence in it’s that we will see the word ‘confidence’ appearing more and more in the next few weeks.
Let’s not be downbeat. This surely has to be the right attitude to take. ‘Reopening with confidence’ will be the headline across much of the hospitality industry in the days to come - let’s celebrate that.
But reopening - how? Reopening with what? And for whom?
What are some concrete areas that can give our confidence some credibility?
Let’s take a look at some ways it can be achieved - there is little point in just having faith in your own faith.
Follow the Science
And the scientists. There is no doubt that any proper confidence is orbiting around the effectiveness of the vaccines, and of course, how the public respond to the opportunity of receiving the jab.
“For the first time since the pandemic began, I can sense that optimism is spreading faster than the virus,” says behavioural scientist Sarah Jones at Imperial College London, who co-led the global attitudes towards a COVID-19 vaccine survey. “It was very important to us to see how attitudes were changing” once national roll-outs started, says Melanie Leis, a policy researcher at Imperial College London who co-led the project.
This is the main reason we can have for a confident return by the workforce in the next few weeks as the economy begins to move again.
But with this in place, can caterers hang their proverbial hats on anything else?
Follow the Signs
If you follow the science, you will also need to follow the signs. Things are pointing towards a change in how offices will want their catering services delivered. Flexibility may be the best way of describing what is required to really have confidence that your team is ready to return. Hear is how one Ops director summed up how they have navigated through the challenges: "Having the ability to set a suitable lead time has also allowed us to ‘cook to order’ and minimise waste during what is already a challenging time for the industry. The customisation features ensure we can still offer a broad choice to our customers, putting multiple variations on core products."
Flexing, customising, real time editing on menu content, menu availability and varying opening times will continue to be what is required for a confident and manageable ‘reopening’.
Follow the Rules
Back to the scientists - naturally, as things re-open, there will be an increase in cases which will need to be managed. Regarding a relaxing of restrictions across the UK Westminster Prof Whitty said: “As things are opening up, what all the modelling suggests is that at some point we will get a surge in virus... it might for example happen later in the summer if we open up gradually, or if there’s a seasonal effect it might happen over the next autumn or winter.”
Over the last year, it seemed very unfair that those across the F&B industry who had done all that was required of them in terms of compliance (spending a lot of money on making practical arrangements in whole host of areas) were still told to close the doors when other shops remained open.
Nevertheless, following the rules will still be key for confidence going forward. Confidence not just from the restaurants and caterers but from their customers. How can this be achieved?
Working with Restaurants and Caterers throughout the pandemic brought crucial software changes to Spoonfed; we worked hand in hand with businesses to make sure that their customers' concerns were addressed at every turn. For example, Garces Group in New York turned to Spoonfed to help them cater for individuals and small groups in a Covid-secure manner: "As Garces strategized against the unique challenges presented by the pandemic in 2020, our survival and even success has relied upon the embrace of guest-oriented solutions to every problem, at every turn. Chief amongst our tools has been the use of the Spoonfed platform to organize the pick-up and delivery of catering-style meal packages through the holidays. Spoonfed's intuitive guest experience and group ordering functions have allowed us to tailor our culinary products to the demands of the moment and this is why Garces chose to partner with Spoonfed." Joseph Quintela, General Manager.
The Group Ordering feature was just one solution which typified the need to adapt to a changed landscape in catering requirements.
Smaller catering teams, menu management issues, continuation of Covid secure service, changed workforce deployment, increased individualism in ordering and an expectation of a first rate user experience - all of these have become pressure points in the last 12 months. And each could be reasons for nervousness, depression and even defeatism.
But we began determined to be confident and we certainly can be. But it needs to be credible confidence, not just confident for the sake of it. And it can be, with the knowledge that reading the signs and onboarding the correct tools, restaurants and caterers can begin to thrive again, albeit possibly in different ways and different areas than before.
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