Flexing to Alleviate the Pain Points where Possible

by Martin Boyd

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There was a mixture of anger and angst in the Hospitality Sector this week as the UK Chancellor failed to offer the tax relief many were hoping for: Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, tweeted: “He’s ignored the industry…Reckless, harmful and short-sighted.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, added: “This is a real setback for thousands of UK hospitality businesses still suffering the devastating effects of Covid, and facing a tidal wave of rising costs.”

None of this has helped the return of the confident mood we were all looking for. Ronan Harte, chief executive of BaxterStorey, also commented: “we have started to see promises of a fast recovery…with more and more customers returning to the office on a more frequent basis. However, failure to do more to support hospitality bosses may impact this upwards trajectory and leave the industry struggling to invest and forward plan.”

As much of a struggle as it may be, the investment and forward planning Harte refers to will be - must be! - the key element for many businesses. It’s not just about ‘muddling through for the next couple of months’, it’s about recognising there have been permanent changes which food service operators need to embrace now.

The workforce is going to be flexible.

Masks, testing and restrictions may be going, but the hybrid working practice is here to stay. This will require investment in tech solutions developed in order to allow the catering teams to be every bit as flexible as their customers. Eg. comprehensive control over online ordering from individual menus which can have bespoke lead in times or (non)availability for certain days.

Catering teams will be flexible too - smaller teams on quieter days will be the norm. Set reasonable expectations with management of orders per time slot, and menus which offer drop off or pick up only. Spoonfed has enhanced the control in this area recognising that servicing workplaces means being ready to be nimble.

Further development introduced has been in recognition of the inability of businesses to justify having an onsite or full kitchen team in head offices or coworking spaces. We have a range of business use cases making it possible for caterers to offer tailored, branded hospitality to a number of B&I locations from CPUs.

Is this worth investing in? Certainly! A recent Arena ‘round table’ discussion with business leaders from the Hospitality Sector acknowledged that…Now that offices are reopening…consumers are looking for innovative choices and are happy to indulge more after being confined to their own kitchens for so long….where employees may be in the office one/two days a week for longer hours at a time, requiring them to have three meals out of home. And there’s certainly a rise in spending, with people wanting to be more carefree now that lockdown is over.

‘A rise in spending!’ - Great news, but where will it be spent? With those whose online ‘doors are open’ and availability is clear.

Further Flexing..

Fittingly, Spoonfed is now the UK supplier for 365 Retail Markets. Software for the flexible workplace now joined by Hardware for the flexible workplace. Through our combination of Micro Market, Vending, and Dining solutions, we offer the best-in-class point-of-service platform for any workplace. For instance, 365’s ReadyTouch: this solution can ‘flex’ between cashier and self-service mode. In cashier mode, a cash drawer can be connected to the POS station and the cashier can accept cash as a tender and make change. The user interface adjusts for quick data entry in cashier mode vs a more intuitive, consumer-centric menu in self-service mode.

The sector is rebuilding, there is no doubt about that. But it’s not going backwards. Spoonfed are investing and moving forward - Come with us!

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