How coronavirus will impact the catering industry for the next few years
Whilst we are all still learning about COVID-19, it seems increasingly likely that the virus that shocked the world in 2020 will continue to be an issue in 2021 and beyond. By this time next year, we might have a vaccine and the virus might be under control, but with the spread across the globe it is likely that it will still be a big part of our life in the short to medium term.
For catering companies, the longevity of the virus will impact on their the businesses in many ways, for example; providing a safe environment for their staff, encouraging customers back into their establishments or managing the supply chain issues that will inevitably follow.
As catering and hospitality professionals, we understand the importance of good health and safety practices, but the impact of COVID-19 and the way in which it spreads requires additional precautions. We know, for example, that the virus can survive on metal surfaces including cutlery, kitchen utensils and cooking equipment for up to 72 hours. Because a 72-hour period can cover multiple day shifts then full cleaning of equipment is vital at the start and end of shifts, as well as throughout the day.
Interfacing with customers is another major challenge. Our business is about offering customers a great hospitality experience, but social distancing and the wearing of face masks will tarnish the connections we make with our customer and services such as a buffet are simply not possible.
The impacts, and what you can do
As well as being a risk to human lives, not taking the right precautions can impact staffing levels, brand reputation and overall credibility of the business. When looking to introduce new processes to ensure the safety of customers and employees you should include the following:
- Personal-use kitchen equipment (no sharing)
- Revised cleaning schedules
- A documented process for handling staff with symptoms and new procedures for dealing with tracking and tracing of confirmed cases for customers and staff
- Social distancing measures including one-way movement of staff
- Revised processes for the logistics and receiving of goods
- Increased packaging
- Staff training to ensure processes are followed
- New roles, focused on areas such as guiding and protecting customers when interacting with them
The message you send out is important
Customers are rightly concerned about the safety of anything they touch or consume and if there is any doubt at all about their safety, they are likely to not do business with you. That’s why it’s important to focus your message on the actions you are taking to ensure their well being.
You could introduce a page on your website and a flyer, dedicated to explaining how you are taking the safety of customers seriously. Explaining how you have taken extra measures to combat the virus is a great way to reassure customers, so long as it’s backed by real action! Telling them you have taken measures when you haven’t, is not just unethical but a great way to lose customers and go out of business.
What actions are you taking?
Hospitality Business Survival Guide
The first 3 months of the pandemic has been a chaotic period as the world tries to understand how to cope with the virus, and how businesses can adapt. If you haven’t yet put together a written plan for adapting to COVID-19 over the next 12 months, then now is the time to do it.
The plan should consider all aspects from introducing new processes and staff training, through to the marketing and messaging you communicate to your target audience.
Remember, failing to plan is a plan to fail!
Contact our Strategic Reviews Consultants here at Ramsay Todd to help you further.