Last week, I spoke about the importance of empathy in our approach to getting ‘back to business’. In this article, I’ll share my thoughts about the physical and technological changes I believe will be crucial to overcoming the challenges presented by Covid-19.
I’ve been asked the question many times over the past few weeks: “what will the ‘new normal’ look like.” Without sounding too pedantic, I’m not sure that’s the question we should be asking.
We should always be seeking ways to adapt and advance, regardless of the circumstance. I spoke a little on this during the recent Mindset Mentor Podcast with Angela Cox, which you can check out here.
Instead of trying to find a normal, a better question might be: “What comes next?”
Keeping this in mind helps us to maintain a constant state of observation and improvement and I believe that it’s a question that we should reflect upon frequently.
So… What comes next?
I’ll start with the obvious challenge of maintaining social distancing measures within the workplace. There’re several tools I’m confident will diffuse the risk, with minimal impact to the customer experience…
We recently developed ‘Time to eat,’ an application that allows workers to book their table slot in advance. This allows us to effectively manage a steady flow of people through the restaurant, reducing the risk of overcrowding and queuing. Workers can also be confident that they won’t be caught in the daily ‘lunch rush’.
Markers denoting a safe social distance on the floor and tables should be used, but let’s make them attractive or playful. Spending a few extra cents to maintain the welcoming aesthetic of the restaurant shouldn’t be overlooked.
Dedicated click & collect points will reduce the reliance on having to journey to the restaurant, with pre-order applications taking centre stage in this process. I’ve seen a big change in consumer attitudes towards pre-ordering, no doubt accelerated by the high-street’s approach to this crisis.
The restaurant and dining areas will need re-calibrating to ensure we avoid pinch points, but also to maintain the communal aspect of the workplace restaurant. Round tables and ‘cross’ table layouts will make it easier to converse with fellow colleagues whilst maintaining a safe distance – long rectangular layouts will begin to feel anti-social.
Breakout dining areas within larger offices will extend the reach of the restaurant, and given the lower average daily occupancy expected across most buildings, it’s something our clients are keen to explore.
Packaged meals – inspired by bento boxes – will limit the time needed to serve and shop, adding greater convenience to the collection process.
CPU’s and Cloud Kitchens
Another viable solution to many businesses seeking to maintain or introduce the benefits of a food service, is to embrace a ‘Cloud Kitchen’ model. This involves all food production taking place off-site, with pre-determined deliveries made to dedicated collection points.
We know all too well the cost pressures the crisis has placed on businesses. In most instances, this solution does a great job of bridging the gap between maintaining a fully catered restaurant and removing services entirely.
I’ve championed this model in our industry for a while now and have witnessed its success, particularly in the last 8 months where we have seen the number of new contracts double. Our CPU business proudly caters to some of Ireland’s leading businesses first hand. That’s why we have invested in the expansion our of CPU service. I won’t give away any spoilers just yet, as my marketing team would hold me to task!
Agile working is nothing new within the foodservice industry. All this crisis has done is expedited our journey towards it.
As people begin to re-enter the workplace, we’ve got to be mindful that a 5 day, 9-5 can no longer be assumed, nor can a fixed place of work. In essence: it’s time to broaden our service offer.
With long established supply chain and logistics networks already in place, what’s to stop us from adopting similar models to companies such as Deliveroo, Gourmet Fuel and others? We’ve no shortage of culinary talent, nor production capability – should this be the time to branch out beyond the confines of the restaurant? Home delivery meals, recipe kits and other CPU reliant solutions are all exciting options to consider.
If you can’t bring people to the food, bring food to people.
Underpinning everything has to be technology that’s intuitive and accessible.
Whether it’s a web portal or native application on our customer’s device, the experience has to rival and even exceed that of any competitor, high street included.
Connecting the dots between click and collect, table booking, home delivery, loyalty rewards and customer feedback within a single platform could be the gamechanger this industry needs moving forwards. How about integrating a social aspect too? I’m sure you’ve spent hours on Skype, House Party and other video apps over the past 8 weeks, let’s not forget the emotive power of dining socially.
We’ve developed similar platforms in the past, but one that truly integrates seamlessly within our customer’s day to day life is our ultimate tech goal.
Coming Up… Save the date
On the 27th May at 10am, I’ll be discussing these points and more with a specially curated panel of business leaders in our first: “Reimagination: Future of Foodservice and Facilities Management” Webinar.
You can register here to secure your space.
Finally, Part 3 of my ‘back to business’ series will go out on the 2nd June – where I’ll be going off-script and answering your questions, whatever they might be. Which leads nicely into my first ever LinkedIn favour to ask!
Do you have any question about the industry, the potential state of affairs post lockdown, ‘what’s next,’ in fact, make that anything really, I want to know.
I’ll collect your Q’s and do my best to answer them all in Part 3. You can send questions directly to me Ask_Chris@compass-group.ie or in the comments below.
“Effectively, change is almost impossible without industry-wide collaboration, cooperation, and consensus.” – Simon Mainwaring
Let’s drive the type of conversation that brings about change.
Thanks for reading, let me know what you think and don’t forget to send me your questions!
Stay safe, Chris