In a recent article, I wrote entitled ‘The Craft of Lodging’, I said for hotel operators, the scale is tipped more on the side of business acumen than total guest experience in the United States. However, in food & beverage for most independent restaurants and bars, the opposite is more prevalent, whereas product and passion rule before being a good steward of the business.
When business is good and revenues are high, it often hides our sins and we can get by with less than efficient systems and processes to help us optimize our margins.
The matter becomes more critical in times of market downturns. As we know, Restaurants are vulnerable to significant traffic declines currently. As revenues go down often the difference in survival is smarter spending, fine-tuning and obsessive control of our costs without diminishing the product and service that made us successful in the first place
In a recent survey conducted by Datassential, entitled COVID19 and the impact of eating the research, fielded with 1,000 US consumers found that the Corona Virus has led to nearly 60% of consumers being concerned about eating out, with one-in-five “definitely” avoiding doing so.
These are significant figures that suggest a considerable reduction in restaurant traffic. To compete you’ll need to reduce the fears of the consumers and drive business to your restaurant vs. your competitors. It’s important to remember this is where consumers’ heads are at and provide honest reassurances that their safety is top of mind.
According to the CDC, ‘Eating Establishments’ are in the highest-risk category. As we move to reopen the country from this pandemic, we will all have no option but to rethink the way we do things. The smart business will take drastic measures on how they conduct business to mitigate the risks of the health and safety of guests, while optimizing revenue and profit. Like it or not, there will undoubtedly be less interaction between human beings. Technology will play a very important role in this.
The new food & beverage technology normal
While technology has always been important to us in Food and Beverage, it will now be a game-changer in the future. In the past, it had always been a tool that was nice to have, but customers were often slow to embrace some of the innovative technology that we tried to implement. As we keep hearing, the ‘world has changed’ and consumers’ expectations have already become more in tune with our vision of technology in the last couple of months and even started to demand it.
Consumer behavior will be the biggest driver. If your current platforms and technology don’t match the rapid shift in demand to meals eaten at home, delivery, take away and ease of purchase at every level you risk losing customers.
F&B Technology is moving at a rapid pace as businesses have been upping their digital game in recent years. Given COVID19 and what has happened, it will accelerate even more for those that survive and transition back to business.
Technology as relates to Food & Beverage is specialized. In a very crowded and competitive marketplace, It can be confusing and overwhelming to know what technology platforms work best and are proven and cost-effective based on your specific situation.
Smart businesses should seek expert advice helping them solve these technology challenges and navigate the waters as we spend smarter and transition from customer-facing ‘human’ interactive processes and procedures to more automated contact less ones.