5 TAKEAWAYS | Navigating the New Normal – Sponsored by Parmalat Professional
With our cities and regional areas facing the need to restore confidence among visitors and local residents, the hospitality sector is at the forefront of breathing life back into these city centres and regional towns across the country.
Hear from some of the country’s leading restaurateurs and industry experts as they share their insights about the highs and lows of finding their ‘new normal’ and the challenges and opportunities this has presented them in their journey.
Hear what was discussed and more in our Hospitality Unites 2021 panel discussion. If you missed the session or would like a recap, check out our 5 takeaways below!
Thanks to our session sponsor Parmalat Professional.
1. What’s the New Normal?
As the world begins to navigate the concept of ‘the new normal’, what does this really mean for the hospitality industry when they have been hit multiple times, taking one step forward and two backwards at times.
Ben Lipschitz, Co-Founder and Managing Director of FoodByUs, talked about how the new normal is seeing relationships between venues and suppliers becoming more flexible. Flexible in timing, quantities and frequency, as circumstances change within hours. Ben went on to talk about how these flexible arrangements, while at times can be unsettling, is the way forward in order to ensure venues are running efficiently.
Both Francis Loughran, Managing Director of Future Food and Oliver Brown, Managing Director of The Big Easy Group commented on how the integration of tech into hospitality is here to stay. Contactless ordering through QR codes has been the centre of the pandemic and now plays a pivotal role in many venues across the country.
2. The New Customer
While COVID-19 has changed hospitality, it has also transformed the customer.
Spending more per head, longer seating times, a spike in top shelf spirits and cocktails and actively booking ahead of time have been some of the dramatic changes Oliver has seen across his South Australian venues. “People are also caring more about locally sourced products and ingredients”, he continued, “the community spirit has been overwhelming”.
Francis agreed stating that the pandemic has made people more aware of how much “food is the glue connecting us with one another” after so long apart.
3. What about the ‘Little Guy’?
During these uncertain times there has been an increase in supporting local, so is there going to be a return of the ‘little guy’ as customers search for more local options?
Francis commented on how the small operators are here to stay, and how some of the bigger players have been adopting practices commonly seen among ‘mum and dad run stores’ such as simple display units on the counters, chalk boards and keeping to the basics. These practices proved well during lockdown as big players were able to stay on their feet and provide that ‘local’ feeling, even if that wasn’t their regular approach pre-covid. “A coffee and croissant can really save a business”.
4. Staffing Struggles
As the topic of staffing struggles continues to be a theme among many operators, Oliver touched on how he has been focused on implementing his own training system to try and upskill and retain all of his current talent to avoid losing the staff with the IP. He suggested that for other business owners out there, that this should be a priority in the current market.
Francis agreed and stated that hospitality career pathways need to be better recognised.
Technology was also touched on as a helping hand when staff haven’t been readily accessible.
5. The Art of Saving Time
When posed with the question on their top tips on how to save time, the panel had varying responses.
Ben spoke highly of how implementing the right tech for your business can cut down your admin time to virtually nothing. He emphasised the importance of implementing tech systems that talk to one another, such as your POS (point of sale) system talking to your accounting system so that it sends automatic alerts and invoices to suppliers when popular items get low, as an example. “It’s a huge time saver and improves efficiencies”.
If implementing tech is not an option for you, Oliver’s biggest tip was to switch off anything that can provide you with an alert for a dedicated time period so that you can focus on the work in front of you. He also added that ensuring your business has a strong training system in place so that all processes are taught the same, streamlining operations when times are busy.
- Wendy Hargreaves, Founder – Bread + Butter Media (Moderator)
- Ben Lipschitz, Co-Founder and Managing Director – FoodByUs
- Francis Loughran, Managing Director – Future Food
- Oliver Brown, Managing Director – The Big Easy Group