Just as most of the world starts to emerge from the pandemic and foodservice sales begin to recover – another crisis comes along to challenge the industry and well…all of us! Inflation has soared in most parts of the world; raw materials, meat, chicken, cooking oil, packaging etc as well as wholesale energy prices have rocketed in recent months. Steady increases have been also been experienced over the last couple of years following the peak of the pandemic when shipping costs and supply chain bottle-necks pushed up the prices of many products and services. Labor shortages have significantly contributed to cost increases in many industries as businesses pay more to attract and retain staff. According to Datassential the average US quick-service operation has recorded a 7% reduction in their margin since their pre-COVID levels.
Consumers are also taking a hit as industries pass on many cost increases that cannot be absorbed. Governments in some major economies are increasing interest rates in an effort to curb inflation, pushing up debt repayments and reducing household budgets for many.
So what do increasing costs, a potentially reduced customer base and staff shortages mean for foodservice and hospitality industries?
Well, there’s no doubt that challenges lay ahead but a focus on customers, value, costs and staff will help tune businesses and even position it for growth.
Retaining existing customers should be essential business sense for the foodservice industry but in too many instances such customers are taken for granted. When folks are tightening the purse strings, operations providing a sub-standard customer experience will only result in lost business. It should always be easier to retain existing customers than attracting new ones. So make sure that staff are friendly with customers and not ‘casual’. Ensure that your facilities are clean and functioning – the small details matter, whether it’s the table that diners sit at or the food being served to the last customers of the day. Feeling welcome and comfortable is key for any diner and receiving good value for their money is what will keep customers returning.
Providing good value doesn’t necessarily mean cheap; but having deals, discounts and offers can help retain and attract new customers. Loyalty programs can help bring customers back for say ‘a free coffee with any sandwich’ or accrued discounts off future orders. Streamlining menus to focus on customer favourites, higher margin items and increasing average customer spend can also help avoid wastage or cash being unnecessarily invested in slow moving stock.
As we have pointed out previously, having a loyal and professional workforce is imperative as they are your brand’s representatives. With current labor shortages, retaining your staff could be a struggle if you are not valuing them. In order to provide a great service, your staff need to be able to focus on ‘what they do best’. Fixing wobbly tables before and during service for example is a wasted (and demoralizing) part of their job when they should be focussing on servicing customers and taking orders. Unnecessary daily jobs like this reduce productivity and waste vital time at the point when you need it most. Extrapolate such operational issues across a multi-unit operation and the productivity costs are huge.
However, it’s not just productivity that takes a hit – our YouGov survey found that 86% agreed that sitting at a wobbly table was irritating/distracting. and 56% of Americans would reconsider returning to an establishment where their meal was spoilt by a wobbly table. Can your business afford this potential loss of custom and brand damage?
FLAT products should be a key consideration for all foodservice and hospitality businesses. Our range of self-stabilizing table bases automatically stabilize on uneven surfaces meaning there’s no setup time wasted by staff. Save even more time by easily aligning adjoining tables and provide a smooth dining surface for groups. Customers are treated to stable and aligned dining experiences every time, creating a great customer experience and providing consistency across a dining room, indoor and outdoor areas or multi-unit operations. Staff become more productive and complaints about wobbly tables are eliminated – no more comp’d meals or drinks for spillages are needed and those unsightly napkins and sugar packets used to prop up tables are gone.
For fixing your existing (wobbly) tables – try FLAT Equalizers. Equalizers replace a table’s existing screw-in feet. They are an economical and easy-to-install solution for most table bases.
FLAT products offer a tangible ROI to all businesses – see our online calculator to see how much wobbly tables could be costing your business here.