Food Aficionado Smart Brief: Volume 9
Welcome back to another edition of The Food Aficionado Smart Brief! With 2022 literally right around the corner, we want to help you prepare for some challenges you may encounter. It's clear that the pandemic is still lingering and that causes its own load of problems, yet we want to be on the lookout for other potential issues as well (although, many may still stem from the same reasoning). Even with potential roadblocks, we know you are capable of handling what is ahead and we hope for another successful year to come!
Three Upcoming Challenges & How To Tackle Them
1. Labor Shortages When interviewed, nearly every restaurant owner or CEO has suggested that labor is their number one concern heading into 2022. One statistic that shows workers dropping since the pandemic started is the 2% decline in labor force participation. Although two percent may not seem like a lot, that small number accounts for millions of people. Additionally, retirements have skyrocketed and as of now, it doesn't appear that those 55 and older are returning to the workforce. Many potential retirees have benefitted over the past few years from positive returns on investments and were willing to retire early once the pandemic hit. Moreover, workers seem fed up with corporations making billions through the toughest times for many people. Even though we are not writing to ginormous corporations, this appears to have trickled down into everyday restaurants as well. Workers feel that they deserve more for what they do, and with so many jobs opening, they have the leverage to pick what suits them best. Now, what can you do to combat this? If possible, adding new technology to streamline processes could help a lot, but it will increase initial investment. It may not seem like it, but improving the recruiting and training process will also go a long way when hiring and retaining employees. Treat those working for you with respect, and if you may not be able to offer them a raise, be honest with your employees. Transparency means a ton, and when workers see that, they will stick around and help your restaurant survive. Finally, another solution is acclimating customers to online ordering. Ordering ahead of time will, in turn, limit huge rushes and allow kitchens to manage the flow of orders easier. Hopefully, this results in less pressure for your entire staff. You may be able to offer other benefits, a positive work environment, or opportunities that will encourage employees to want to work.
Offer new, fun, helpful opportunities for employees
Acclimate customers to online ordering or calling ahead
Look at upcoming technology to help employees work seamlessly
2. Supply Chain Disruptions Supply chain problems have been talked about for a while, but now we are seeing them come to fruition. Whether it was your holiday gifts or the ingredients you need to run your business, everything has seen delays or massive price increases. Chefs from around thirty locations agreed that prices have increased on nearly all of their goods by around 20%. The supply chain is now plaguing restaurants, as things are either impossible to find, are back ordered months, or simply too expensive. It may be much more difficult to solve this problem, considering it is very little in our control. However, we have a few tips that may help manage the situation:
Don't be afraid to ask other distributors about pricing/inventory
Look into changing menu items or increasing the price point
Offer transparency to customers when you run out of something
3. Rising Customer Expectations Another potential challenge that truly isn't in our control is the rising customer expectations. With technology now at the forefront of most industries, customers want quick, easy, and convenient at all times. Whether it is realized or not, having all the information in the world at our fingertips has made everyone feel that they need anything and everything at the snap of their fingers. Instant gratification now influences every industry, so offering seamless and more options for ordering will be major in the coming months. In addition, consumers want an in-house experience more than ever. If they do leave their house for food, it should be more than just a “dark-kitchen." Here are some best practices for rising customer expectations: https://www.smartkarrot.com/resources/blog/customer-expectations/
Expand online presence and ordering options
Attempt to offer more for the unpredictable amount of dine-in customers
To Summarize: Many massive restaurant chains are beginning to implement new technologies to help combat a lot of the issues ahead. However, it is clear that not everyone will be able to invest so much back into their business. Keep in mind that it is still all about the customers, and when things aren't going as planned on the back-end, it is ultra important to be transparent. Listen to your customers AND employees, they are the heart and soul of your business. As we look forward to the new year, there may be problems, but overall you should be excited for more opportunities and success ahead!