Article contributed by Mike Berman, COO, Day & Nite/All Service, with Tia Tassava
This weekly column has been designed to help you manage through COVID-19 in real-time. The initial segments focused on pure crisis management, with the most recent two weeks focusing on business planning.
In line with all government and market indicators, we now turn our fullest attention to the practical and necessary back to business matters. The highly respected, carefully monitored, Engagious Back to Normal Barometer offers an abundance of information and insights that every professional in hospitality needs to track. Most notably, only 40% of survey respondents said they would confidently return to public spaces, even after a proven coronavirus vaccine.
Think about that. Yet, no less important is the majority of survey respondents said that two forms of trusted validation would be sufficient for returning to life as we previously knew it. As a vaccine is certainly not on the immediate horizon, the remainder of this week’s column will focus on bare minimum steps the industry must take. After all, allowing people to get back out is far more challenging than having them come back into an establishment.
Manage and Set the Pace
Even informed projections cannot accurately predict how vibrant or weak recovery will be. Nor does anyone know what the ramp will look like if left unattended. Consequently, hospitality professionals must set the pace by setting the tone, mainly a function of overcoming fear. Proactively sterilizing and sanitizing environments with a particular emphasis on high-impact measures that employees and guests cannot necessarily see will determine the rate of recovery.
Everyone can see masks and gloves; items now accepted as common standards will not inspire greater confidence. Going deep, highlighting things that have been done, the public wouldn’t ordinarily see or even know about the differentiator. Highlighting means to post checklists, safety measures, and ongoing protocols publicly. Certifications from authoritative sources are assumed to have the highest positive affect, more than ratings from the Board of Health, far more. These exist. If you’d like to learn more, ask us.
As slowly as these past two months have played out, getting back to business will be the exact dynamic opposite. Emphasized in each of our first four crisis management columns, it all starts with a strategy. As a living strategy, you are positioned to address fast-moving situations and changes in real-time. Just as Point of Sale (POS) has become a vital tool for managing your business in real-time, every facet of your company must adopt POS-like qualities to assure maximum flexibility.
As you are sure to be 100% focused on your business, you cannot necessarily be nimble if you are relying on just what you see and know. Maximum flexibility will come from leaning on your suppliers who have more macro views and direct exposure. For instance, Day & Nite‘s self-performing eastern seaboard operation is comprised of several thousand active customers cutting across every industry sector. There isn’t an environment our team hasn’t seen or a story we haven’t heard. Consolidated industrywide knowledge will prove to be an invaluable resource for ensuring operational flexibility.
Now is the time to grow eyes on the back of your head and ears on your kneecaps. While this may be physically impossible, it’s operationally an imperative. Operators must be particularly sensitive to the extremes. They must be aware of trends yet completely diligent about digging out root causes and storylines. While being careful not to overreact prematurely, be prudent to consider everything. Cull the meaningful from extraneous. Then leverage the flexibility of the organization to keep (preferably accelerate) the pace that is set for the business. Alert management is guided by “what if?”. Here is a what-if question: what if you re-opened and could confidently advertise your establishment was safer than a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s cleanroom? What if you had validation?
Fundamentals Will Always Rule
Of course, everything has changed and will change, but let’s not go to extremes by ditching proven business fundamentals. Doubling down on fundamentals is and will forever be essential for surviving the most difficult times. Just like professional athletes need the preseason to get back into playing shape before the games get real, putting your team and key suppliers through the same “preseason workouts” prior to opening day is an absolute must.
In last week’s column, we covered the dangers of unrealistic expectations. Guests returning to establishments after weeks of being shut inside. They will be expecting to be even more delighted than before. It will be awkward to be served by staff members who look more like operating room nurses and physicians than wait staff and bartenders. Fear factors will diminish while delight factors increase by performing as the most well-oiled machine on the planet; coordinated effort between staff down to and with the supply chain.
Reinvention Is The X-factor
Permanent changes always follow temporary conditions. Proper commitment to fundamentals on top of flexible operation, guided by alert management, setting and managing to its own pace will allow for business transformation. As noted in our first column, Day & Nite’s coronavirus protocols were in place by January. Along the way, we’ve certainly modified aspects, but the modifications have only been minor. Free from having to focus primary attention on the immediate, at every level, the company has intensively dedicated all efforts to business transformation.
The particular emphasis will be developing an entirely new portfolio of services around: environmental, workplace, employee, patron, infrastructure, and food safety. Radical equipment maintenance redesign should be built around energy consumption and lowering total energy costs. This is far beyond traditional equipment maintenance, but it is another major initiative timed to serve the hospitality industry.
Successfully getting back to business indeed starts with a recovery roadmap. But thriving will require nothing less than a layered, integrated, creative approach. So much of your recovery success will depend on overcoming fears. However, it will also depend on not being captive to inertia. This week’s column provides the basics. Next week we will put more on these back to business bones.