Article contributed by Mike Berman, COO, Day & Nite/All Service
More than a decade-and-a-half ago, the brilliant Thomas Friedman observed the world is actually “flat”. Even the great economic collapse a few short years after Friedman’s breakthrough book couldn’t derail an era of affordable abundance: everything anyone could ever want readily available at virtually any time where only inflation was scarce.
Innovations like lean manufacturing and just in time business practices not only propelled favorable conditions, through continuous improvement cycles these disciplines were perfected to the point the world seemed destined to become even smaller, flatter. Unfortunately, a global public health crisis put an unexpected and unwelcome exclamation point on the reshaped planet and its economy, not only grinding the wheels of affordable abundance progress to a screeching halt but actually setting all we had grown accustomed to, even taken for granted in reverse. If flat world dynamics spurred by innovation came easy, disrupted world circumstance solutions will require adding improvisation and meaningful collaboration to the mix.
Always expert at on-the-fly improvisation to begin with, restaurants are becoming improvisation virtuosos by now routinely substituting ingredients but the stubborn national truck driver shortage continues to limit flexibility; even if one can order spare ribs to replace baby back ribs on the menu there’s no guarantee the product will actually show up, in full or on time. Just as hospitality is paying higher wages, more generous benefits including handsome signing bonuses to fill essential roles, businesses competing for scarce qualified truckers are naturally doing the same.
Cascade this phenomenon throughout the entire chain back to raw materials and it becomes readily apparent independent improvisation alone will hardly get it done. Although flat and smaller might suggest simplicity, the nature and extent of these issues are anything but. Exactly one year ago this weekly column advised hospitality’s deeper collaboration with suppliers, even more urgently needed today and into 2022. Disruption, uncertainty, complexity define the operating landscape for the foreseeable future. More than ever before, the strength of any foodservice operation will be determined by the depth, quality and resources of its supplier network.
Affordable abundance collaboration attacks problems to be solved, this more complex environment requires something quite different. No single business on the planet has the ability or capacity to unilaterally escape the gridlocked on all sides world. Serious efforts to assure your business continuity require nothing less than a deep understanding of your suppliers downstream forecasts, operational plans, technological innovations, managerial adjustments and organizational structure to most efficiently guide you through these most challenging, complex conditions. Any supplier conducting anything resembling “business as usual”, lacking measurable performance tracking & reporting, significant investment in growth plans is one certain to increase the size of your already considerable risk.
In sum, rather than isolated or even a series of distinct problems to be solved, emphasis must be placed on comprehensive solutions with further realistic recognition that even the best equipped supplier will experience turbulence. Effective collaboration, then, is mutual commitment to concrete plans supported by realistic ability to get things right far more often than not, complemented by a proactive communication-escalation plan allowing you to improvise from ahead rather than last minute reaction to another calamity.
Of course the Day & Nite family of companies is part of the global economy and not immune from a disrupted world where President Biden needs to invoke emergency defense production policies so that something as essential as firefighting hoses could be manufactured during a time of record wildfires! Known throughout hospitality for its unrivalled resources, sophisticated scale of operations and highly collaborative business practices in its core commercial HVAC – Indoor Environmental Quality – Refrigeration – Cooking – Plumbing installation, maintenance and repair business, in partnership with Total Food Service Day & Nite/All Service/Popular Plumbing/Performance Air Mechanical is at the leading edge of solving the most pressing and complex problems by hosting the inaugural Hospitality Sustainability and Food Waste Summit on October 12th, tickets available here.