PPP and PPE: Beware the Short Distance In-Between

PPP PPE restaurant-businessman wearing mask
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Article contributed by Mike Berman, COO, Day & Nite/All Service, with Tia Tassava

As if the hospitality industry didn’t already suffer from too many middlemen to begin with, along comes the Payroll Protection Program.

The program essentially forced our banks and our businesses into being conduits between the federal government and employees. PPP surely is well-intentioned, but like many ill-conceived, not properly thought out, and with entirely rushed tactics without any strategy, it has been anything but helpful for anyone in hospitality. It’s hard to disagree with a growing number contending PPP has been harmful.

To solve a problem, one must first understand it. The government’s lack of understanding regarding the most fundamental elements about hospitality–one of the nation’s biggest employers, sources of wealth and unquestionably the single most illuminating reflection of the country’s melting pot values–is all the evidence we ever need politicians and their staffs are rather clueless. It’s not just that hospitality has been in shut down mode for three months, it’s what the industry missed over these historically critical three months: St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, showers (including my daughter’s shower and wedding now pushed back to 2021…hopefully), Mother’s Day, June brides, graduations heading the list. From tens of thousands of pounds of wasted corned beef purchased for a St Paddy’s that never came precisely three months ago yet seems like ancient history, to now figuring out what the much-anticipated phase 2 will represent. Will phase 2 bring us the end of this dark chapter or just the beginning of the next financial and operational obstacle course, few outside our field genuinely understand.

Costs of doing business were already on the rise, and even with favorable interest rates, too many independent restaurants already had considerable amounts of debt on the books. Food prices continue to move in the wrong direction, and certainly, nobody budgeted for having to purchase PPE in the quantities everyone needs just to come partially back. Staff may be anxious to return to work, but how does one bring full-time staff entirely back to operate at 50% capacity when those same employees can earn more money sitting on the bench rather than returning to work up until at least July 31st? Nothing about hospitality’s traditional model works, even in the phase 2 period that is supposed to rekindle optimism. Inventing new models is much easier said than done in any field, but doing so is even more improbable with everyone in the industry writing a “learn as you go guide” on the daily fly.

Engagious’s Back to Normal Barometer most recent wave of in-depth research reports a 6% decline in consumer confidence, with social justice issues now becoming more prominent than even health or economic concerns. Shockingly, areas of the country already open for business report greater pessimism (63%). Two major forces deserve our particular attention, (1) fears of further loss of control over anything in one’s life, and (2) increased Deprivation Index; in other words, “I’ve learned to live without…”. Taken together, there is great risk employees will not be any more motivated to return to the workplace as a growing percentage of customers will be about returning to their favorite restaurant, bar, sporting event, resort. Of course, this recap of all the inexorable challenges each of you faces every day only scratch the surface of what you already know. Our first crisis management column appeared on April 6th. Total Food Service asked us to produce a weekly column so that the hospitality industry didn’t need to entirely write that learn as you go guide on the fly. Just as we have done over the past 2 1/2 months, the remainder of this week’s column will do just that.

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Just as the well-intentioned Payroll Protection Program has proven to be ineffective and counterproductive, early-stage Personal Protective Equipment emphasis will ultimately have the same effect on your business. At the core, hospitality’s economies of scale simply do not work with manual measures and repetitive low/no value yet highly necessary steps. Current PPE-heavy practices are like watching accountants using pen and paper to do long division rather than calculators to oversee and manage a company’s finances. Instead of recognizing that engineered technology and sophisticated services represent the wisest investment to remove barriers and risks to safeguard environmental, employee, guest, and food safety, too many incorrectly fear its cost and instead spend more money on partially effective tactics.

Just as Day & Nite/All Service/Popular Plumbing was tabbed by this publication for crisis management expertise, so you don’t have to self-create that “learn as you go guide” every day, Day & Nite Performance Solutions comprehensive portfolio has been designed to most cost-effectively and comprehensively deliver needed safety, certainty, the surety that will allow you to most rapidly build on your actual business model without further detour, delay or (future) regret.

  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • Inline Plastics
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • RATIONAL USA
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • Easy Ice
  • Epiq Global Payment Card Settlement
  • McKee Foodservice Sunbelt Bakery
  • Imperial Dade
  • Atosa USA
  • Day & Nite
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • RAK Porcelain