Article contributed by Mike Berman, COO, Day & Nite/All Service
Exactly one year ago, I was visiting a major NY college. During a dinner with several members of the university’s faculty and administration, one of the professors pointed at a TV newscast reporting on the frightening surge in Covid-19 cases overrunning Italy. With deadly precision, the professor said “See that? In a couple of weeks, that will be us”.
One year later the state we most often associate with energy—Texas—is suffering through power outages leaving millions of residents and businesses without electricity and heat in the face of horrible winter weather. These apparently unrelated stories share a deep connection: anticipation as an essential way to effectively plan regardless of what may come, while failure to do so courts problems.
Regardless of where we live, we can all predict rush hour traffic with reasonable degrees of certainty because we know when more vehicles will be on the road during peak hours getting to or coming back from work. Indeed, there are any number of things in our daily routines that are so common we are all able to accurately project without giving it a second thought. However, if we have all learned one very difficult lesson this past year it has been the importance of taking time to plan for unforeseen events that can have severely negative impact on our lives and businesses. Arguably, demand for scenario planning to prevent being further victimized by events beyond our direct control is more urgent now than ever before.
With more states relaxing indoor dining restrictions, more arenas, stadiums and convention centers opening up, President Biden confidently stating all Americans who want Covid-19 vaccines can get them by the end of July is reason for optimism. With that college professor’s prescient words still ringing in my ears one year later, any failure to not keep a leery eye on Europe’s growing infection rates, emergence of new Covid-19 strains and overall bleak 2021 outlook would be an open invitation to greater uncertainty and risk—or worse—for your business.
A structured, ongoing anticipatory approach to business is the hospitality industry’s best safeguard against continued or even greater volatility. By instituting this more proactive, inclusive method you will be able to maintain a balanced sense of operational priorities even if instability is a new normal for the foreseeable future. No less important is anticipatory management embeds constructive change management as natural, rather than something to be feared within any organization.
To succeed, leaders must set the right tone, establish the right conditions, reinforce with a compelling message, but then empower work teams and subject matter experts to develop, design and execute. Recognizing pandemics and extreme weather are hardly the only catalysts, once in place everyone’s mandate must be to continually evaluate, refine and perfect all aspects of a business through a continuous improvement imperative. Starting, let alone efficiently completing the journey, means involving all stakeholders most especially key and qualified suppliers.
As a matter of anticipatory management, in recent weeks these columns have highlighted current and expected supply chain disruptions that can be as crippling to foodservice as a winter storm has been to Texas’s power grid. Among the many scenarios the Day & Nite family companies actively studies and plans for is how to protect customers in the event critical product and parts is not readily available. This goes far beyond keeping close tabs on physical inventories and movement of goods, the company also scrutinizes all available (supplier) financial data.
Considering the significant costs of carrying inventory, reduced orders over the past year, and further factoring in the probability many of the parts and product distributors customers are unable to meet credit terms, incorporating best practices and concepts from leading authorities like Deloitte, Day & Nite’s senior management is actively looking out for its customers best interests by adopting several ready-to-implement plans in the event something previously unimaginable becomes all-too-real. Clearly, this does far beyond anything the foodservice industry traditionally expects from a commercial HVAC, Refrigeration, Cooking and Plumbing installation, service and repair supplier, yet it is representative of what hospitality truly needs at this most critical time.
Clearly, the forces at work in the complex and fragile industry supply chain are greater than local traffic conditions than rush hour but we still do listen to traffic reports on our daily commutes or plug into Waze or other GPS devices for useful updates. Why wouldn’t anyone not do at least the same to get necessary supply chain information vital for business success? To learn more or obtain a copy of Day & Nite’s current state of hospitality supply chain report, email firstname.lastname@example.org