Learnings from the pandemic for the F&B Industry

Teja Chekuri, Managing Partner, Ironhill India, gives some handy tips on staying safe and sane during the pandemic.
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As hard as it is to believe, it's been a little more than a year since the world came to a sudden halt. A lot has unfolded in the past year, a lot has crumbled, and at the moment, the light at the end of the tunnel is dull. The impact that pandemic had on life and business is too big to fit in numbers or words. Every industry was a victim and the F&B industry, too, adds a major chunk to the statistics.

Industries and entrepreneurs are resorting to new experimental strategies to keep up with the ever-changing dynamics of the market. There has been a shift in the fabric of the F&B industry and pretty much every strategy is a hail Mary, now.

Even though the blow to businesses has been severe, there are some key takeaways and learnings; in broad strokes, it's a parable to be more agile, innovative, and compassionate.

Safety is the new guarantee

Consumers are now more conscious than ever about cleanliness, hygiene, and safety. While taste and experience are still primary, hygiene too is there. Rightly so. It is advised to always keep good hygiene at the forefront.

Adhere to the WHO Covid19 safety and protocols, and communicate the same to customers to win their trust. Adapting to digital menus and screenings will make customer experience more contactless, seamless, and convenient for all the parties.

Your crew matters

Employees are the greatest asset of any organisation. It goes without saying that it is the responsibility of the company to make sure employees are active, mentally, emotionally and physically.

Given the current times, HR departments should ensure the wellbeing of all employees by regularly updating and educating them via seminars, tips, and practices to steer clear of health illnesses. Getting the employees vaccinated can also be an organisation’s way of prioritising employees.

Value-added communication

In grim times like these, people resort to social media for help. Revamp your communications on social media to suit the current times. You could even pause product and brand communications to give out more information on Covid and other protocols that will come in handy for your followers.

Technology is everything

In pre-pandemic days, technology was taking its sweet time to penetrate spaces other than the IT sector. However, now, every industry is getting innovative and experimenting with new tech. Invest in gadgets and tech that minimises physical labour cost and maximises efficiency, service standards and safety.

Picking up an extra skill

Companies and their workforces have taken a major blow since the onset of the pandemic. The biggest takeaway for working individuals from the pandemic is to upskill and multiskill. Companies are looking for people who can handle different tasks and portfolios at the same time.

Business owners should help their employees brush their skills and pick up a different one too if need be. Companies should recognise talent and constantly appreciate their team, in a bid to keep their morale high.

Keep a step ahead at all times

Cost-saving is a major factor in all industries, but in F&B, it's probably the biggest. The ever-changing market calls for plans and strategies that do not affect numbers. Businesses have started having "fallback" plans and backups to minimise the risk, in case unprecedented times like these repeat. It’s better to be well prepared both emotionally and financially to face unforeseen situations.

As a business owner, I can attest that entrepreneurs and topliners have a responsibility to keep the ship afloat. Times like these also humble people and communities, bringing a sense of togetherness. It's a good reminder that we are all in this together, and probably will be, until we reach the end of the tunnel.

While this remains a case study on F&B industry, I have had some personal reflections born out of the grimness of 2020.

Pick up a hobby

It's important to keep your brain running and the best way to charge it is with conversations and creative activities. Pick up a book, a recipe or a game, and stick to it.

Share love

People from F&B industry should know what it feels like to miss a meal. The current dreaded times have left a lot of people hungry and ill. Restaurants can use their kitchen to prepare warm healthy hygienic meals for the poor and destitute whose lives have been brutally impacted by the Covid wave. F&B industry can lead the way of feeding the hungry, and request other businesses or individuals to come together to make sure no person is left hungry.

Personal health

Keep your health in check. Be it mental health or physical health, it is important to engage in some activity that constantly stimulates your mind and body. It's times like these that act as reminders to keep our health and wealth in line.

Family comes first

Work-life balance should not be a myth. The importance of caring, listening, and respecting family and friends is now more evident than ever.

We are going through a global catastrophe and who stuck by us all the while? Family! 

Edited by Anju Narayanan

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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