In a society that is constantly changing faster and faster, restaurants must have the tools to adapt their operation. With the aim of offering these tools and knowledge, the Master’s Degree in Gastronomy and Culinary Management of Gasma started in March 2021 a new edition.
Next, we reproduce Eva Ballarín’s article originally published in Excelencias Gourmet in which she talks about trends such as food as a service and sustainability.
If there is one thing we have learned in hospitality from previous crises is that the connection we have with the client makes us build the necessary measures and that we adapt to be able to continue operating, to continue to maintain the business, to be able to continue offering that service to our customers.
In a moment of uncertainty like today, with many changes already in the process of implementation and internalization by both establishments and society at large, there is an important axiom that we must take into account to facilitate recovery: We come from a product society, we have gone through a society of experiences and we lead to a society of values. These new values – with customer safety at the center – give us the key to our customer’s new consumption habits and priorities and guide us on what strategies to follow and how to implement them.
New consumption habits
How will the customer react? This is the big question now. The answer goes far beyond a reaction that impacts the sector: it goes towards the social trend of behavior. The key to the new habits – which we are gradually seeing and which will define the actions to be taken by not only the restaurant industry but society as a whole – is that they will be determined by the security factor.
A few months ago we were settled on the cusp of the Pyramid of Maslow. In that pyramid of Maslow, we go up steps as we cover needs, which tells us that the human being first thing he seeks is to have his basic survival needs covered (breathe, eat, sleep…). On the second rung we find the security needs. And it’s up to that rung that we’ve backed up because of the pandemic.
That’s why now the big driver is to re-guarantee security. And it is this perception of security on the part of society – and the customer – and the measures that are implemented, that will mark behaviours and consumption habits from now on.
Food as a service as the big trend
The pandemic has impacted and impacted the sector at all levels, as has society. However, not all consequences are negative, it also brings with it great opportunities, starting with understanding that restaurants are food production centers and can do much more than serve in the room. It’s the age of food as a service as the big business trend.
As a restaurant with a kitchen turned into a production center – and I’m not talking about making a physical change or an investment in it, but a change of mindset that allows you to reorganize your resources in the most optimal way possible – you can serve delivery, you can produce for take away, for grab & go, you can produce product lines closer to retail.
The trend brings with it hybridization for restaurants and we will see a re-editing of models that had more lines of business than the gastronomic sale in the room. Creativity when reinventing itself is essential and also exploring how to make the most of the kitchen to adapt to the philosophy of each business the unstoppable trend that is food as a service.
Technology and sustainability to get ahead
We know that safety is the great value that guides new customer habits and priorities, we have identified the great business trend at the moment and, in addition, we have two great tools that can be very important when it comes to executing those more structural changes that our industry requires.
One of them is technology. It is a fundamental tool – basic, I would say – to improve our processes, our management, even to incorporate the necessary security measures throughout the process, whether in production, in handling, in those physical spaces in which we serve our customers.
From now on we will see technology applied to be able to guarantee safety in the room and more security in food handling, without forgetting the fantastic tool that technology entails – well chosen and used – to manage our businesses at a time when the optimization of resources focused on revenue can be the fine line between survival and closure.
Sustainability, the key
And, on the other hand, we have a tool that is not new, that we had already designed and built, and that in my opinion at this time can be key. I am talking about these 17 sustainable development goals that UNESCO has developed and which somehow set us a guide to attitude, behaviour, business, relationship, in which all industries should start moving. It is time to enter into much more sustainable dynamics and, together with the support of technology, are the two main focuses to be able to work on the challenges that lie ahead and the changes that lie ahead.
Many companies, of all sizes and in all sectors, also ours, that before the pandemic had designed plans very aligned with that sustainability. Plans that contemplated the necessary guidelines to achieve zero waste, guidelines that tell us about offering the same opportunities for all, respect for biodiversity in different natural environments and respect for the environment, to local communities where we, tourism and hospitality professionals, do our business.
We already had protocols and a pretty clear idea that this is the way forward. Now we must continue to advance on this path and add technology to it, because technology allows us to go much faster, speed up processes, and achieve efficiency in actions that we could not have previously.
In short: we have the great opportunity to unite our two great tools, technology and sustainability, to move our business forward by also entering fairer, more circular economies that lead us to more sustainable and happy models of society.
Three actions to define the line of work
There are three main actions that restaurants – and any business can actually do now: analyzing business resources, positioning and pricing policy. The first thing is to analyze the resources of the business, because what we are going to do now is enter a new game and, to play it, we will need the best cards.
As a business owner you must identify what your best resources are now, because it is those that you must focus on and must bet on; is the ones you have to play with at this stage. And I am talking about tangible and intangible resources: from your brand reputation to the team, you have.
The next action is to analyze the positioning of the business. How people understand you, how your client sees you, where they have you positioned. And, from here, see where you want to move. Analyze the microentorn – this I have told you a lot lately, also in this space in Gourmet Excellence, because I consider it fundamental – of your business: the street in which it is located, the neighborhood and its dynamics, the district of the city.
And the third is to analyze the pricing policy and ask where they should move for the benefit of your business. My recommendation is that you focus on managing and working the profit margin, rather than focusing on lowering prices without a previous analysis that allows us to have a real strategy about it. And once we have analyzed our prices, we may have to lower them depending on the type of business model, the customer and the circumstances, but that doesn’t mean having to lower margins.
It is time to think of a change in the business that is perhaps more structural, that leads us to be able to communicate better with our client, to know him better, to polish our offer better, to work it more towards profitability, is what I think we should do now. And know very well what resources we have. It’s the main task to be done.
Two actions to reconnect with your customers
Together with the analysis of new consumption habits, the identification of the social and business trends of the moment and the actions to optimize the management, resources, and positioning of your business, we must work on reconnecting with the client. I’ll propose two. The first is to tell your client what extra measures you are taking and what extra value you will offer to choose your establishment and not another. Stop communicating the obvious on your social networks: that’s already counted by everyone and your client already knows it. To build trust in your property try to focus communication on that extra you’re doing. And if you have not done an extra, think about what sets you apart and communicate it.
The second is to think more than ever about the experience to make it M&R: memorable and very profitable. Make sure the experience is really good: it’s not worth serving anything or doing a bad service, because the customer has memory and will remember if they had a bad experience at home. Focus on loyalty and rewarding, which in this period is also possible. Discuss how you can promote rotation to the fullest without the experience suffering; think about how you are going to stimulate rotation and how to get the most out of average ticket per table and focus the card so you can operate faster.
Author: Eva Ballarín