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The consultant’s view: John Reed on Covid-19

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FCSI Associate John Reed addresses why MAS consultants can be "a voice in the dark" for clients during the pandemic

Under the shadow of a pandemic, we have had to adjust to stay at home, as well as working in a virtual office and all the while being influenced by technology at a greater speed than expected. With that said, we have also been given more time as the process of commuting, networking, on-site meetings are all but come to a standstill.

I bet we have found time to look at our home surroundings in a new light. There are many us who now have an expanded ‘to-do’ list of activities in and around our homes.

We may be learning how to use more of the features of our phones, learn how to video conference or becoming homeschool teachers by navigating our children’s e-Learning portals. We are inquisitive by nature and when we have the time, we ‘tinker’.

The calm in the storm

As management advisory services (MAS) consultants we are faced with not really knowing the outcome of when or how our needed services will be sought out down the road. However, we have a skill that operators need right now.

We need to reach out to them and have them take a deep breath. We need to be the calm in the storm. By understanding their situations, we can give them our time and a voice in the dark. This is our one small part of the support these businesses will need.

Over the last decade there have many advances in equipment, point of sale (POS), customer management and operations technologies. There are many existing operators who jumped on these options. They were getting them onboarded but doing it so fast looking for immediate results and dollars to the bottom line.

However, the nature of the business of hospitality before pandemic had been driven by less staff, increased costs, more competition and the need to expand our revenue channels. For the most part, the learning of how to leverage the technology or understand the potential in their specific operation may have sped right by them.

For many operators who see the light at the end of the tunnel may be hard pressed to invest in renovations, other locations, and expanding their operations as they previously existed.

This is where a clear head comes into play.

Back to school

One of our major focuses is to step backwards and get our operators caught up on the use of what they already have and ‘tinker’ with it. This tinkering is going back to school on each of these technologies by re-onboarding as if you are starting from a blank piece of paper at school on a new subject.

By working with our vendor/manufacturing partners we can go back and re-introduce them the products they currently have in place. This is done by reprogramming initial settings, reviewing all of the training material, keeping what works, and identifying why they chose them in the first place.

By starting from scratch in a down time, it will get the operators in a position on how to best use the technologies to their potential. We have the time to rebuild the vision of what the operation will be. Everything is on the table.

The faster we can help drive the maximum dollars back to the bottom line the better. All businesses across the country are looking for help from the federal and local agencies and partners to survive and keep their staff employed and the operation alive. The needed support for the foodservice industry is to get them up and running as fast as possible with what they have because, before you know it, the reality of CARE act loan payments will be upon us.

We have always been a business of small margins, but the new norm will make it even more difficult if we can’t make those margins grow.

John Reed, Customized Culinary Solutions