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Innovation in times of crisis

As our world comes to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic, some industries are faring better than others. While grocery stores see a massive increase in sales and home entertainment sectors are booming, highly social industries like travel, hospitality, and food service are tanking. At the time of writing, the current estimate loss of sales for the foodservice industry alone was $25B, and an estimated loss of 3 million jobs. This has not stopped these industries from taking unprecedented steps to stem the tide.

The foodservice and hospitality industries are no stranger to rapidly evolving markets. The whim of the customer changing often and forcing major operational changes such as more sustainably sourced products, compostable utensils, and even alternative proteins. It should come as no surprise that these markets are the first to respond in some fairly novel ways. Many restaurants, small and large, have taken the first and arguably most obvious step of pivoting to a take-out-only operation. This poses unique challenges for locations that were not built with this in mind, often forcing customers to wait outside to conform with social distancing guidelines and occupancy limits. Some locations have taken this a step further by offering curbside pickup, further protecting customers by ensuring they never even have to leave their cars. The next logical step, of course, is to offer delivery.

The delivery revolution has been incoming for some time, and the pandemic has simply sped up that process. Services such as GrubHub, DoorDash, and more have been trying to work their way into the industry for years. Many smaller facilities have been resistant to the idea due to the strict terms offered by the delivery companies. Some have also cited a concern for reputation, as stories of incidents of food tampering have come to light more frequently over the last year. However, with the shrinking of the market, many facilities are clamoring for the opportunity to allow delivery orders. Some locations have even taken to repurposing wait staff as delivery drivers in an effort to keep as many staff on the payroll as possible.

Since sales are down across the industry, some higher-end restaurants are looking to preserve their higher price points and protect their brand image by taking the take-out/pick-up model to a slightly different level. Offering entire meals designed in a style similar to the dine-in experience allows these operators to maintain a higher level of control over the guest experience regardless of setting. These larger course-driven meals appeal to families looking to have the restaurant experience they were used to, or even those simply looking to break the monotony of home-cooked meals. Another way that larger restaurants are appealing to families is by providing hard to find kitchen and maintenance staples.

As this pandemic continues into the coming months, some items are becoming hard to find. Eggs, milk, flour, sponges, toilet paper and more are sold out in many locations. Some operators are closing the sales gap by leveraging their wholesale, bulk-buying power to bring their customers these critical supplies. becoming de facto supermarkets as well as food providers is certainly a big pivot for most locations, though not a difficult one. This also helps limit oversupply as some locations cut back on orders amid the slowdown, and sell off their excess to eager customers.

Regardless of how locations are innovating in this time of crisis, Accurate is proud to continue to offer leading service and support, and offer critical cleaning and general supplies to the industry. Contact us today to see how we might be able to help you.

Menu image from Bavel DTLA:

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