What do I need to know about the current supply chain?
We are all aware of the impact COVID-19 has had on the food supply chain. You don't have to be an industry professional to notice the intermittent outages of random foods and at the local grocery store. The experience has taught us all just how interwoven our food supply chain really is. So what can we do about it?
Now is the time to evolve a simpler, more flexible menu where every ingredient has a purpose. We can all be emotionally invested in our menus, but now is the time to explore your creativity. For example, a simple step might be finding other uses for ingredients that currently exist only as garnishes. Making sure that anything you use, is used in some other way in service of the menu. Thoughtfully trim things down and explore alternatives. Remember, a system with fewer moving parts is less likely to break.
Ok, so you've come up with some ideas for your lean, mean new menu, now what? Well, if you've never considered multiple sourcing before, you should probably start. Most distributors are going to be facing shortages, you can prepare yourself for this by developing relationships with smaller suppliers who have multiple sources of product. Restaurants who want to ensure they have everything they need will be best served by having back-up channels they can rely on. Particularly in the case of specialty products.
Of course, communication is always king. Reach out to your suppliers for assistance in driving both front-of-the-house and back of the house efficiencies. This can take many forms, for example, US foods has a free "reopening kit" available here. Remember, suppliers are almost as eager for you to stay in business as you are.
On that note, don't underestimate the importance of communicating with your staff. Be upfront about your supply status and reducing food waste. Having an open, transparent relationship with your suppliers, staff and customers will have a tremendous impact on your business in the long run.
Finally, if we as industry professionals have learned anything lately, it's resiliency. Expect the unexpected and rise above it. The supply situation can change at any minute and there is no "perfect" strategy.
A second wave is expected later in the year, so preparing your business for potential shortages and even possible outbreaks is essential during this recovery process. It will be some time before we see customer confidence surrounding safety return to normal, but it will. In the meantime, consider additional supplier options, be creative and agile with your menu, and communicate with your vendors, staff and guests about the road that lay ahead.
Remember, change isn't a dirty word. The same spirit that drove you to open your business can drive you to succeed in any landscape. Creativity can keep you from compromising quality. And if you want to give yourself the best chance of navigating these new waters, click here for a free consultation with experienced professionals who will help solve your issues 1 by 1 and make adjusting to the current market as painless as possible.