The New Now : Navigating Through the Challenges

The New Now

As we begin re-opening under COVID protocols, the coming months will be at least uncertain, and for most, a battle to survive.

In my work, I find that the challenges are consistent across the board. The symptoms include staff shortages, a transient workforce, few trained career professionals, too many competitors, narrow-to-non-existent profit margins, poor return on investment, high rates of business failure, unmanageable levels of stress, unsocial and long hours, mental illness, addiction and burnout… you name it; this industry dishes it up!

This list of challenges is a ‘normal’ that business owners and industry professionals need to leave behind. We must shape a sustainable future for all who are proud to call ourselves industry professionals.

We are drawn to the industry to express our creativity and manifest our passion for fantastic food and drink–the desire to provide genuine hospitality, to create, design, educate and express our authentic selves. We are hooked.

The current crisis forces us all to look at doing things differently: With intention, boldness and cooperation. It is time to stop being exhausted by battling the symptoms and begin to influence the root causes. How to accomplish this?

Here are a few things to consider:

1. Be straight up about your situation.
Sit with your team and reimagine your vision, purpose, target market, concept. Formalize your intention, direction and long-term objectives. You cannot be all things to all people. Do you best and stand firm.

2. Establish your top five critical priorities.
Do this for the next three months and commit to a quarterly planning cycle. It is not a To-Do list. Instead, it outlines the most vital goals for the next 90 days.

3. Focus and streamline your concept, operation, all systems and processes. Don’t make this too complicated. Well-thought-out and straightforward is not easy, but it is vital to your survival.

4. Simplify everything.
Knock your menu and drinks list offerings down to your top sellers and execute this at the highest possible level. Do less, and do it better!

5. Aggressively support local growers, producers and suppliers.
Challenge yourself to be less reliant on the industrial food supply chain.


Text by John Reese owner of  Table Nine Coaching

Photography by Helene Cyr

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