Hi Simon, good to chat! Tell us your thoughts about the current hospitality landscape.
The industry is facing the biggest challenges I’ve seen in my lifetime. There are new stats coming through on an almost daily basis that talk about fears of mass redundancies and companies facing insolvency. Whilst things certainly seem bleak, the positivity and determination of the industry professionals around me fills me with hope. It’s likely going to be a tough time for many but ultimately food is a great unifier and something we just can’t live without. Hospitality is a creative and industrious industry and I’m confident we’ll be able to ride this storm together.
What was the idea behind the Made Again workshop programme?
Together with the coaching team at Eyes Wide Opened, we’ve created the Made Again programme – a series of interactive, online workshops that aim to transform the lives of people who are at risk of losing their livelihood.
When we spoke to people in the industry it became clear that nobody was addressing one of their biggest concerns: how can they move forward in a proactive way to further their chances of employment post-COVID. The vast majority of those we spoke with were also unaware of the skills they’ve honed as part of their day-to-day work. We knew our job was to help people explore their wide range of transferable skills and discover ways they can pivot and adapt to move forward with confidence in themselves and a strong support network behind them.
The results we’ve seen from our pilot workshops have been heart-warmingly positive and are testimony to what people are capable of when they have the right kind of support and a strong fighting spirit.
How will the industry need to adapt in order to survive and prevail?
What we’re not getting at the moment is clarity, which makes it very difficult to plan for the future. As an industry we will need to push the government to provide clear guidelines for what is acceptable and safe practice for hosting guests within our establishments.
Hospitality businesses will also need to adapt their offering in order to bring people together differently and open up revenue streams. The obvious is virtual events – I recently cooked with 60 business delegates online in their own kitchens. At Brigade Bar + Kitchen, we have tried to focus on changing our customer experience, switching our message from just being a restaurant and shifting our customers’ patterns. For example, the bar has become our main usage rather than the restaurant.
There will also be a large number of businesses that will need to focus solely on quality asset and cashflow management during this time to avoid running out of money and exhausting the goodwill of their stakeholders.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to industry staff right now?
Keep updated on all the changes as they come in and seek out the support that’s available to you – don’t suffer silently. Try to be as flexible as possible in the way you work and what you can offer at this time and get creative to keep yourself open to opportunities. Most importantly don’t give up on your purpose; it’s your reminder of why you’re doing this and why the effort is worth it at the end of the day.
To find out more about the Made Again workshops, visit Beyondfood.org.uk/madeagain.