Fleeting foot traffic and constant disruptions are just two of the major challenges for foodservice businesses in 2022 as we move into a new phase of COVID-life. Living with the virus will be no easy feat so it’s important to understand these challenges as we move forward.
Despite the array of shifts that have transpired throughout the hospitality industry, one thing will remain key to a business’ success, and that’s customer appeal and satisfaction. With consumers understandably tighter with their funds and cautious with their movements, it’s imperative that you capture their attention and tick all their desired boxes.
But what will customers be looking for in 2022? It’s a question front of mind for most hospo management teams. If you’re looking for answers, here’s what we believe will be high on consumer wish lists this year when it comes to foodservice:
1) Strict Hygiene Standards
Although some diners will be willing to throw caution to the wind, there is still a large portion of Australians that will be wary to venture out to dine regularly. Which means that holding your health and hygiene practices to a high standard is a must. Don’t let potential customers turn themselves away because they’re unsure that you’re taking this seriously. If you’re operating with a reduced team due to staff shortages, be sure to leave ample time between diners to clean and clear any mess.
2) No cash, no problem!
The industry was already trending this way, but COVID has made carrying cash even more redundant. According to Reserve Bank data analysed by the Australian Banking Association, ATM withdrawal amounts are down 37% following the impacts of COVID. While credit and debit spending has skyrocketed. So, if you aren’t investing in a quick and efficient payment system, now’s the time to.
3) Outdoor dining
There has been a greater emphasis on outdoor dining over the past couple of years and something to strongly consider investing in if you have the space available. States like Victoria and New South Wales have relied heavily on the success of outdoor dining, with grants and rebates still available in some areas to help businesses develop. Strike while the weather is still hot as customers could potentially become more cautious to leave the house when Winter rolls around.
4) Clear & honest communication
Despite some cases of harassment from customers, most people seem to be fairly understanding of the current situation. So, if you have to close or make changes to your operation, don’t be afraid to communicate the reasons why. It’s important that you find an effective way to communicate these important messages as well. Whether it’s through your social media pages, newsletter database or a simple sign posted in the store front (or ideally all three!) you’ll want to build a clear line of communication with your existing customers.
5) Retail offering
Throughout the pandemic, many businesses have successfully turned their famed menu items into take-home retail products. With supply chains expected to struggle in 2022, there could be opportunities for you to exploit when certain things become unavailable at supermarkets. The #supportlocal movement has made people more willing to spend for quality goods if it means helping local businesses. So why not ask your customers what’s missing from their cupboards at home and see if you can offer what it is they’re looking for.
6) Efficient takeaway
The delivery app market boomed with the implementation of lockdowns, but any momentum has taken a hit as staff shortages hamper these services as well. Considering the often-shaky relationship between these apps and business owners, some are choosing to change the way that they do takeaway. If you can limit delivery times by employing your own fleet of riders, then this could be extremely beneficial as consumers may become fed-up with waiting so long.
A more traditional approach to takeaway is also a possibility for those struggling financially. So long as you’re online ordering system is simple and easy to use, people should be more open to picking up their food themselves.