“If you don’t adapt, you’re going to fail.”
During the first quarter of the year, many businesses have taken a large and unprecedented hit brought about by COVID-19; with the new virus transmitting at an alarming rate, restaurants, being notable spaces for social gatherings among other things, have greatly been affected with some even closing for good.
All isn’t bad news especially with restaurants slowly reopening and luckily, we’ve managed to have Eric Dee discuss with us what he and the rest at Foodee Gobal Concepts are doing to keep their restaurants thriving amidst the pandemic.
Eric Dee is the COO of Foodee Global Concepts, owned and handled by the Dee family who’ve been in the F&B industry for more than 30 years and have brought in Michelin star brands such as Tim Ho Wan, Hawker Chan, and also manage notable homegrown brands like Mesa, Pound, Sunnies Café, and many others.
With an impressive roster of restaurants, Foodee Global Concepts was definitely not spared from the pandemic. Eric shares with us the major adjustments they had to do to sustain the business, what he learned, and advice for others in the industry.
Steps To Survive
Dining in was completely out of question especially during the first months of strict quarantine which led Foodee Global to immediately shift to delivery resulting in taking up to 80-90% of their operations; they even purchased mobile freezers for their delivery fleet to accommodate demand for Llao Llao’s frozen yogurt. The shift also brought about opportunities such as for Kam’s Roast; Kam’s Roast’s Father’s Day sales have done significantly better in 2020 than the previous year all thanks to the swift delivery shift.
As community quarantine guidelines became less stringent, restaurants were allowed to offer dine-in to customers but at only 30% capacity. Eric shares that of course, the very priority was safety. Safety measures in place, they launched the “#DeeLiciouslySafe” campaign to emphasise that they are going above and beyond to keep both their customers and their employees safe.
Safety measures included accelerating their digital initiatives which is essentially, going contactless (e.g., digital menus, cashless transactions, etc.) but they also made sure to provide safety as well for those who still opt for cash and credit card transactions by having UV disinfecting techniques (i.e., having specific containers for cash, receipts, change, and the like that’ll be disinfected by UV technology). He also says to be more mindful when adjusting to the new norm such as with their decision to purchase contactless thermometers for more efficiency instead of having an employee simply stand and check temperatures all day.
Lastly, another significant step that Eric and his team had to take was to lay off a number of employees. This, undoubtedly, was one of the most difficult for Eric as the company would not be able to sustain everyone with the way the pandemic was playing out. There is a silver lining though as it also brought to light a number of weak links that were not lifting their own weight.
Key Insights & Advice
Eric shares the importance of transparency, clear communication, technology, and being able to adapt.
With the erratic nature of a pandemic, it’s now more important than ever that the message you share is clear with the whole company; as Eric shares, “We need[ed] to make sure that the message was dissected from the top all the way until the bottom; that they [also] understood [why] we’re creating plans for them, we’re looking towards the future. Empathy has been a big part of it.” The company made sure to communicate the numbers that they had to hit and how exactly they’d achieve that; transparency and effective communication was also key in reminding employees that everyone in the team has a significant role that helped and continues to help build what Foodee Global Concepts is today.
Eric also emphasizes that during these unprecedented times, it’s a must to be flexible and adapt accordingly or else your business will be doomed for failure, “We thought that this would have been something we couldn’t do but we’re having to learn to adapt. If you don’t adapt, you’re going to fail… so we’ve been very flexible.” One all encompassing method of being flexible is using more technology to your advantage. These days, we have many apps help not only internally but make it more efficient for customers as well (e.g., Zoom, Delivery apps, etc).
For a more in-depth take, you may watch the full video below or directly on our Facebook page. Stay tuned for highlights.
The pandemic has brought about new and unique challenges that many businesses are currently facing and we hope that our Business in The Time of COVID-19 series can help you and your team navigate through many of these obstacles. You may follow our LinkedIn page for up and coming discussions with other business leaders in the country.