by Dallas Henderson, Account Manager at RizePoint
While the top lines of many brands are booming, largely in part to pent up demand, managing the bottom line has been an increasing challenge. Because of COVID-19, our supply chain has been disrupted, many restaurants’ profits plummeted, and we’ve been facing stressful staffing shortages. We’ve had to adapt to new COVID-related protocols and amplify our cleaning and sanitation efforts. We’re wearing masks, social distancing, limiting capacity, and packaging many more “to go” orders. When our traditional on-site auditing paused due to travel restrictions and other pandemic-related regulations, we figured out new ways to conduct inspections. In short, we’ve navigated nearly two years of COVID-related changes, and we’re hoping things will improve dramatically for our industry in the new year.
While the COVID pandemic showed us that we can’t always anticipate what’s coming next, I’ve been studying the trends and I think better days are ahead. My predictions for 2022 include:
- Technology solutions will become more accessible and affordable. There are more simple, modern, affordable software solutions available to restaurant businesses today, and this important trend will continue next year and beyond. Now, restaurants of all sizes will be able to afford the needed transparency across the supply chain. These modern, game-changing solutions will disrupt a software market previously dominated by complexity and high price tags, allowing smaller restaurant brands to finally be able to compete with bigger enterprises. Restaurants will rely on these tools to elevate their business operations, boost efficiency and productivity, cut costs, reduce risks, and maximize safety.
- More transparency. A key change due to the pandemic is the demand for safer spaces with more transparency around safety protocols. Safety and quality used to be something that guests just assumed was taken care of but didn’t think too much about. Now, there’s increased demand and higher expectations for safety in restaurants. In 2022, there will be a continued focus on boosting safety and quality efforts. Restaurants will also continue boosting transparency to demonstrate that they’re taking all necessary precautions to keep employees and guests safer amid stringent COVID-19 protocols.
- A change in how we audit. In spring 2020, many onsite audits were paused, and restaurants shifted to more self-assessments and remote audits out of necessity. And we saw significant benefits of more frequent assessments vs. just a “point in time” snapshot once or twice a year. I predict that in the coming year, more restaurants will move towards a continuous quality model, leveraging more frequent self-assessments, remote audits, and collaborative coaching instead of relying solely on annual or biannual third-party, onsite audits.
- Accelerated competition. This is especially true in the QSR and FC space. The pandemic really hurt FSRs over the last two years, and they’ll be looking to adapt in 2022. Additionally, the strongest brands in the market will continue to push hard at growth, amplify development, and look for more investment opportunities.
- Dining out culture will continue to evolve. Obviously, dining out has changed dramatically since 2020, but it’s not clear, yet, what it will look like in 2022 and beyond. The space will continue to evolve, due to COVID and the labor shortage, and we’ll see less emphasis on full-service dining experiences. Look for take-out trends to rise as COVID cases surge and new variants emerge.
- Tech solutions will intensify. We’re just seeing the early phases of restaurant businesses adapting more tech solutions. Historically, some restauranteurs have been very analog, but the press is on to run more efficiently and effectively or get destroyed by the more tech savvy competition.
- Increased acquisitions – More frequently, we are seeing struggling brands, weaker brands and, in some cases, even thriving brands being absorbed into a conglomeration of dining out options. This is only going to intensify as the larger brands continue to roll up their competition and broaden their portfolios.
- Changes in the supply chain. First, there will be a focus on building an agile, resilient supply chain, which is critical after the widespread COVID-related disruptions we’ve been experiencing. Secondly, circular (not linear) supply chains will trend, as circular supply chains are greener, more sustainable, and can help reduce price volatility.
- More celebrity endorsements. Restaurants are bringing in celebs to boost visibility, excitement, and sales. For example, Drake and Sam Jackson jumped on board with Dave’s Hot Chicken, and country singer Walker Hayes is partnering with Applebee’s, which features his song, Fancy Like, in their commercials and his photo on their menus. Celebrity endorsements of restaurant brands will soon be as commonplace as soda or tennis shoe collaborations.
Over the past two years, we’ve learned to expect the unexpected. No one could have predicted the tremendous impact of COVID on our industry and economy. While we hoped that the pandemic would be over by the end of 2021, we’re still facing plenty of hurdles due to the new surges and variants. I predict better days are ahead, though, with positive trends to come in 2022.
Dallas Henderson, a 25-year veteran of the service industry, is an Account Manager at RizePoint. RizePoint is disrupting traditional market software with their innovative, new product platform Ignite™ Supplier Certification Management, which helps small to medium sized businesses simplify the supplier certification and maintenance process. To discuss RizePoint’s solutions, please contact Dallas at email@example.com.