What Was Ever Certain?
The ever-changing situation surrounding COVID 19 is unprecedented and for many it's a time of uncertainty and great concern. Reading this or similar comments in numerous articles, LinkedIn posts and Twitter feeds has made me ask, is there such a thing as certainty in our uncertain world?
I suppose, in certain limited and controlled situations it's arguable that it exists. Heck, the definition of certainty even says it exists; "a fact that is definitely true or an event that is definitely going to take place”.
My observation of certainty is that many of us, myself included, expect things will go the way we’ve come to expect (the same old routine) day in and day out, and we take comfort in our belief in this certainty. Therefore, certainty is a way for us to feel in control - to believe that things are going to unfold in a certain, predictable way.
Clarity > Certainty
However, given the endless news cycles and social media feeds describing the coronavirus’ ever-changing status drives uncertainty. It's a wonder anyone can get clarity around the situation, which I'd argue is far more helpful than certainty when it comes to feeling or being in control. The definition of clarity; “being certain or definite about / the ability to see things as they really are”.
The reality is, we live in a fast paced, highly complex ever-changing world where we lack control over most things going on around us which is why, I believe we seek the comfort of certainty. But in our real-time world where things are changing rapidly certainty is non-existent (I mean, who wasn't certain that March Madness would go off as planned), and it’s clarity that’s needed so we can see the situation as it is and take steps dictated by that clarity.
With changes taking effect across the restaurant industry in response to COVID 19 (full business shutdowns or limited operations), I'd argue that if you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to offer delivery or curbside pickup, that operational execution, while always very important, is even more critical now and clarity into that execution is imperative.
Data Over Speculation
Having near real-time information in the hands of your existing operations team is critical to seeing clearly where things are going well and where they’re not so action can be taken at locations when and where needed. In a world where "Social Distancing" and "Self Quarantine" are the new normal, this capability will allow your OPS team members to cover more locations and will also avoid unnecessary contact with / trips to locations where things are going well.
Being able to transform your data in near real-time into actionable information on issues such as speed of service, labor levels, guest feedback and cleanliness are imperative to ensuring your guests will keep coming back. Along with this, I’d also encourage looking closely at location data - Campus, Mall, Rural, Suburban, Urban as these key indicators could help you determine whether a location should be open or closed. I'd also look closely at your sales by hour vs labor consumed to further determine which locations should be open or closed and due to unforeseen demand changes in demand, which, if any locations should be open earlier / later or both.
Being able to see operational issues clearly and adjust as needed is imperative to surviving through this crisis and quite possibly coming out stronger and better positioned to tackle the growth as the crisis begins to abate.
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