We are living through very challenging and transformative times where long-assumed models of business are having to be revisited and rethought. The F&B sector has been one of the hardest hit – dependent as it is on physical footfall, social gatherings (the opposite of social distancing!) and customer appetite (pun intended!) for experimenting with cuisines.
The brands that will be quickest to recover will be those that lead with building this trust – starting with transparency around kitchen processes (an area that is usually not visible and accessible to customers). Food safety will lead sales – especially in times of social distancing.
Prior to COVID-19, customers largely did not inquire into what hygiene and safety processes were followed in the kitchen as long as the food tasted good and the service was good. However, this sequence has been turned on its head post COVID-19. Now what matters most to customers is what happens in the kitchen, followed by how the food tastes and lastly the service. Customers are now preferring to order (and are willing to spend more) from places they perceive as having safer kitchens - they would rather skip their favorite pizza if they are unsure about the safety practices in that kitchen.
Although some brands are now displaying live feeds of their kitchens for the benefit of dine-in and takeout customers, oddly, delivery customers still do not have access to these feeds (I wonder why brands do not put up live streams of their kitchens on Instagram Live from time to time - given that nearly all their target customers would already on Instagram). Sharing behind-the-scenes kitchen processes with customers has never been easier – a restaurant / cloud kitchen can easily demonstrate its kitchen processes through images and videos on social media. While almost all brands have been sharing creatives around their overall safety practices, it is quite surprising that very few have actually taken the effort to continually highlight and reiterate their kitchen processes - the one thing that could have the biggest impact not only on their delivery sales, but also get customers to eventually come and dine-in. Yes, delivery sales are a lot higher than pre-COVID for many brands, but they could be even higher if a brand regularly highlighted their kitchen processes.
A couple of hospitality companies that have been doing a good job of highlighting their kitchen processes in action regularly on social media are Suzette Gourmet (the company behind the popular Suzette and Kitchen Garden brands) and Hunger Inc Hospitality (the company behind the super-successful The Bombay Canteen, O Pedro and Bombay Sweet Shop brands).
Here is an example of how Suzette Gourmet highlights its kitchen processes:
Here is an example of how Hunger Inc Hospitality highlights its kitchen processes:
One additional thing that these (and other brands) can do is to create an Instagram Story Highlight section specially focused on their kitchen safety and other safety processes - that would make these COVID safety processes easily discoverable by anyone visiting their Instagram profile.
Creating and maintaining checklists of kitchen safety processes (and other processes) becomes key in ensuring that staff are following these measures – giving management a sense of control and comfort even in these uncertain times. A detailed checklist could include timestamped videos and images to record hygiene practices, kitchen conditions and protocols. Parts of this could then be shared with customers and / or simply maintained for internal controls using a daily process automation software like PeakScale.
This as an opportunity for F&B brands to connect to customers in a more personal way, addressing their concerns while building trust and placing their needs at the forefront of internal processes.
Do you know of other brands proactively highlighting kitchen safety processes during COVID-19? Or do you have questions about how to implement kitchen safety processes? You can email me. If you want to learn more about PeakScale's software, you can setup a quick 20 minute demo here.