Sharing Success – Tom Cortopassi
All of us in the Stanislaus Foods family hope that your holidays were as meaningful as ours. Like most folks, we stayed close to home and did our best to celebrate with distant loved ones in a remote fashion.
It is often customary to wish others a “Happy New Year.” Given the sobering events of 2020 and the continuing impact of COVID-19, “happy” doesn’t seem appropriate. So instead, let me wish you and yours another traditional Italian greeting – Prospero Anno Nuovo – which translates to May your New Year be more prosperous!
For me, the New Year is traditionally a time that I reflect on recent events and look ahead to what new trends may be on the horizon.
Looking back, I am extremely proud to be associated with so many tenacious restaurateurs who have faced a multitude of business challenges as a result of COVID-19.
A question on many minds is probably “When will the COVID-19 nightmare finally end?” To that, I have no definitive answer. The good news is that a vaccine program is now underway. However,
it will take time to achieve adequate coverage and for the results to instill the confidence in people to return to life as we knew it.
Therefore, perhaps a better question is “How can restaurateurs continue to make the best of things until then?”
I don’t pretend to know what it takes to successfully run a restaurant. But directionally, here are a few possible “New Year’s Resolutions” that all business leaders might consider for the coming year:
Keep Encouraging Your Team! After almost a year of COVID-19, most folks are worn out from bad news and negativity. This is especially true of essential businesses, including restaurants, which are often understaffed and overworked. Leaders are tired too. But if you are like the restaurateurs I have spoken with, you already go out of your way to encourage your team and let them know how much their individual contributions are appreciated. Such praise from a leader can help teams tap into renewed energy and enthusiasm for the tough work they do. Sharing “sunshine” with employees can also help customers feel more upbeat!
Keep Adapting! COVID-19 has thrown a lot of curveballs which have changed the rules of business and will likely continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Many businesses had to adapt just to survive. Ihavebeenespeciallyimpressedbyhowdine-inrestaurants have worked to protect employee health, navigate dining room restrictions, and shift gears to boost takeout sales. My advice is never stop improving!
Seek Hidden Opportunity! As my Uncle Dino is fond of saying, “Opportunity often arrives cleverly disguised as an unsolvable problem!” For you and me, COVID-19 was certainly a big problem that we could not
“solve.” Instead, we had to find ways to safely operate through it.
That said, any kind of economic disruption creates a host of opportunities for subsequent business growth and success.
Some are relatively easy to spot. For example, tough times often cause real estate prices to adjust. If so, there may be chances to upgrade/move/add locations or lock-in better rents for longer periods of time. Others are more subtle. For example, shifts in consumer behavior which were underway prior to COVID continue to change. Understanding and addressing these trends can help businesses remain relevant over the long haul. In any case, keep seeking further opportunities for continued innovation!
Remain profitable! During the heat of crisis, businesses do what it takes to make it through. But going forward, you must resolve to remain profitable. Economic tough times often force us to rethink how we “do business” from top to bottom. It is worth the time to re- examine things like streamlining your offerings to only items which are both popular and profitable, identifying efficiency improvements and/or cost reductions, and ensuring that sales facilitated by third parties generate more profit than cost, etc. However, avoid anything that would reduce your competitive flavor advantage!
Despite current hardships, I remain incredibly positive about the future of Independent restaurants because of two truths which have remained rock solid through this and previous tough times:
- Regardlessofeconomicchallenges,consumersalwaysprefer to eat great-tasting restaurant food.
- Consumers have always appreciated the sense of community and the warmth they receive from restaurant experiences. They have missed this and crave it now more than ever.
So again, I wish you and yours a Prospero Anno Nuovo! We are proud to stand with you today and in the future!
President and Co-Owner