COVID-19 – Implications, Predictions, and Resources from Around the World
In the age of instantaneous global communication and a worldwide glut (plague?) of experts and pundits predicting where COVID-19 (coronavirus) might lead, the simple fact is NO ONE KNOWS.
Much as we deal with tomorrow's weather, we must do what we can to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. (Remember Y2K? Still, you don't know it's over until it's over.)
Here are some obvious guesses about the immediate and longer-term impact on restaurants:
- Restaurants will see a decline in eating out and an increase in take-out and delivery.
- Delivery services will have a temporary field day, and so will their drivers – if consumers trust them to deliver germ-free product – and they can find enough reliable (and healthy) drivers to fill the anticipated increase in demand. Looking ahead, with more people turning to delivery, the longer-term result is that many who have never used delivery before may be more inclined to use it in the future as the panic of a pandemic fades away in the coming months. Either way, delivery wins, and restaurants might want to look ahead to making structural changes.
- Take-out will increase for both those customers who want to minimize exposure to public spaces, and from those who don't trust the personal hygiene of third-party delivery services, or even those of restaurants themselves. Again, restaurants will have to adjust on the operational side, immediately and for the longer term.
One man's perspective
Bhavin Asher, CEO of Boca Raton-based Grubbrr – a supplier of foodservice technologies (self-service kiosks, POS systems, mobile ordering, online ordering, tableside ordering, and food lockers) – provided his thoughts on the subject:
"Chinese and Asian-owned businesses have said that they are seeing less customer traffic flow as a function of the fear that Asians will spread coronavirus. As it relates to the kiosk, we are getting feedback that there is a hesitation to touch anything, including the kiosk.
The degree of coronavirus severity is really going to depend on the degree of its impact on supply chains and employees' ability to get to work. You might get significant issues where road travel is regulated. This is accelerating the conversation at a higher level about voice and online ordering.
DoorDash did an SCC filing that would give them an option to go public in the future. They did this because trends confirm that segment of food delivery will be a net beneficiary of coronavirus. However, people still want to trust the chef making your food and the driver delivering, and must be assured that they are keeping clean."
Perspectives from around the world
It's still too early for definitive data, but let's go with anecdata and some common sense. Since this began in Asia, here's a look at how these first movers acted (and reacted). What follows is a sampling of recent articles, many from Asia. So rather than panic or pull the covers over your head, U.S. franchisors can use this news to get a step ahead of what's to come. After all, it's the pioneers who get arrows in the back.
There is no shortage of advice about what to do and how to plan for and cope with what seems like an inevitable spread of COVID-19 worldwide. Here's a recent list from the IFA:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization
Business & Industry-Specific Resources
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