Effectively Dealing with Supply Chain Disruptions
September 02, 2021 | 639 Views
One of the unexpected aftershocks to hit the hospitality industry following the recent COVID pandemic has been a sudden disruption in our supply chains. Regardless of whether these breakdowns were caused by the many businesses that reopened this year and needed to restock their shelves, or by labor shortages in the transportation industry, almost all restaurants and hotels have experienced shortages of ingredients and supplies.
Keeping on top of these issues will require diligence from your organization, especially in these six areas:
1. Communicating with suppliers
Don’t wait for your suppliers to show up short-handed on your deliveries, and don’t wait for them to reach out to you. Designate someone on your team to proactively contact your reps and find out exactly what they are short of, how long they will be out, and what replacement items are being considered. Please note: if a new product or ingredient is being substituted for your usual item, be sure to ask about potential food allergens that might be contained in the replacement. Your servers might be used to telling guests that the tomato sauce doesn’t have anchovies, for example, but everyone needs to know if that information changes.
2. Communicating with guests
If possible, alert your guests to any ongoing shortages before they arrive at the business and receive the disappointing news. Use your typical communication channels (social media, email blasts, banners/signage, etc.) to prepare them ahead of time and better manage their expectations. You might also encourage them to call your hotels or restaurants before visiting and ask about any menu items or services that will not be available.
3. Alerting third-party services
If you use any of the third-party ordering services (DoorDash, Uber Eats, etc.) at your restaurant, make sure that the person in charge of overseeing the accounts is receiving updates on any shortages and updating the menus. If your supply chain disruptions are affecting more than just a few items, you might consider temporarily deactivating these ordering channels until such a time that things are operating smoothly again.
4. Utilizing the guest recovery program
Are your front-line employees properly trained to deal with frustrated guests? Are they even aware your company has a guest recovery program? If it’s been a while since you have discussed such a program with your teams, perhaps it’s time to dust off the recovery job aids and review the proper steps for listening to complaints, apologizing, and taking action to improve the situation.
5. Responding to guest feedback
Your customers might not say anything while at your hotel or restaurant, but rather wait until they leave and 1) post a negative review on a social media site, 2) post comments on an internal feedback site, or 3) email the home office. When these complaints show up, someone from your team should respond and apologize for the inconvenience, provide information on when items will be back in stock, and invite the guests to return.
6. Involving your staff
Any current shortages should be mentioned each day during your pre-shift meetings so that team members are not caught unaware when taking orders or offering suggestions to guests. Additionally, the solutions developed for dealing with supply chain issues don’t just have to be delivered from the C-suite down to operations. You should also be asking your employees for their ideas – they are the ones who interact with customers each day and, as a result, may generate new and creative ideas for effective complaint resolution, popular substitutions, or avenues to secure the missing items.
We are all hoping that the inventory challenges we have faced the past few months are only temporary and not part of a “new normal,” but however long they last, it’s going to take cooperation at all levels of your organization to ensure that guests continue to receive the best possible experience when visiting one of your locations.