What can we do now!

March 2020 · Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA

The reality is we don’t know what the state of our industry will be in the short term, but we do know that Covid 19 will pass and we will have answers when or if this type of scenario happens to us again. This is not the first time we have seen a major impact on the catering and special events industry. However, this time it is different, in the past there was a choice to gather or not it was a financial decision not a health crisis where your option has been taken away for the present and personal safety.


The ingenuity and resolve of a caterer to make it work in unique situations is part of the special nature of foodservice professionals. That kind of thinking is going to be truer than ever when this situation breaks and the need to interact in larger groups will be sorely needed by us all. That may come more rapidly than we may image but we need to be thinking about now.


What catering post Covid 19 will look like we don’t know, but in this situation, there is the possibility that we may have to start from scratch. Catering as a whole, as we knew it before March 2020, has been running full bore for 40-50 years with very similar systems, processes and service styles.  It is now the time to take an objective look at all aspects of our business and do the following steps:


Query, Archive, Edit


I use these terms especially as it relates to “data” of our business, but it also crosses over to your operations that are humanistic in nature. These are the steps you should be doing now



You need to ask specific deep-rooted questions about the information you use every day. What kind of data do you have and is it accurate and useful? For caterers it falls into the following:


  • Accounts/Clients – Past and Present and do we have their real and current status?
  • Menu Offerings – What do we actual sell and is it too much to little?
  • Recipes – Are they useful or used in managing the business?
  • Ingredients and Purchased Goods – What and how much do really buy?
  • Equipment – Do we count it, and does it really provide value to our operation?


Within each of these areas there are many layers of questions but fundamentally you are trying to ask the following:


Is the information we use to sell events accurate and is it used effectively to drive our business?



As for the rest of the business the questions would include the following:

  • The Sales Process – Is the process of selling efficient and timely and focused on the customer?
  • Hiring and training – Do you have the work environment to hire and retain the best?
  • Facility Operations – Is you building laid out correctly and do you have the right equipment?
  • The Guest Experience- How can we better serve our customers and provide the highest level of service from initial inquiry to a thank you?



We need to archive old systems, data and processes that can’t survive in the moment and future. Endless manual documents, un-connected system that rely on multiple data entry points of the same information, offices, even the presentation of food needs to be redesigned if not safe.



This is the time to use what resources you can to edit, delete and add data especially if you use any technology from EMS, Recipe Management, Inventory, CRM, Staffing and File Sharing software.


Take a hard look at your data and take the time to fine tune. This includes testing and designing digital documents, reorganizing how you label and store it and editing the numbers and details associated with everything.


If you have an organizational consistency, accurate numbers and efficient processes, then how you serve your customers on the other side of this, will make you a better organization and more profitable where great people will want to work for you.


This may be daunting but we are community so reach out and use the resources that are available to you

John Reed
Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA
John Reed is a professional chef with over 30 years experience. John has extensive knowledge of culinary techniques, ethnic cuisines, food history and more!

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