There is no doubt in my mind: the Hospitality Industry will be back in 2021! But, will the industry look the same as it recovers? No. Will we need to change how we work in order to thrive in the new marketplace? Yes!
If I’ve learned one thing by being in the catering business since 1988, it’s that the industry is always changing. The companies that aren’t afraid to think differently are the ones who survive and grow stronger. We aren’t producing the same events with the same food or themes that we were 20 years ago. We continue to change and improve on the events we produce.
So, why shouldn’t we do the same with how we manage our businesses?
Hiring the old way
When I started my catering business in 1992, I had been working for a caterer who failed in that year’s recession. Back then, I worked event to event until I eventually gathered more business. I prided myself on hiring and training all my own staff. Events were smaller and it didn’t require tons of service staff. I was able to get by with a good list of servers who either went to school and were looking for flexible hours, or others who had full-time jobs but wanted extra work on the side. Everyone knew the way we did things, which made it easy to pass on information and learn on the job. As the company grew, so did our full-time staff.
Hiring the new way
I was late to the game when it comes to hiring outside help from either temporary staffing agencies and companies like Instawork. Thinking I could still hire and train all of my own staff only hurt my business. I was only able to take on so many events at a time with limitations on staff. Business had been booming the past 10 years, and I was forced to look for outside help for staffing. When I did, my business exploded.
The past five years, we’ve catered mega-events of 1000+ guests, and even some larger events with 20,000 guests. Competing in this type of market forced me to learn that I need core staff who know our values and how things work. Then, those individuals manage many of our outside staff.
Looking back, looking ahead, and growing cautiously
Looking ahead, I don’t see the catering business being the exact same. There is going to be pent-up demand, but I doubt companies will want the liability of gathering large numbers of employees in the same place for a while. So, yes, we are going to be busy, but it will be different. With the events over the past year, it’s possible that we could start booming again and then be held back by health concerns at times.
To move forward, I also have to look back. What have I learned in the past few years of catering? Things always change, and I need to change with them. It always hurts to have to let go of all your staff. It is also expensive and I don’t want to have to go through that again.
“Growing Cautiously” will be my motto for the next year. Today, we are slowly bringing back our core staff and will continue to do so. Most events are going to be heavily supplemented with our outside partners like Instawork. In the long run, I find it costs less to use reliable workers rather than having more people on our payroll system. It should make for a lot fewer headaches, too.
Instawork is a leading flexible staffing solution located in over 20 metro cities, including California (SF Bay Area, LA, San Diego), Texas (Austin, Dallas, Texas), Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami, NJ/NYC Metro, Phoenix, and more.