by | Mar 5, 2021 | Business

Build back better.

Earlier this month Burger King announced their pledge to ‘Build Back Better’ post-pandemic, outlining their own roadmap for sustainability, food quality and ethics. Their goals include having 100% recycled or certified packaging and 0% single-use plastics by 2025, and they pledge to minimise the negative social and environmental impact of their operational footprint.

It’s a strategic move for Burger King at this time. Now more than ever, customers want to support brands who are doing more for their community, and for the planet. The experiences we have once lockdown is lifted will need to be worth it in every sense – because if we are spending our money and our time somewhere, we want to feel that we are making a worthy contribution to our community and supporting businesses who care.

This made me think about the opportunity our local indies also have to ‘Build Back Better’ once lockdown is lifted. What can be done now to ensure that the comeback is greater than the setback?

When hospitality reopens, we expect to see an initial surge of customers who are out simply because they can be. Whilst the pandemic has been catastrophic for some, it’s also created a group of accidental savers as figures show that approximately 10% of the population have put money away during the last 12 months that they would otherwise have spent on experiences, holidays and socialising. In the same way as Eat Out to Help Out brought new customers through the door, this increased spending power once lockdown is eased presents a massive opportunity to grow your customer base.

But you only get one chance to make a first impression, and to do that you’ll need to connect with your customer on an emotional level. If you’re going to ‘Build Back Better’ consider taking the following steps before you reopen:                

Ensure that your team are confident and prepared. Your people are your superpower, but many will not have worked for months and although they’re keen to get back to serving your customers there’s things they may have forgotten. Now is a good time to ensure that any staff training is up to date, check that any food safety certificates, and first aid qualifications are still valid. Hold a team meeting and align everyone with your business goals and beliefs, remind them of your purpose and thank them for their contribution to your success.

Review your supply chain. Question whether your suppliers are truly aligned with your own ethics, from how they treat their people to their position on sustainability. UK Hospitality figures show that 83% of customers expect hospitality brands to engage with at least one of the key aspects of sustainability, and 65% expect to see ethically sourced food and drink including seasonal, local and fairly traded ingredients. There are a number of great local suppliers who have flourished during the last 12 months, so before returning to your tried and tested list, take some time to connect with some smaller independent suppliers who may be valuable to your business. Ordering your cakes from a local baker rather than your wholesaler won’t necessarily impact your bottom line, but it could make a huge difference to their business and give you a wonderful story to tell about collaboration and supporting your local community.

Watch your waste. Almost half of all hospitality businesses identify reducing food waste as an area for concern. Now is a good time to review your ordering and stock control process as rotation, labelling and storage will all have an impact on the amount of food you throw out. Remember that waste doesn’t stop in the kitchen, and simple solutions like asking customers if they wish to take leftovers home or participating in initiatives such as Fareshare and Too Good to Go will ensure that your community also benefits from your sustainable approach.  Reducing food waste will not only help the environment, but also save you money in the longer term.

Rethink your communication. Your customer’s needs have changed, and whilst they’ll be excited to see you and be back in your venue, they may also be a little nervous. Don’t be afraid to tell them about the great things you are doing and reassure them at every stage of their journey that your business is worthy of their support. From sharing elements of your sustainability plan within your menu, shouting about your Covid-Safe certification through your online channels or just asking them how they feel on that first trip out, connecting with your customers at a human level and letting them know that you care about the same things they do will help to build that valuable emotional connection.

To quote Burger King’s UK Chief Exec “The underlying aim of the Burger King for Good initiative is to be transparent, be accountable and work with others to ensure our business decisions are well informed and sound.” And at a basic level, this should be the ethos of every business. Be honest, collaborate, and let your core values drive your decision-making process.

This opinion article does not necessarily represent the views of Foursquare Group as an organisation.
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