How has your business dealt with the lockdown, and what steps have you taken in light of the pandemic?
It has been a challenging time for all! We’ve had to change our business model, consolidating locations to minimise manpower and overheads in order for us to keep the business open.
Our key priority throughout has been our staff and looking after all our employees so we have been determined to do what we can to keep the business afloat and protect our team’s livelihood.
We have been reviewing our operating model to look at where we can improve efficiencies and where there are new opportunities to ultimately come out of this stronger.
We also feel we have a key part to play in the community and have been offering discounts to NHS and other key workers, supporting our local heroes with free hot drinks, offering free school meals to children, and pioneering @feedyourcommunity where we have partnered with City Pantry and 12 partners and charities across London including hospitals, the homeless and City Harvest. To date we have now dropped over £15000 of meals in our mission to look after London.
How are you keeping engaged with staff at this time?
We have a number of different platforms we are using; we have two WhatsApp groups, one on communication updates on the situation and one focussed on wellness and supporting them through the period.
We have been using our partners to do yoga sessions and also doing social media workshops for self-learning through zoom.
We have also used Perkbox to do surveys and recognitions programs to make sure we are interacting with all of our team most days.
We feel it’s really important we show our support as much as possible and to keep an open dialogue so we’ve been very transparent with an open door approach including a weekly ‘drop in’ zoom call with our Head of People for simple chat – some of the topics have been on the industry and situation to the price of fuel and oil!
What’s been your biggest surprise for the company in a positive way?
I don’t think our team stop surprising me in general but some of the entrepreneurial ideas that have come from our people have been amazing and have opened up new and incremental revenue streams – from the ideas we have implemented, I think we are probably going to continue at least 80% of them long term.
How will social distancing affect your business, and what plans do you have in place for this?
It’s going to be an interesting time for the industry, the whole ethos of hospitality is about interaction, communication and socialising so it is a sad day when we are talking about restricting this.
The message to our teams at the minute is that we will operate in the safest way for our teams and our guests while retaining the essence of our brands and the industry we love.
What trends are you seeing to come out this time?
The community spirit and how everyone is supporting the key workers is going to be a real positive – the initiatives from ‘Feed Your Community’ and ‘Feed the NHS’ are initiatives that show community responsibility has a huge part to play in every business.
I also firmly believe the crisis will bring a focus on supply chain and food source, we have already started to review this with our suppliers to ensure full traceability of all products used in our kitchens.
Scot Turner is the vice president of operations at hospitality group QOOT