By Maxwell Harding, Founder and CEO Dynamify (www.dynamify.com), a complete digital platform that enables users to pre-order and schedule pick-up times or delivery from food outlets
Since the PM’s roadmap out of lockdown was announced, many hospitality venues have been considering when and how best to open in order to meet regulations while generating enough revenue to feasibly operate. Maxwell Harding, Founder and CEO of Dynamify, shares his thoughts on how technology will play a vital role in the reopening of the hospitality and catering industry post-lockdown. Highlighting how digitised approaches to catering will not only benefit customers but ensure businesses can operate efficiently and cost-effectively.
UTILISING TECHNOLOGY THAT’S READILY AVAILABLE
During 2020, many hospitality venues were quick to adapt and find new ways to serve customers in a contactless way, including click & collect takeaways and QR codes to order, so there’s an argument that Covid-19 has already aided the industry to digitise. However, there are further steps that can be taken in the adoption of technology to maximise profit by utilising software available, including white labelled apps.
Digitising operations doesn’t need to be expensive.The industry has been relatively slow to implement technology, partly because of a misconception that it’s costly and tricky to implement, but also because status quo bias inhibited rapid adoption and adaptation – until Covid-19 took away the option not to innovate. Since launching the Dynamify platform in 2015, we’ve worked closely with hospitality and catering outlets to create a seamless, easy-to-use mobile app that venues can reskin in their branding and then ‘rent’, this is known as ‘Software as a Service’.They require no upkeep, software management or development by the establishment. It’s this type of readily available, plug-and-play technology that the industry must consider in order to future-proof operations and stay ahead of the curve.
REDUCE COSTS TO MATCH A STREAMLINED RETURN TO ‘NORMAL’
The roadmap out of the third national lockdown has shown us that the catering industry will not simply pick up from where it left off in March 2020. The challenges of the past year, coupled with the need to operate in some instances at half capacity to comply with social distancing measures, means many in the industry will be easing back into business with a leaner workforce and a need for more streamlined operations.
Fortunately, readily available automation technology helps hospitality and catering venues to successfully run leaner operations, mainly by cutting capital and operating expenses by up to 50% but also by working out of a centralised kitchen servicing numerous nearby sites.
With automation, there are options to digitise everything in one platform. Apps enable customers to pre- order, make reservations, and pay contactlessly. Not only does this help to relieve time-poor staff, it eliminates physical queues and shared touchpoints, an important element for venues post-Covid. For businesses, the soft- ware offers insight and quick-access data. By tracking orders and managing produce, venues can plan resource and product supply more effectively, reducing waste and saving costs leading to greater sustainability, both environmentally and economically.
Insight into customer purchases is another great way to introduce loyalty and subscription schemes and cre- ate targeted and successful marketing campaigns. In turn this will increase repeat custom and entice new clientele, while reducing costs and time spent on ineffective, ill-informed marketing campaigns.
HOW TECH IS ALREADY HELPING THE INDUSTRY TO CHANGE AND ADAPT
The uptake and implementation of technology in hospitality and catering, which we projected to take five years, has taken less than one- accelerated by the urgent need to remove touchpoints and crowding through- out the pandemic.
Technology has been a lifeline for many hospitality venues over the last year, as apps have helped independent businesses offer click & collect and deliveries, enabling them to compete with large high street chains as well as globally renowned takeaway apps.
Another example of how essential technology has been to the continued running of the catering industry over the last year, can be seen through the exponential increase in the deployment of smart food lockers. These app-access food storage facilities have enabled caterers to continue serving fresh food even after the kitchens and canteens close, while users can pre-order, schedule, pay and collect contactlessly through their mobile phones. At Dynamify, we’ve successfully activated food lockers in various organisations where staff work night shifts, including pharma companies behind the vaccines and in hospitals, meaning frontline workers can access nutritious, fresh food around the clock without queuing.
While food lockers won’t be the norm in every day hospitality outlets, nor will they completely replace tra- ditional restaurant pick-up, they will change the way restaurants with 24/7 customers operate. And learnings from these will likely influence the use of technology in the wider industry over the coming years.
Automation is the key to ensuring the future sustainability of the hospitality industry as it addresses and helps businesses overcome every day challenges – both those identified pre-Covid and, even more paramount, as a result of it.There is a misconception that automation will replace jobs.This is not the case. Utilised properly, automation software can take care of time consuming, mundane and administrative tasks, freeing up time for the customer to enjoy the experience (i.e. the food and atmosphere) and for the staff to focus on additional value-add jobs.
Due to the imminent opening of the hospitality industry, and the essential requirement to operate in accordance with guidelines to ensure safe operations, there is no better time than now for the hospitality industry to embrace it. Furthermore, it’s imperative that the industry recognises that consumers will now expect auto- mated, contactless technology, so hospitality venues risk losing customers if they’re not willing to keep pace.
For further information about Dynamify: www.dynamify.com