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“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Mark Twain

 Taking back control

Adrian Kilby, creative director of the Formation Creative Consultants, has overseen his branding agency through many a crisis over the last 26 years and knows now is not the time for navel gazing or self-pity...

 Enough is enough

Personally speaking, I think we’ve all had enough of the ‘C-word’. As I write this, Boris has just made his latest pronouncements. Nothing new – just a redistribution of the pain. Quelle surprise…

Let’s stop wringing our hands. Now is the time to become far more pragmatic and look at how we can really maximise whatever latent potential and opportunities we can each identify in our businesses - however small they might at first appear.

Brutal as it may seem, it’s the survival of the fittest. When finances are restricted, then mental agility and creative thinking become even more valuable commodities.

Fortune favours the brave

If we can’t have confidence, then at least let’s be positive and opportunistic. There is some funding available and the hospitality sector might be badly wounded, but it’s not dead on its feet. It is already evolving - but expect major growing pains.

Cutting through the noise

Things will get better- they always do. The trick is to still be standing when the fat lady sings. This requires both courage and commitment. As the recession bites, more food retail/hospitality businesses will go to the wall. This will create an opportunity for those remaining to be heard more clearly, increasing their ability to re-establish their credentials, relevance and authority in a far less crowded marketplace.

Ever heard of Post cereal?

In the 1920’s, Post was the leader in the ready-to-eat cereal category. During the Great Depression, Post cut back significantly its advertising budget. Rival, Kellogg’s, doubled its advertising budget and introduced a new cereal called Rice Krispies. Kellogg’s profits grew by 30% and the company became category leader, a position it has maintained for decades.

Quick thinking in QSR

In the 1990-91 recession in the U.S., Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage of McDonald’s  decision to drop its advertising and promotions budget. As a result, Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%, Taco Bell sales grew by 40% and McDonald’s sales declined by 28%.

However, the writing is on the wall in terms of timings. Even the most optimistic must now concede that this is to be a true marathon. 2020 is all about survival, 2021 will be recovery and 2022 will hopefully start to bear the fruits of all our personal and collective labours.

Tell me when it hurts

Change can be painful, especially when it is forced, but it can also act as a catalyst for much needed internal reviews, re-assessments and an incentive to ask “what if..?”  This can be both psychologically nourishing as well as practically and financially rewarding

“If it ain’t broke, break it?...”

It’s time to ’take back control’. Accept what absolutely can’t be changed and redirect your energies to challenging what those restrictions really mean to your business. Then work to minimise any negative impact and look at how they might pre-empt a change of direction / emphasis or a major refocussing.

Thinking inside the box (or bag or pod)

The following suggestions serve to challenge and stimulate. Some of these you may already be doing/considering. Some are quick fixes, while others are longer term commitments. Remember, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and, in reality, no one is going to save your business but you.

Consider a move purely into take away/delivery.
Explore the economics of a ghost kitchen and getting your app onto the delivery platforms.
Could your food/ drink be packaged as a retail brand and sold online?
Could your food / drink be packaged as a retail brand and sold into the multiples?
Can your food be deconstructed into ingredients and sold as meal kits for re-creation at home?
Is there merit in refining your existing food/drink range into a more niche/speciality offer?

Maximise any outdoor space. As the weather becomes more unpredictable and If you have the room, look at renting pop up tents or mini sheds/greenhouses.  If space is limited, think heaters or ethanol table burners or fire bowls, funky hot water bottles and blankets. Make not freezing, fun!

Explore forming a collective with other similar or related businesses and sharing facilities/resources.

If your business has a city and suburban presence, then look to maximise the potential of the suburban locations, to help support the quieter city sites, as more workers operate from home and patronise their local cafés and restaurants. 

Liberate yourself from re-action to pro-action!

Adrian Kilby is the founder and creative director of the Formation Creative Consultants (www.theformation-cc.co.uk). A multi award-winning international brand creation agency founded in 1994, it has weathered many a storm.

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