Ed’s view: Roaring return

CN editor pic 2020 landscape

Today sees the welcome reopening of indoor dining in England, Wales and Scotland, save for those unfortunate venues in Glasgow and Moray, which remain under level three Covid restrictions for at least a week longer.

This widespread resumption would not have been possible without the essential work of catering equipment distributors and suppliers though, who have been kitting out kitchens and repairing any appliances that have fallen victim to the long period of disuse.

Many dealers seem to be rushed off their feet with a surfeit of work, with anecdotal reports of enquiries, orders and projects all skyrocketing.

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And while this is undoubtedly a hugely positive development for the industry, it does seem now as if many firms are actually struggling with their workload. Likely the mass employee furlough and redundancies means that those left are taking up the slack and may be overburdened. Does this also mean that many companies were too quick to dismiss staff members?

However, there now looks to be a glut of well-known industry names on the recruitment trail. I have seen online postings for roles in most departments across both suppliers and dealers, everything from sales, project management, servicing, administration and finance. This should help to boost the sector and hopefully offer gainful employment to those who were unfortunately let go last year – that is if we haven’t lost them to other sectors already. Equally, if some new blood is attracted into the catering equipment life, then that’s no bad thing either, as a fresh perspective can often pay dividends.

But the recruitment process takes time, so in the very short term if this rate of work continues we may see some very flustered industry executives trying to perform several roles simultaneously. Too much work for the available resources is a nice problem to have on one hand, but on the other, everyone must guard against cutting corners or driving quality down to ensure obligations are met within operators’ demanded timeframes.

As often happens in this community though, if one dealer or manufacturer can’t fulfil requirements, they are very magnanimous about passing on work to suitable competitors to keep the customers happy.

It is here that there could be more opportunities for smaller or more local players to step in and save the day for end users. These introductions can be built upon to develop long-term, fruitful relationships, so I would just caution the originators of the leads – are you sure your company could do better than your competitors in ‘normal’ times? Because if the answer to that is anything other than a resounding ‘yes’, you might find that the switch is permanent and you have lost a good customer because you weren’t agile enough to augment your team in preparation for the order onslaught. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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