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  • Writer's pictureShraddha Umrao

Restaurateurs Talks with Adam Cook: Effect of COVID-19 on F&B Industry

We have connected with Adam from London, founder of Louder Digital for a discussion on COVID-19, and the impact on the F&B industry.

How is the situation in London due to Covid-19? Adam: I think it’s scary for everyone. Everyone has their own battles. Some people are fighting worse battles than others. Everyone has their challenges and I think that there is a lot of chaos and everyone has to fight it together by maintaining social distancing and taking certain precautions. But technology has made our battles easier.

We can interact and connect. If you’ll look at the pandemics which happened 100 years ago, it was a lot scarier than today due to the absence of technology. At this point in time, we will all realise the importance of technology more and the value it provides to all of us. Also, we don’t know where and when it is going to end and what is going to happen next and there is a lot of fear, so yeah, it’s very scary as it’s uncertain.

What changes do you think will emerge in the hospitality industry post-COVID-19?

Adam: This is a terrible time for anyone to go into the hospitality business. Restaurateurs who are already in the hospitality industry are struggling and they are finding it hard to survive. It’s one of the toughest industries to be in right now. In terms of changes, founders and owners have to start realising now the importance of having different streams of income.

In the UK, a lot of restaurant shops have started selling produce and frozen food in order to generate some income so that people can buy that food and cook them at home. And restaurants need to understand that now their customers are not going to visit restaurants for fine dining and need to think of some other ways to make money.

As I mentioned before, restaurants are really struggling so if business owners are more creative they can clear this phase easily. In fact, a lot of restaurateurs have already been forced to be creative. Restaurants that have really huge fan pages are now releasing the recipe books online and it’s driving a lot of people to follow them, interact and they are gaining attention.

They’re selling ingredients so that people can buy products and cook the dish with the same taste at their home by reading the book. Now people have started realising the importance of the follower base. What we can see in the coming days that restaurants will have multiple ways to generate income and will focus on having stronger online brands.

What do you suggest industry folks do in order to survive this Pandemic? Adam: Invest wisely, if you’re borrowing the money then think before you invest it. Think of how you can drive profit from new revenue streams like packaged food. Even if you have got a big pocket, don’t just sit and wait for the pandemic to get over because there are a lot of enthusiastic restaurant entrepreneurs who are capitalising on this situation.

After this pandemic, some businesses are going to come out of this much much stronger.

So if you don’t try to get more attention during this time and when we come off this pandemic you’ll see your competitors way ahead of you and it’s going to be very hard for you like a restaurant to ever catch up. I think that’s the thing people just don’t sit back and relax. Maybe if you’re a restaurant owner and if you have got a lot of money who can easily go through this then maybe you can sit down and relax.

Being a marketer how are you trying to help your clients in the hospitality industry during this pandemic?

Adam: Yes, we are working for the restaurant owners for free. I believe that this is the time for us to build strong relationships and show our clients that we care. So what we have been doing as an agency is to come with ideas so that they can grow and increase sales.

I have been working with them on sales, strategy, management, ideation for free as much as possible. We have been trying to get restaurants more customers or takeaways and trying as much as we can to help these businesses. There are a lot of agencies out there who are cancelling the contracts, but we are not like that. I know this is the time that they are struggling so this is our responsibility to help them to get through it. This will also prove that we are trustworthy and one can rely on during tough times.

You mentioned that you’re trying to help restaurant owners for free without any monetary expectations, so do you think it’ll help you as a brand to stand out from your competitors?

Adam: Absolutely yes, as it shows that we care. Some of the people whom we are helping very likely when everything is normal they’ll become our client and hire us. Also, you know the other thing is that people talk, and when people talk I want them to talk about us and the positive experience which they had, how we helped them, how we served them because they will learn how much we care about them, and that they had a really great experience. And I want people to remember us as a brand that cares about their clients in every situation.

You have been helping lots of restaurant brands, so how has their attitude changed when compared with pre-COVID time?

Adam: I think people seem to be overall very caring. I think they now realise it’s very important to have a strong brand. It’s not like every restaurant that we have advised or helped has a huge success. I will be very very clear about that. The ones who haven’t performed well are the ones that haven’t got a very strong brand, fan base and haven’t got a strong message. The ones doing well are the ones that have a very strong brand and can transition into new areas quickly.

How are you going to approach restaurants post-COVID-19 for marketing and convince them to take your services?

Adam: One thing I’m not going to do is that I’m not going to convince any brand to work with us. I don’t think that’s necessary. We work on merit. A lot of other agencies like to track how many likes and followers their customers get with no view of how much money they make, but we work very differently. You cannot monetise likes and followers.

Our restaurant profit program tracks the actual profit in the bank. We have worked with restaurants and managed to get many many thousands of pounds each month in profit. If a restaurant owner gets ten times more than what they pay us each month, they’ll definitely continue to work with us.

What are the challenges you have faced while working for the F&B industry during COVID-19?

Adam: 90 percent of the restaurants here have been closed and most of our contracts which we had with restaurants have been cancelled and that affected our business drastically. And it made us realise that we need to have not just restaurants but other businesses too as our client. The contracts that we have lost will definitely come back but will focus on adding other businesses to our clientele as well. So we have realised that you cannot always rely on one business for success you have to be looking for other opportunities as well.

What is your advice for the people who want to follow entrepreneurship?

Adam: I will say just do stuff, there will be a lot of people who will tell you to read books, and they will tell you to do a course or even go to a university and learn things. Whatever it is, the thing which actually helps at the end of the day is doing something about it.

A lot of people will be scared to try things but the reality is that you have to put the work into life. A lot of people say that they have not got the time to do things, but most of the people have got the time. Most people find time to stay on social media and spend hours every evening watching Netflix, the same time can be utilised to work on a business. Nothing is ever easy and action is the key!

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