You Don't Have a Crystal Ball, But...

I was reading an article recently about a difficult situation many table service restaurants are facing during this time of COVID. Actually, this is just one of the MANY difficult situations these restaurants face. Because numerous cities and towns have implemented bans on indoor dining, restaurants are adding or expanding outdoor seating capacity, along with pickup and delivery options. But outdoor seating is posing a problem for some of these restaurants – the cold weather. 

The solution, of course, is to provide commercial patio heaters to keep diners warm. The problem, of course, is that there is a scarcity of available heaters. Some forward-thinking restaurant owners snatched up as many heaters as they could before the weather turned cold, leaving the stragglers to scrounge for anything they could find, which in many cases was nothing. These stragglers were literally left out in the cold.

This restaurant situation reminded me of the challenges faced by those in my business (speaking and training) when everything transitioned from in-person events to nearly 100% virtual events when COVID hit. There was a sudden demand for high quality webcams, microphones, green screen equipment, speedier computers, etc. The wait times for some of these items went from two days to three months almost overnight. Frustration levels were high, and prices were even higher. 

I was fortunate to have conducted many virtual presentations pre-COVID, and had put together a fairly robust video studio with quality equipment. I knew that demand for virtual options would only increase in the future. So, while I certainly didn’t see COVID coming and was just as shocked as anyone, I WAS able to immediately let clients know I was prepared to pivot from mostly live presentations to virtual options. I was able to “stay in the game” because of earlier decisions (and a good dose of luck). 

No one can predict the future with absolute certainty, but we can give it our best shot. While it would have been nearly impossible to predict the onslaught of COVID-19, it was and is possible to predict some of its ramifications and plan accordingly. What do you see coming in the next 6-9 months that will affect your business? You don’t have a crystal ball, but you DO have information resources such as The Wall Street Journal, industry publications, and your own observations. Of course you have to make your own decisions, but there is information out there to help you make informed decisions. 

What hiring and training needs should you be preparing for now? What product mix changes will be driven by expanding availability of the COVID vaccines? What supplier and vendor relationships should you be nurturing right now so that you’re positioned for success in the coming months? What office space considerations should you focus on now so that you’re not scrambling when employees start returning to the office? You get the idea. 

I’d suggest you sit down with a legal pad and start a list of what you think could be happening in the next 6-9 months that will affect your business. Then prioritize actions you can take now to prepare. Not that you can or should do everything on your list, but being prepared for the most likely scenarios is certainly good business and will bring some peace of mind

Here’s something to think about: What should you focus on now so that you’re not playing catch-up in the future?