19- Mar2020
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Posted By: Tracy Lawler

Finding the New Normal

As I stand in my home office on March 18 (I have a standing desk), I look outside and see signs of spring which provides some hope. The last two weeks in the US, and the weeks before throughout the world have ushered in a pandemic with dire health and economic consequences unlike anything most of us have experienced in our lifetime. We have all lived through tragic times on a localized and limited basis; a hurricane which causes major damage to a particular city or swath of a state. This, of course, is mind bogglingly different. The very large majority of the world population is impacted in a very meaningful way and in need of assistance. Large private companies, who might have previously been able to assist, are reeling themselves. And yet, my entire team continues working from New York to Los Angeles and is busy on pop up support calls with clients and ongoing projects. As I try to wrap my brain around what the “new normal” might be and when it might occur, I have a host of questions on my mind which I know many of my clients are thinking about too:

  • How are hospitality providers dealing with employees?
  • Are employees of our onsite shuttered cafés being paid? If so by who and for how long?
  • Is there a norm when it comes to these compensation questions for a contract operated outlet?
  • How will these shutdowns impact benefits eligibility?
  • Can these employee’s skills be deployed elsewhere in a creative and productive manner?
  • Will proposals on the table with a significant investment component still stand?
  • How will the ability of caterers, food service providers and others to invest in future projects be impacted?
  • What will be the impact to projects underway?
  • Will donors start backing out of major projects?
  • How will institutional earned income from food services be impacted in the short term? Midterm?
  • Should institutions anticipate food service providers to seek contract renegotiation as a result of financial suffering? What are some mitigation strategies?
  • When will people feel comfortable attending events?
  • How will this change the event market?
  • What changes do we need to consider for our internal contracts and policies in light of the pandemic?

As I write this, I have some ideas with respect to the above and am actively having conversations with many industry colleagues on others. We have always advocated for a collaborative relationship between clients and their food service vendors; in the coming months I predict that will be more important than ever. We are open for business and here to support clients and others in any way we can. Please reach out at any time and I look forward to connecting in person once this crisis has passed.

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