Point of View

Content with a point of view from foodservice operators, dealers, consultants, service agents, manufacturers and reps.


Point of View

Where Do We Begin?

How to rebuild trust with customers in a global pandemic.

Nicholas Saccaro, President, Quest Food Management Services, Lombard, Ill.As we begin to see some cautious reopening of businesses in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, how do we bring our customers back? With occupancy and service restrictions in place in many states, every customer and every dollar matters more than ever — and yet, customers remain afraid to eat with us. So, what do we do?

Will we focus on building trust in this incredibly complex world with menu advancements, new technology, delivery to our customers or any other number of innovations? What will inspire customers to trust us?

Our industry will see a host of innovation, successful menu changes, engaging technology experiences and delivery mechanisms we’ve never seen before. The drive to be different, unique and innovative will be greater than ever. And yet, as more and more of us reopen, it will be harder to stand out in the crowd with a unique idea; others will catch up, and they’ll do it quickly.

What will bring our customers back is trust: trust in the quality of our food and the quality of our service, like always. But more than ever, they will need to trust the way in which we conduct our businesses — the care for keeping our food safe, our customers safe and our team members safe.

Regardless of how many new processes, tools and messages we put forth to help build this trust, our customers will need to trust our team members the most. Our team members’ emotions, fears and confidence (or lack thereof) in us will set the tone for how our customers feel about us.

If we want customers to trust us, we have to start by ensuring our employees trust us. If our employees don’t trust us, our customers probably won’t, either.

Our team members each have their own stories of what they’ve been through over the past few months. They’ll each have their own set of fears, worries and hopes for coming back to the workplace. We have the choice — or perhaps even the mandate — to work to build trust with our team members first to ensure their presence inspires confidence in our customers.

As you welcome your team members back, will you make it a priority to build trust with your people? Will you hear their voices in your planning and decision-making processes? Will you make communication with your team a bigger priority than ever before? People want to be heard. They need to be heard when they’re uncertain or scared.

This quote from author and public speaker Stephen M.R. Covey still rings true: “Trust is the new currency of the world today.” In today’s COVID-19 world, trust matters more than it ever has. Trust will be the currency that brings us back and sustains us, and it all starts with our employees’ trust in us.