INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
The Events and Catering Sector in the Pandemic and Beyond – An Insider’s View
We talked to Emma Greenfield of Quick Buffet about the catering sector, and she had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Emma Greenfield: The family, both personal and at Quick Buffet, are doing great. We have strived in the new normal despite the challenges that we are all faced. We send our greetings to everyone still in there and hopeful of the recovery that is sure on its way.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Quick Buffet.
Emma Greenfield: I have a background in events and tourism. I am currently a Ph.D. Researcher at the University of Salford, with my research, focused on the impact of the pandemic on the tourism and events sector. This is mainly targeted at decision-makers. Before that, I have run various catering and events businesses, including the nationwide catering service Benons Catering. Part of my background is set in running various coffee shops during the 2000s. This equipped me with the skill set required to set something that can bring the events sector from someone like-minded. Having studied my masters in project management, I figured a lot of market places for the events and tourism sector are by tech people. Therefore, this was my effort to bring something to the fore that is unique in the way it’s thought about, particularly the processes that don’t seem to be addressed in the many marketplaces out there.
How does Quick Buffet innovate?
Emma Greenfield: We innovate by looking at the entire production process of the events and catering sector. We understand this process, having been involved in it for a number of years. Once we have the processes or how they’re changing (something we keep a close eye on by ourselves staying in business), we work out modalities of how these can be implemented as part of new innovation. For example, much of what we do in the sector involves filling in paperwork relating to the various customers we deal with. This is not a particular expertise area for many in the sector. This means new processes are needed that do not necessarily involve unnecessary hiring but a technological process that limits this unproductive time for many in the sector. This has meant that we develop interoperable solutions with real-time synchronization for ordering and invoicing between the customer and production processes.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Emma Greenfield: The coronavirus has basically brought a halt to activities in the events and catering sector overnight. We have sadly seen many lives and livelihoods disrupted as a result of the pandemic. We first and foremost extend our sympathies to all those affected. As they have been affected, so have we. Thankfully, this lull time has allowed us to think even deeper about somethings we could be doing. We have, therefore, continued to improve many aspects of our marketplace’s performance and operation. This has meant an upgrade in code, upgrades in modules, and improved synchronization of processes. In this regard, we are coping fine. The financial side is where things have been and continue to be tough, but thankfully, the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to appear.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Emma Greenfield: The pandemic has meant everyone in our sector adjusts. Difficult decisions have had to be made. Only today we have been reminded in the news of the effect of the pandemic on this sector. 300,000 job losses since march is not something this sector has been used to, not even following the 2008 financial crash, in such a space of time. We have had to think out partnerships, particularly from a development perspective. These have had to be adjusted to take into account the new normal. This has meant reducing the number of development hours as well as adjusting costs for these. This is hopefully something we can reverse as the sector picks up later in 2021.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Quick Buffet in the future?
Emma Greenfield: Innovation is an area of constant pace and, therefore, stress. We address this through continuing liaison and team meetings (albeit virtually some times). This hopefully keeps our spirits up. We have had moments when the pressure has gotten to some members, but thankfully, this hasn’t blown out of proportion. Keeping this way can hopefully see us through this understandably tough phase of nearly all businesses in our sector.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Emma Greenfield: We have a number of competitors, mainly Poptop U.K and Add to Event for events concierge. These are, however, technologies set up by techies to so so. While we thrive on our technologically advanced team, our background in the sector means we will be much more agile when there are process changes in the way the sector copes with the recovery. Being nimble and privately owned and operated, unlike our competitors, means that we have better systems and processes to ensure financial performance as well as agility in being responsive to changes in the sector.
Your final thoughts?
Emma Greenfield: We extend our utmost thanks to all our current users and future ones too. We hope this pandemic is over soon enough to have the greatest summer of all times, catch up on old times and see those communities and families come together as one. We are not there yet, but we can now at least start to be hopeful in the future of this sector. It has been a bumpy ride, but we’re near the end of the waves.
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