MS: First off, how are you guys doing?! I can imagine this is a very strange and challenging time for Appetite4Work specifically.
AB: It’s definitely been a challenge! But our team has learned a lot and has done a brilliant job reacting to the changes. We’ve had a busier Q1 than we could have expected.
MS: Tell me about how you’ve reacted to the changes. How have you had to pivot to survive?
AB: Appetite4Work specialises in staffing for restaurants as well as events. Obviously in 2020, these both took massive hits. We were able to leverage our staff pool of around 450 active workers and redirect them to places that needed support - like COVID testing centers and hospitals. It’s certainly different than any year prior, but we’re grateful to have found work for so many and become unexpected ‘experts’ on these types of staffing projects.
MS: I’m sure the shift from football stadiums to test centers was quite the pivot. Do you think the hospitality industry has changed forever? If so, in what ways?
AB: One thing we’re seeing is more of a willingness from hospitality workers to engage in other types of work. Pre-COVID, if you asked a chef to do anything else besides make food, they would have told you where to go! But we’re seeing front of house managers willing to work at COVID test centers, or chefs in hospitals. It definitely speaks to the resilience of the people in the industry.
This may not have a ‘forever’ effect, but I do think many restaurants will leverage temporary staffing like they haven't before, at least while establishments get back on their feet and things re-open. The uncertainty they’ve faced in the last year has understandably created caution around hiring full time staff.
MS: Have reviews become more or less important to you throughout the pandemic, and what is the best way you’ve found to get them?
AB: Reviews have been a real focus to us for the last 2 years or so, and I’d say they’re still pretty key during the pandemic. We’ve had a system of emailing direct links to our business pages, which worked OK - but with Chalkboard we see that the texts with the link have a much higher response rate. Without being able to see people in person nearly as much, this more personal touch-point helps a lot.
MS: That’s what we like to hear! OK, last question - what change has Appetite4Work made during COVID times, that will stick around after the pandemic?
AB: We’ve realised how many things we actually don’t need to do in person. A stand out one is our new staff inductions. Instead of one on one coordination or sorting out confusing group logistics, we realised having a Zoom meeting with everyone makes our lives easier, and gets more consistent information to the new staff.
Aaron, thanks for chatting with me about Appetite4Work. We wish you continued success (and a bit less challenging 2021!).
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