Editor's note: This is Part 2 in our 25 Positive Predictions for 2022. Read Part 1 here.
Let’s start off the new year with some positivity—here are 25 ways your catering colleagues are positioning to make 2022 a healthy, prosperous, and fabulous new year.
Check back next week for another set of predictions!
8. Vijay Goel, Co-Owner/COO, Bite Catering Couture
COVID was a massive asteroid impact for our industry. So now as we mammals peek our heads out, the landscape has changed, and the dinosaurs are gone. It's a whole new ballgame and a different evolutionary landscape for those of us who are left.
COVID social distancing reminded most people how important human connections are. We are just starting to see the chaos coming from disconnected companies. The next five years will be filled with lots of people getting together and reestablishing their communities.
The chef shortage and inflationary pressure will make for a dynamic financial picture. The era of cheap BOH labor is probably over, which makes investments in productivity, operational excellence, and pricing critical in navigating the shift.
9. Thaddaeus Smith, Director of Brand Communications & Executive Chef, Sterno Products
Our business is based on people getting together—most of the products we sell are designed for people to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in buffet lines at big events such as weddings, conferences, and other big celebrations. We were coming off our strongest year ever when the pandemic hit, and boy did it hit us hard.
But we are hopeful about the future. We are looking at an increase of over 10% in sales in the foodservice industry over 2019. While a lot of that has been driven by menu price increases (so it is not really apples to apples) ...but we are looking at a strong year. We still have supply chain shortages and labor constraints, and everyone is still learning how to deal as the pandemic evolves into an endemic stage as more people get vaccinated.
The brightest spot coming out of the pandemic is that catering operations really looked at what they were doing on takeout, on delivery, on customizing their menus to accommodate customers at home and build their brand to customers they may not have had before. Our customers are saying that they were able to build relationships with customers who were buying delivery and takeout or giving them the opportunity to cater family events or weddings.
We're bullish—we think things are going to turn around because there is a pent-up demand for these events.
10. Michael Stavros, Partner/BizDev, M Culinary Concepts
We listened more actively to our company leaders and associates in 2020 and 2021—we will move forward with greater transparency and understanding in 2022. We focused efforts on helping and feeding our community—we will be committed corporate citizens with renewed civic engagement. We strengthened bonds with our clients, venues, and vendors—we will be more thoughtful and proactive partners.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then I think our industry is going to be more innovative than ever in 2022! We have learned to operate more efficiently, doing more than we ever thought possible with less of—well—everything. As supply chains gradually stabilize and prices (fingers crossed!) fall back to Earth, we will rebuild our companies, reenergize our workforces, and reignite our shared passion for all things hospitality. BRING. IT. ON.
Photo by Heidi Harris
11. Chef Gregory Taylor, CEO/Creative Director, The Black Fox Company; Executive Chef, Chef Greg Taylor & Co.
2019 was a year when many individuals established goals and set new expectations for their businesses. We all felt as if the new year would bring new business and opportunities. 2020 came and hit us like a ton of bricks and knocked everyone off their course to success. However, 2021 should have been the year that we all regained our balance and set a new focus on what our goals are. The beauty that was born from such an ugly year was the fact that we can now take those bricks that hit us, build new dreams, and set new goals.
The advantages we have today are the lessons that came with each brick. How can we better engage with our clients? How can we set up even better websites and online ordering systems? What can we do to ensure that our customers will receive a safe and healthy dining experience?
The newest trend is also the oldest and most valuable trend ever in this industry—the customer experience. I am optimistic about the future of business and the catering industry because we can finally return to creating those out-of-the-box, forward-thinking experiences that our clients are paying for. Want to be successful in 2022? Be creative. Be innovative. Remember the client!
12. Margaret Brower, Founder & CEO, Rainmaker Sales & Marketing Group, LLC
2021 put the catering world in triage mode: “How do we get to the end of the year with such severe staffing issues?” 2022 is the year we are focused on growth in every way, especially with companies of all sizes encouraging and fostering employee professional development. It is invigorating to witness how employers are looking at the experience of their staff pre- and post-pandemic and aiding them in making changes. I see the deliberate investment in the people who got them through the last two years. Companies are adding support players and sales concierge positions to manage the high demands placed on their sales managers. We are back to loving sales and the "make dreams happen" mentality in a mutually beneficial way. As Americans seek careers with a work/life balance, forward-thinking leadership teams are shifting the narrative of the hospitality lifestyle.
13. Andrew Gerstel, CEO, Windows Catering
It would be easy for me to say that one of the biggest lessons we have learned during the COVID pandemic is “cash is king” for the survival of your business. But I will go a step further and say that people and passion matter almost as much. We quickly learned that having the right people on our team, dedicated to the mission of the company, with a survivalist mentality and a passion for what we do, was going to be the key to not only getting through the pandemic but for securing our future as well. As we had several pivots to create new revenue streams for the company, we tested the creativity and adaptability of our team as well. Detailed communications and on-going training, at all levels of our organization, increased significantly during the pandemic. This renewed focus has led to a more cohesive, skilled, cross-trained and driven team.
Another important aspect of our business, that we emphasized and learned the importance of, is the relationships we have in the industry. All our vendor partners, clients, independent contractors, purveyors, and especially our bankers, were so supportive as we navigated this new world and we reciprocated and collaborated at every opportunity as well. Without these relationships, our company’s future, and the enthusiasm we have for what lies ahead, would not be nearly as great.
14. Christine Hubbard, General Manager, Colleges of the Fenway Dining
I am looking forward to continuing to learn how to adapt to new situations—and I'm looking forward to getting events back! This summer we had our first commencement ceremony in two years, and it was cool to see those students walk across stage. I'm just looking forward to our new normal.