Does Covid-19 Provide A Hidden Opportunity?

When it comes to a successful business mindset, Covid-19 can very well provide new opportunities. Two food companies battle during the Great Depression sheds light on just what kind of opportunity a crisis can give your company. One company cut budget, the other pushed aggressively, knowing its competitors were scared. The choice your company makes during the Covid-19 pandemic could very well define your company moving forward.

Kellogg's Rice Krispies 1930s box.
Retro Rice Krispies box / CC BY-SA

Most marketers know the famous Post and Kellogg’s story. In the 1920s, the USA still hadn’t embraced dry cereal, so when the Great Depression hit, strategies changed. Post pulled back their communication efforts and Kellogg’s doubled their budget. Years later, in the terrible 1933 economy, Kellogg’s profit was up 30 percent. Last year, Kellogg’s operating profit was $1.4 billion compared to Post Food’s measly $186.3 million. Kellogg’s defined the cereal category and found revenue Post had no idea existed. This opportunity is at your feet right now.

As Governors in Florida, Washington, Iowa and across the country force restaurants closed, laying off workers, hoping for the best, some companies are using this as an opportunity to get aggressive and find new opportunities. One such company is in my top 5 restaurant list, Table 128.

Table 128 Does A 180

It’s doubtful you’ve heard of Table 128 if you don’t live in central Iowa. Owned by husband and wife team, Sarah and Lynn Pritchard in Clive, Iowa, they immediately crafted a battle plan when news broke that restaurants may have to close. As Governor Reynolds of Iowa announced a mandate that all restaurants were to close on March 17th, that same day Table 128 emailed their customers announcing their plans to pivot to pre-cooked meal kit subscriptions complete with special packaging and heating instructions. It seems to be working.

Photo Courtesy Table 128

As I left with meals in hand, I overheard a server on the phone telling a customer they had sold out their first week, and they’re hoping to feed even more people this week and next as they iron out the kinks. (You can sign up here.)

As a result, co-owner Sarah Pritchard confirmed they were able to keep 2/3 of their staff working, built new skills for their employees, fed a lot of people, and most importantly, maintained revenue. They responded quickly, and likely without even knowing how they were going to pull it off. This quick decision won’t just impact the here and now, however. It will likely grow their business in ways they never even imagined.

Off-Premise Dining Was Already Growing—This Will Push It Further

In 2015, for the first time in history, Americans spent more money in restaurants than in grocery stores. In 2019 we had more restaurants in our country than ever before and it’s getting hotter. According to Cowen and Company, off-premise spending will account for as much as 80 percent of the industry’s growth in the next five years,” surpassing in-dining revenue, writes Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. Without the Covid-19 pandemic, previous business growth and innovations were already driving this trend.

Home food delivery, popularized by companies like Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash and GrubHub, are certainly helping to drive the off-premise food delivery market, but niche catering fulfillment companies like Foodee, created by Ryan Spong will truly drive the higher-end food delivery industry to new heights.

Foodee is a catering company designed to fulfill large organizations catering requests in a clever local-focused fashion. Their technology sources multiple local food vendors to fulfill single large orders.

For team-building exercises or office meetings, instead of your office administrator picking one restaurant and a limited menu, your company can pick between many. It handles specifications, dietary restrictions, and handles logistics, ensuring everything is delivered to your company simultaneously and sustainably.

The opportunity is exponentially growing and this is only the beginning.

This Global Crisis Is A Growth Catalyst

I don’t want to make light of the situation, I know there’s a strong possibility some companies will go out of business forever despite their hard work. As great business leaders innovate, however, it’s not just about survival. It’s about capturing a new market, finding new opportunities that weren’t previously there. You can survive or thrive and that choice is yours right now.

A global pandemic that seeks to do harm, may in fact, be the very catalyst that grows your business into a powerhouse, surpassing even your own wildest idea of success. A few of my clients are taking the pandemic opportunity to lean into other areas or projects they’ve been wanting to tackle. You can do this too.

As your competitors wait for good news, and hope for the best, slowing off the accelerator, right now is the time to innovate, push, and fight, opening up new opportunities you never saw before. GO! GO! GO!

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