In May, we released a survey asking readers to share their experiences throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 150 respondents from all over the world answered six questions:
- How has COVID-19 affected your business?
- What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
- In what areas have you seen the most growth?
- How have you provided support to your employees?
- How else have you adapted to the changing economy?
- How can Fresh Cup best address your business needs?
So many of us are confused, struggling, and feeling hopeless. We hope these results shine a light on the current state of our industry and help us all remember that we’re not in this alone.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
Overwhelmingly (and unsurprisingly), the biggest challenge has been the loss of business. While many pivoted to boosting online sales, using third-party delivery services, and implementing takeaway-only models (refer to Graph 2 for the breakdown), these adaptations cannot make up for the drastic toll the pandemic has taken on profits.
Staffing has also become a major challenge. Many companies have had to lay off employees, in turn adding to the workload of those who were kept on (which, in some cases, is solely the owner). Those who were lucky to avoid layoffs find it challenging to ensure the health and safety of their employees, even with sanitary protocols and social distancing measures in place. Other respondents mentioned that employees who were laid off or furloughed are earning more on unemployment, making it less desirable for them to return to work.
Other common challenges respondents submitted are:
- Lack of guidance, assistance, and clarity from the government
- Uncertainty of the future making it hard to plan anything
- Customers refusing to comply with safety protocols
- Decrease in foot traffic due to business location (in/near universities, hospitals, etc.)
- Communicating with customers about whether/when business is open, how to order, safety requirements, etc.
In what areas have you seen the most growth?
How have you provided support to your employees?
More than half of the respondents are supplying their staff with PPE, including face masks and gloves.
Many wrote in other ways they were supporting their employees, including helping file for unemployment, paying health insurance through furlough, temporarily increasing pay, allowing working from home when possible, and, of course, “free coffee no matter what!”
Whether you’re tired of hearing it or not, it’s undeniable that we are all working to adapt to “the new normal.” But what exactly have our fellow peers been doing to sustain business, supplement income, and implement steps for the future?
Responses ranged from small-scale actions, like offering take-and-bake versions of goods they usually sell in-house, to a complete overhaul of their online sales systems, reflecting the forward-thinking and adaptability of our industry.
Other common answers involved setting up mobile ordering and curbside delivery/pickup; revamping digital marketing strategies; reducing menu items; and selling other products like toilet paper and cleaning essentials. Respondents also noted they were participating in more webinars and virtual events—and, of course, “lots of Zoom meetings.”
“Can anyone help now?” asked one respondent about how Fresh Cup can best support our readers moving forward.
Indeed, the future looks grim, with cases continuing to rise and the economy continuing to decline. In these times of a devastating pandemic, economic downturn, and racial injustice, what can a trade publication possibly do to help?
It begins with small steps.
The survey yielded some great suggestions, like reporting on consumer habits and trends to help businesses remain relevant; sharing stories of how other cafés and companies are finding success or new areas of growth; and providing resources relating to health and safety, customer education, and barista advocacy.
Inspired by these responses, we’re more dedicated than ever to using our platform to fight for the health and longevity of our industry, across the supply chain. Moving forward, we’ll continue to provide resources to empower your business decisions, highlight innovative ways to grow and sustain profit, and share information and inspiration to help our collective coffee and tea family through these times—and beyond.