When the Movement Control Order (MCO) occurred on 18th March to curb the spread of COVID-19, only essential businesses were granted permission to operate with very heavy restrictions. Within the F&B industry, only take-away and deliveries were allowed resulting in severely impacted businesses in restaurants. We at Co-labs Coworking wanted to give the opportunity to F&B owners to share their entrepreneurial experience during the pandemic thus we hosted our second rendition of LabFam Chats hosted live on 28th April 2020 called LabFam Chats: Reshaping the F&B industry during COVID-19.
The three key figures consisted of Renyi Chin, Founder and Managing Director of myBurgerLab, purveyor of the best burger in town, Rashdan Othman, Director of Operations at San Francisco Coffee, a true coffee connoisseur with over 20 years of experience in the industry, and Yuet Kim Lim, Founder of PichaEats, a social enterprise that delivers food made by families from marginalized groups. The session was moderated by Razif Hashim, a familiar face in the film and television scene, and Founder of Wayang Kitchen, an interactive gastronomic experience.
Breaking the ice, moderator Razif started the session by asking the panel on their focus and best marketing practices during the MCO especially with the abrupt change of business norms. Both Rashdan and Renyi agreed that they have been receiving positive feedback by having to venture into e-commerce.
“We literally tried everything under the sun; from having frozen product marts, home kits, four collaborative efforts with different restaurants, 30 unofficial online franchises through a Nintendo Switch game called Animal Crossing,” shared by Renyi from myBurgerLab.
As for Kim, PichaEats’ core business has always been catering focusing their efforts on B2B channels, however, throughout the MCO, the company decided to minimize their usual selling quantities, focusing more on the B2C channels opening up more opportunities for their online engagements to stay relevant.
“During this period, we have been actively engaging the community via our social media platform by staying relevant with people,” expressed Kim.
An audience asked the panel on the practice of social distancing throughout food preparation. Rashdan shared that the company has enforced strict social distancing within its staff which resulted in an increased standard of hygiene and adapted contactless transactions.
“We try to avoid overlapping of staff, change of shifts is done immediately and also cutting down working hours in a week,” shared by Rashdan from San Francisco Coffee & Co.
Kim from PichaEats shared that food is all prepared by the refugees from the comfort of their homes. Precautionary measures are more focused on the delivery process as drivers engaged are from the external fleet ensuring that the drivers sanitize their cars and wear masks and gloves.
Similarly, Renyi added that temperature checks are done daily. Should any staff experience the slightest of COVID-19 symptoms would be sent home immediately.
Watch the full replay here to learn more about the panel’s marketing strategies, how they tackle cash flow, and how they revise SOPs to adapt to the “new norm”.