'What Comes Next?' Independent Food and Drink Academy Discussion Group, June 2020
The event, which was facilitated by Mark Copsey from Leeds Business School, offered actionable advice for how to cope with the changes they face, and provided attendees with a safe space for discussions about plans for reopening with social distancing regulations. Luke Ribbons from The Mac Shac, a food truck company with an unapologetic passion for macaroni cheese, also provided examples of how the company have adapted with the restrictions.
Luke kicked things off. He explained to the group that The Mac Shac has had to adapt and change their focus due to the lockdown. Normally, their main business in the summer comes from festivals and outdoor events, however, this year, they have changed tac and have moved to a more permanent base. The Mac Shac have set up shop in an existing kitchen in Leeds and have started operating as a takeaway. Luke explained that they had set up processes to allow customers to pre-order and collect, or to place orders via delivery services. This approach has enabled the Mac Shac to survive through the lockdown, highlighting the adaptivity of the business. Luke also explained that instead of seeing the lockdown as an insurmountable challenge, the company took it as an opportunity to find a new slant and a new way of operating.
After a brief question and answer session with Luke, Mark Copsey then took to the ‘stage’. He based his part of the discussion on the development of a ‘framework to lift yourself above where you are now’, helping the businesses in attendance to make the most of the change in the market and build back stronger. To kick things off, the attendees discussed how to preserve their present, i.e. how to ensure that their businesses stay financially stable and are able to respond to the jobs that need to be done day to day. Next, they considered how to develop a rapid response to the changing operational climate. This, Mark explained, would allow them to identify and monitor challenges, to ensure that the business would be able to develop and deploy the required capabilities and culture changes to meet their customer’s needs. The ‘Jobs-to-be-done Needs Framework’ provided a very interesting backdrop to the discussion. Finally, the discussion moved to how to ‘own the future’. The attendees considered how to align their aspirations for the future with their current strategic focus.
We asked the attendees to provide their feedback of the session. Of those that sent us feedback, all found the event useful. Some highlighted changes that they plan to make as a result of attending the event:
- I have been thinking about how i can evolve the businesses to take advantage / adapt to the new normal. e.g. producing online training courses so that people can learn new skills while at home, on furlough, or (if about to be made redundant) waiting to land their next job
- It did give me things to think about it terms for delivery when we're up and running.
Following this first virtual event for the IFDA, we are planning to host similar events in the near future. We hope to explore how businesses are responding to the new social distancing regulations and reopening. We also hope to be able to share examples of best practice from across the sector, to ensure that the food and drink scene in Leeds can come out of this stronger than ever.