From the Editor – Extreme Measures

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It’s a new year with the operative word being new: a new page to turn; a new year to unfold; new ideas to shape into a new reality for everyone.

It’s a new year with the operative word being new: a new page to turn; a new year to unfold; new ideas to shape into a new reality for everyone. As 2008 came to a close, many were happy to see it end. Though the year began on a positive note, by the time December bid farewell, storm clouds had surfaced with the expectation that 2009 would be a tough year for many.

Most of us may not remember the Great Depression, but we do recall the recessions of 1981 and 1991. And chances are we will be hit by additional recessions in our lifetime. Like the seasons, the economy is cyclical and good times usually follow the not so good. Many pundits agree this economic downturnmay be different fromthose in the ’80s and ’90s. As B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell was reported saying a couple of months ago in The Globe and Mail, “People want to say that what’s going on is a perfect storm. It’s not a perfect storm. It’s a seismic shift. An earthquake has hit our global economy and everyone is dying for things to be the same and it’s never going to be the same again.”

It’s a sentiment echoed in a recent BusinessWeek story called “Enough Shock Treatment?” by Peter Coy. In it, he says: “For more than six decades, through all the shocks and terrorist attacks, the world’s advanced economies have managed to expand their collective output a little bit each year. But that long lucky streak is probably about to end, a victim of the severe global credit crunch.”

The world has changed dramatically. And more than ever, we’re inexorably linked together. What happens in faraway places has ripple effects around the world, and we’re affected by those outcomes. Technology has brought us closer, and it’s changed the way we do business as well. One can only dream of the changes that will be foisted upon us in the future.

But rather than fear change, we should embrace it, and look upon it as providing new avenues for growth. Like those in many other industries, foodservice operators worry the economic downturn willmean reduced sales and casualties, and thatmay be the case. But while wemay not be able to stave off this recession, we do have the power to change the way we run our individual businesses. It’s easy to continue to do the same things when business is good. (If it ain’t broke, why fix it?) But these days it seems everything is broken ‒s whether we’re talking about banking institutions, the automotive industry or tourism. Let’s not be naïve by thinking it’s only other industries that are in dire straits. There’s much that can be improved right in our own backyards, and tough times require innovative solutions.

For the foodservice industry, what better time is there than the dead of winter, when business is slow, to be reflective and truly analyze your business.What needs to be changed? What can be improved? Are you doing the best job possible with the resources you have? Are you targeting the right demographic? Are you offering your customers something they can’t get anywhere else?What is your competition doing better than you?

“During challenging economic times it is critical that companies do their utmost to retain their existing customer base,” says Thomas Stirr, a management consultant with Thomas-Ritt Associates in Oakville,Ont.“Whilemacroeconomics will probably exert some downward pressure on your pricing, your customers will stay with you as long as your prices remain competitive and you provide them with the best service. Twenty years ago customers would accept an ‘either/or’ approach… either competitive prices, or great service. Today they expect both. Getting ongoing feedback from your customers is absolutely critical to retaining their business. You can’t afford for even the smallest issue to give them a reason to try one of your competitors.”

As Premier Campbell says, “…the tendency will be to say ‘how do we get back to where we were before.’ There is no before anymore. It’s always going to have to be about the future.” And for all of us, the future is now.

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Rosanna Caira is the editor and publisher of Kostuch Media’s Foodservice and Hospitality, and Hotelier magazines. In her capacity as editor of Canada’s two leading hospitality publications, Rosanna directs the editorial and graphic content of both publications, and is responsible for the editorial vision of the magazines, its five websites as well as the varied tertiary products including e-newsletters, supplements and special projects. In addition to her editorial duties, Rosanna also serves as publisher of the company, directing the strategic development of the Sales and Marketing, Production and Circulation departments. Rosanna is the face of the magazines, representing the publications at industry functions and speaking engagements. She serves on various committees and Boards, including the Board of Directors of the Canadian Hospitality Foundation. She is a recipient of the Ontario Hostelry’s Gold Award in the media category. In 2006, Rosanna was voted one of the 32 most successful women of Italian heritage in Canada. Rosanna is a graduate of Toronto’s York University, where she obtained a BA degree in English literature.

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