The workforce shortage in the hospitality industry is well known. These challenges are not unique to hospitality as eight of Washington state’s 15 major employment sectors are experiencing pre-pandemic staffing levels.
Transportation and warehousing employment levels are also down, which may also have a direct impact on your business.
The Washington Hospitality Association was informed late last week that a major food supplier would be discontinuing delivery service to nearly 500 Southwest Washington restaurants. Other major food suppliers — also facing similar staffing shortages — have indicated they are not able to take on new clients at this time.
These food delivery service disruptions will have a disproportionate impact on smaller operations, especially those in rural areas. While the association is only aware of the current delivery disruptions in SW Washington, other cities and regions could face similar situations soon.
What should you do?
There are several factors contributing to the current labor shortage in hospitality and other sectors. Most projections show a full recovery could take a few years to achieve. Unfortunately, there aren’t many viable and immediate solutions to fix the large-scale problem. However, here are a few ideas you can consider for potential disruptions down the road:
- Contact your supplier to see if there are any potential changes in the works for your delivery service. Suppliers may be developing new minimum delivery standards to continue service.
- Consolidate your delivery orders. Food suppliers are primarily looking at their smallest deliveries when making decisions on where to cut back. If you are splitting your food deliveries between multiple vendors, consolidating your orders through a single vendor may increase your chances of continuing to receive service.
- Think creatively of potential solutions such as partnering with neighboring restaurants on food orders and exploring online retail delivery options.
- Have Plans B and C ready to activate at any moment. While we hope to get more advance notice that we can pass along if there are any additional supplier issues around the corner, that may not happen. Operators should make contingency plans now for unexpected supply changes down the road.
This is a developing issue. The association will watch out for new developments and will pass those along to members.
Are you experiencing any supply chain issues? Have you found ways to solve these challenges? If so, we’d like to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.