A mixed forecast as operators predict the future

April 20, 2021

Here is the good news: The workforce is returning to the office and this time it is for real. By the way, there is no bad news in all of this. Operators are finally hearing from clients about when they will return to the office – good news that cannot come soon enough.

Dust off the crystal ball

In this last article of a three-part series, I asked industry leaders to channel their intuition, to dust off their crystal ball – to predict the future of our industry.

In part one, we looked at pandemic driven technology. Operators weighed in on what worked, what will stick and how the pandemic might impact their use of technology in the post pandemic world. Comments about touch-free technology were particularly interesting.

In part two, we explored the challenges faced by operators around the country. I asked leading operators to reflect on the lessons they learned while doing business throughout the pandemic. If you missed part two, the answers were insightful and thought provoking, so check it out.

The question: where do you think the convenience services industry will be one year from now?

While this was a tough question to answer, each of these industry leaders had an opinion, often driven by the changes they have seen in past 12 months, concerns for the future and classic entrepreneurial optimism.

Dave Mandella – American Food and Vending: “We will need to make sure that we are the solution that the client turns to first.”

“I see a big rebound, but the fear I do have is that companies like goPuff, which consider themselves to be in the convenience services industry, are going to make it tough on us at times because someone can simply place an order on their app and have it quickly delivered right to the office. We will need to make sure that we are the solution that the client turns to first.”  

Arthur Siller – Evergreen Refreshments: “We have taken this time to remain innovative and focused on our clients. I am proud of that. Our industry is not one that sat idle during the pandemic.”

“One year from now, I see our industry in a much more stable place. As more people are vaccinated, more and more of our clients are going to return. We are already seeing this occur in our area and I have no doubt that the trend will continue. Our focus has been on improving our offerings, our client engagement, sales strategies and the solutions we provide.

“As for our industry as a whole – we have taken this time to remain innovative and focused on our clients. I am proud of that. Our industry is not one that sat idle during the pandemic.”

Tom Steuber – Associated Services: “I still think it is going to be 65%, 70% of 2019 levels at most. It might be higher, but that is just me being hopeful.”

…speaking specifically about revenue in the OCS market:

“I think it's going to be different in big cities like San Francisco, like New York. I am defining big cities as those that rely on public transit. I think in those cities, things are going to be rough. It might get back to 55% of what it was and that may be optimistic. In suburban rural areas where people drive, I am going to be more hopeful, but I still think it is going to be 65%, 70% of 2019 levels at most. It might be higher, but that is just me being hopeful.”

Judson Kleinman – Corporate Essentials: “We have seen it before. We are going to be fine and strong.”

“I think we are going to come back. Where people move out of offices, new companies are going to start up and move in. We have seen it before. We are going to be fine and strong. The economy was amazing for so long. If it were not for this pandemic, where would we be right now? I think we'd be humming along.”

Matthew Marsh – First Class Vending: “I think it will be back to 85% of where it was pre-pandemic, with that other 15% gone forever.”

“I think it will be back to 85% of where it was pre-pandemic, with that other 15% gone forever. That includes businesses closing and people telecommuting out of the office and not coming back to a traditional office. That is my crystal ball.”

C. J. Recher – Five Star Food Service: “With remote working, companies are going to find out it's really not as good as they thought it was in the beginning.”

“I am optimistic. Hopefully, a year from now, everybody is fully healed or at least as close to it as you can get. I know that there are a lot of folks in the large metropolitan areas, especially out west and northeast, who have just been absolutely hammered and are still struggling because most of their service points were office buildings. With remote working, companies are going to find out it's really not as good as they thought it was in the beginning. Hopefully, that will bring people back to the office.”

The roaring 20s?

Any time you need a little positive energy in your life, just give Judson Kleinman a call. He says the “Roaring 20’s” are just around the corner. A year and a half from now.

“Interest rates are low. Inflation is low. We have pumped a lot of money into the economy – printed money anyway, but I think the economy is going to come roaring back in a year,” Kleinman said.

“I think we are going to be in really good shape. Will some companies be mostly remote? Yes, they will be, but there will be new opportunities for us. We will have to get out there and go get more business. We will do it,” he continued.

“If you're an entrepreneur, you're an entrepreneur,” Kleinman summed up.

Operators and suppliers: submit your comments. Where do you think the convenience services industry will be one year from now?

Email your comments to [email protected] or call (818) 261-1758.

 ABOUT BOB TULLIO

Industry consultant and contributing editor Bob Tullio (www.tullioB2B.com) is a content specialist who advises operators in the convenience services industry on how to build a successful business from the ground up. Tullio recently launched a YouTube channel, b2b Perspective, designed to “elevate your business in two minutes” and is currently developing an online course, Leverage the power of LinkedIn to grow your business.

As he is a recognized industry expert in business development and sales, NAMA retained him to write and narrate the new online course, “Selling Convenience Services,” which is now available. Use discount code B2B10 for an instant discount and for free access to upcoming Q&A Webinars from Tullio in the coming months. Here is a free sample of the course.

About the Author

Bob Tullio

Since selling his business in January of 2017, Bob Tullio has been an active industry consultant at www.tullioB2B.com focused on content creation, strategic planning, sales training and business development. In addition to serving a growing client base, he has written over 50 columns and features, providing operators and others with an inside look at how he helped build a successful business from the ground up.

Phone: 818 261-1758

Email: [email protected]

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