By Trevor MacKenzie
Restaurateur and CEO of Mango Tree, Trevor MacKenzie, has a message of positivity for those in the food and beverage industry and beyond during one of the most challenging economic periods in living history
So let me start by saying it gets better! And it truly does. And that is saying it from the perspective of someone with over 30 years of being an entrepreneur and having presided over 20 openings in the restaurant business. I have never faced anything like this either, but I still want to say that things will get better.
We can look at a situation as a disaster, as or we choose to look at it as a temporary reset. A ‘bigger picture’ mindset can be a useful coping mechanism, but also a genuine opportunity to stop for a moment and to consider where humanity is going and how frenzied we have become in our lives.
You may be wondering why I am so positive in a time like this. Well, there are a few reasons. One is that at the time of writing, in East Asia, we have already been going through this for around nine weeks.
There is a cautious feeling that we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel even despite a second wave of new cases with people returning to Asia from places that are now getting infected.
In China, restaurants have been slowly reopening, including Mango Tree. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, we got positive news that our Mango Trees are seeing sales start to climb 5 - 10 percent week on week.
Landlords have realised that they have to help operators survive by implementing drastic rental reductions. They understand that they can either choose to work together or have spaces empty for a long time afterwards.
In other places where we have Mango Tree (MT), such as in the Philippines, we closed everything for 30 days as a directive form the government.
Our MT franchise partners have no rental, no food cost, no day-to-day operational costs and so cash losses are minimised, which is positive for when we eventually get back on our feet.
In Dubai, similar to our home in Thailand, restaurants stayed open with measures for distancing, before ultimately closing for home delivery only. In Thailand, we have been launching takeaway promotions for $2, which are more about helping people than making big money, but helps us in creating cashflow to be able to pay employees.
Every single person in the world will be affected financially and will need to play their part to help. We cannot expect government to do it all for us and in many countries governments are not set up this way. However, let’s hope that governments learn from this to create stronger support systems for the future.
As we are seeing temporary closures in our restaurants worldwide, our HQ workload has substantially reduced, so we have taken this opportunity to review our foundations and make them stronger and better.
From online training to teaching our partners about new ways to generate revenue , to strengthening our online presence and delivery models, there is plenty to focus on, and that must be true of most businesses and industries.
This completely unexpected situation has forced us to look at things in a new way, and has forced all of us to rethink how we will go forward after this crisis.
I was recently inspired by the New York mayor’s speech where he said, “It is time for people to stand up and be leaders, lead by example, lead in helping those who may be caught in fear, to be calm, lead in comforting others, in knowing that they will be ok and that we will get through this all together.”
My business coach reminded me recently about the importance of meaning and how it has become the new currency.
When we do meaningful things in the world, society, community, and even in our own home, it is worth much more than money, and we should not place a value on something like meaning or contribution. I think we should all act as leaders now and think how we can each contribute and add value in the situation we are in now.
It inspired me so much that I felt compelled to adopt a similar approach. I am usually a positive person who can find the good in every situation, and I’ve been doing my best to inspire our franchise partners – to communicate with their communities and to find small ways to do good things to make everyone feel a bit better.
When we feel better, when we are not in fear, we have the strength to endure, and endurance is important right now.