President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order to strengthen his “Buy American” provisions. A statement from the Biden Administration said the order ensures “that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American-made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts.” For American hospitality organizations, Biden’s Buy American provision is an opportunity to take advantage of potential new business.
When federal employees travel, they will need to prioritize staying at American-owned lodging establishments. Additionally, hotels are being considered as potential COVID-19 vaccine distribution centers, opening up another opportunity for federal spending. Restaurants and catering companies can also be considered for federal projects.
To successfully leverage opportunities created by federal spending, hospitality companies must be prepared for fluctuations in business based on government needs. But without a prepared employee staff and sound operational logistics, hospitality organizations could squander a valuable revenue generator.
The trials and tribulations of new business opportunities
There’s no question that federal spending can inject much-needed new business into the hospitality industry. However, ramping operations back up will pose a challenge since many hospitality businesses were hit hard during the pandemic.
A boost in business from federal government projects means hospitality organizations will need to swiftly execute operations in reaction to these opportunities. This process will involve hiring and training staff in an efficient manner, accounting for proper COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and ensuring operations run smoothly through it all.
Furthermore, after nearly a year into the pandemic, businesses can no longer rely on temporary and haphazard operational protocols. Consumers — federal customers included — have adapted to the pandemic-era customer experience. And now, 80% of consumers say they expect excellent customer service during the pandemic.
The bottom line: The hospitality sector must provide excellent service to their federal government customers — on top of regular patrons — to ensure these opportunities continue. And to do so, businesses must double down on preparation.
Get Ready in Four Steps
Preparing for new federal business opportunities doesn’t need to be complicated. By leveraging technology as well as prioritizing employee engagement and training, you can ensure operational excellence for any influxes in business from President Biden’s Buy American order. Here are a few steps you can take:
1. Set up a digital workplace
Communication is critical for preparation in the pandemic age. Digital technology allows for scaled communication to a large number of employees and gives your company a remote way to safely engage staff.
An effective tool for digital employee communication is a digital workplace platform — an online social network that virtually connects all of your frontline employees through a mobile smartphone or on the web. With a digital workplace platform, you have a single, convenient way to engage employees at scale. A unified place for communication ensures all employees are on the same page and provides an easy method to send out company messaging.
2. Create digital training materials
How much business the hospitality industry receives currently depends on regulatory shifts (e.g., travel orders, capacity allowed in a restaurant, etc.). Business demands will likely continue to fluctuate for the foreseeable future, especially with influxes of federal spending, so it’s vital to have a training program that can quickly and efficiently educate employees when needed.
Field a training program through your digital workplace platform by uploading training modules, videos and sessions for all employees to access. This feature also enables employees to conduct training at home before they begin working on site, providing a safe way to complete required training without crowded group meetings. A robust training program will also help your employees stay up to date on evolving health and safety protocols as the pandemic continues.
3. Use digital task management.
Pandemic-induced regulations require businesses to adhere to specific health and safety procedures. To ensure your employees properly follow these standards, leverage your digital workplace platform for task management.
For example, hotels can create checklists to help employees maintain proper sanitation procedures. Or restaurants can upload their social distancing policy so employees can easily access it when setting up dining arrangements. Contactless check-in features are also helpful. Employees can use a digital time-punch clock, eliminating the need to crowd around a physical one. You can also have employees fill out a pre-shift health check questionnaire on the workplace platform to minimize potential health risks.
4. Encourage internal employee communication
Employee engagement can’t be overlooked as business picks back up. Workers will be reacting to evolving policies and protocols, which impact their own health and safety.
To continually improve processes during the pandemic and beyond, empower employees to communicate with each other on best work practices and keep leadership accountable by asking questions. You can help facilitate discussion by creating dedicated employee communication channels on your workplace platform. You can also provide a channel for employees to submit questions for leadership and field surveys to employees to gauge their feelings on the workplace environment.
President Biden’s Buy American provision, along with the continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, offers much-needed encouragement across sectors. The hospitality industry still has a long way to go before it can return to pre-pandemic levels of business. But these movements give hotels, restaurants and other companies in the sector an opportunity to do even more great work and improve business processes along the way. By using an online workplace, taking advantage of its capabilities and prioritizing employee engagement, you can help your business seize opportunities from the Buy American provision.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a dynamic sales professional with experience driving strong solutions for the customers by working hand-in-hand with the product, Will excels at developing customer relationships and brings to WorkJam fifteen years of deep domain expertise in Strategic Workforce Management, Human Capital Management, and Employee Engagement. Prior to joining WorkJam, Will held roles at Kronos for ten years, serving as Director of National Accounts and Director of Retail and Hospitality Sales in the U.S.