As Simon Sinek recently said, "If you think you're going to do the same job, and you're waiting, that ship has sailed. The opportunity is 'What will we be?,' not 'How will we preserve what we had?'"
For many businesses, though, reinvention must start with simply being able to reopen. That's especially true for businesses that interact with customers in person -- or for businesses where social gathering is inherent.
And, in this case, fast-food restaurants like McDonald's.
Yesterday, McDonald's announced that the following changes will be in place at all restaurants -- whether franchises or company-operated -- when dine-in areas reopen.
Child play areas will be closed. Workers will wear masks and gloves, and restaurants will provide masks to customers in localities where face protection is required. (I'm not sure how people will eat while wearing a mask, but, hey: A for effort.)
Seating will be blocked off to create more distance between tables. Cash register barriers and floor stickers showing appropriate distancing for those in line will remain.
Drink stations will be closed, hand sanitizer stations will be in place, and workers will have to wash their hands at least once per hour (which doesn't sound particularly frequent, but then again: gloves).
Employees will conduct "more frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces, including tables." And restaurants will post signs saying, "This table has been cleaned and sanitized for your enjoyment" or "We'll be right back to clean and sanitize this table." (Should be easy to predict which table customers will choose.)
Those changes are part of a broader effort McDonald's has undertaken. To date, over 50 process changes have been implemented, and according to McDonald's USA president Joe Erlinger, the senior leadership meets three times a day to evaluate and adjust plans.
This, of course, makes sense. Ninety percent of McDonald's sales now come from drive-thru customers; pre-crisis, drive-thru accounted for approximately two-thirds of total sales. Reopening dining areas, especially in an industry where margins are tight, is critical.
But the changes McDonald's will make to its dining rooms will come at a cost. Less seating means fewer customers. More frequent cleaning means additional labor expense.
According to CEO Chris Kempczinski, "The world is going to look different coming out of this crisis, and we expect that many of those changes are going to be enduring."
That's why some franchisees are currently evaluating whether sticking to a limited menu even after the crisis passes makes sense. Fewer menu items naturally improves supply chain and labor efficiency; it's a lot simpler to make, say, 30 items than it is to make 50.
And that's why, if you're not already, you should be thinking about what you will be, not how you'll get back to what you "were."
Customer intentions have already changed. Customer needs, wants, expectations--they've already changed.
As Inc. colleague Chris Matysczyk says, "It's inevitable that many people will reassess the experiences they have with brands and readjust their needs for those particular brands."
To stand out and differentiate yourself, your small business will need to match or exceed what larger businesses do. To establish a competitive advantage, you'll need to go beyond what larger businesses do. In safety. Or quality. Or service. Or convenience.
Your customers have already changed, but that's not a problem.
That's an opportunity.
As long as your business changes with them.