Survival Of The Fittest – How does this apply to your restaurant?

Time has change and it has changed everything it takes to run, operate and sustain a culinary business. Gone were the days where operating a restaurant only involves the owner cooking in kitchen, paying cash in hand to their staffs, taking orders using pen and paper and settling bills using the cash register and a calculator. Every business decision from stock ordering to employee scheduling and how much each employee ‘should’ be paid was made based on the operator’s experience, industry standard and the common notion known as ‘gestimation’- guessing and estimating. Last but not least, the all time favourite ‘cash only’ sign that is usually displayed at the front of the cash register.

So what has changed in today’s world? With today’s stifling economy, high minimum wage, tight competition and over-regulation, the chances of survival for your restaurant would be zero to none if you continue with the traditional ways and methods of operating your restaurant. After spending hundreds and thousands on setting up your restaurant, you definitely would not only want to survive but to thrive in this industry. Many small business owners and operators will say that it is close to impossible to adhere to the rules and regulations and still be profitable. It is possible and here are a few top ways on how the changes that you make can have a significant impact on your business today:

1. Use data to drive profit

Your restaurant data is a goldmine that you should fully utilise to build profit for your business. Many restaurant owners find it daunting and overwhelming when it comes to data analysis, hence they never really make the effort to evolve and understand how valuable this information is. Using the available data, you will be able to make informed decisions without having to gestimate; from regular stock ordering to long term financial and investment planning for your business. The data gathered will allow you to understand your business operation costs ie where you are losing and making money, customer base and employee productivity. The data analysis will not only help you address the current and ongoing challenges that your business is facing but to also identify immediate and future opportunities to grow your business. In this fast-paced and high employee turnover industry, changes will need to be made immediately to minimize losses. When you start implementing changes based on the data gathered, you will realise the positive impact it makes to your business operation.

2. Utilise technology to transform your business operation

Technology is an absolute foodservice necessity in today’s economy. With technology, it can bring new efficiencies, opportunities and profitability in this competitive industry. In a day-to-day running of a restaurant, cost control, inventory and employee management take up the most of your time and money. In order to be efficient and profitable, you as the restaurant owner or operator should be able to spend the least time in managing these tasks so that you can focus on improving your food quality, customer service and continue to grow your business.

“You can have the most artistic chefs and the most creative food, but if you’re not financially viable, you’re not going to make it. If you do not embrace technology now and move forward, you’re going to be left behind.”

3. Cut food waste to increase profit

This is a serious phenomenon that is affecting not only the food industry but the world. Given the already slim margin in the culinary business, every effort should be made to minimise food costs and food waste. Cutting food waste is not only about optimising your inventory ordering, management and food preparation but also focuses on food sustainability. One such way is to swap your restaurant’s fresh produce to ‘ugly and imperfect’ produce; fresh produce that is aesthetically ugly but still as tasty and nutritious as perfect produce. By doing so, you are not only saving up to 30% to 50% of your produce costs but are also helping the local growers and economy.

It is important to keep evolving in this fast-paced industry to surface as a winner in today’s competitive market. As the saying goes “do not be afraid of change. You may lose something good but you will gain something better”.