8 Everyday Problems that the Food Service Industry Contend With!

Wednesday, 12 August, 2015

Do you feel your restaurant, café, bakery or hotel could be running better than it could? In this article we list seven of the most common problem food businesses face and how you can develop strategies to overcome these problems.

Do you feel your restaurant, café, bakery or hotel could be running better than it could?

In this article we list seven of the most common problem food businesses face and how you can develop strategies to overcome these problems.

Common Problem #1: Your Menu

A great menu is a real balancing act.  One of the most common mistakes any hospitality business makes is with the way they position their menu.

Is your menu up to scratch? Consider the possibilities below:

Large menus:

  • It can take consumers longer to order.
  • You’re additionally required to purchase more ingredients.
  • Creates longer ticket times in the kitchen.
  • Each table takes longer to serve, and potentially resulting in a slower turnover rate with Chefs falling over each other.

Bringing the best out in your menu:

  • Ensure your menu is easily readable
  • Avoid using dollar signs.
  • Make your menu a tour for customers. A copywriter can produce a compelling menu, leaving consumers mouths watering!
  • Make sure your menus are always clean – no food splotches or grease.  Replace damaged menus, don’t use white out or mark out mistakes or changes
  • Make sure staff know the menu & can answer questions on recommendations.


Include the menu on your website and ensure it’s easily navigated from a mobile phone device. Customers that haven’t experienced your hospitality before will look you up.


Common Problem #2: Customer Service & Interaction

First impressions are crucial in making your business memorable.  Poor service can make great food and its surroundings redundant.

In contrast, a satisfied customer will return to your establishment and also recommend you to other customers.


Common Problem #3: A Unique Selling Point (USP)

Ask yourself the question: “Why should customers dine at my restaurant and not the restaurant next door?”

A fantastic menu and excellent customer service are essential to the success of your business, BUT they are not a unique selling point. These are just minimal requirements.

An innovative idea & reason for customers to repeatedly return to your restaurant is a necessity.


Common Problem #4: Operations

Managing the ‘basics’ of your business is critical to the businesses’ profitably. However, focusing on the basics can result in many small restaurants not paying attention to the following items as they manage the day-to-day operation of their restaurant:

  • How many customers are you serving each day.
  • Keep track of what sell and what doesn’t sell – if it’s not selling a minimum number per day then take it off the menu.
  • Do you know what your most profitable menu items are? Are these selling more than the least profitable?
  • What is your profit and loss for each week you are open?

If you know the answer to these questions then this will make the decisions easier and benefit the success of your business.


Common Problem #5: Staff

Supporting and retaining employees can save your business time and money, as well as keeping valuable skills that may be difficult to replace.

Top Five Tips in retaining hospitality staff:

  1. Be firm, fair and flexible – staff need to know what your minimum expectations of them are from day one. Be flexible - this industry has odd hours so staff need normality some weekends as well.
  2. Lead by example – show leadership, integrity and maturity at all times.
  3. Review and reward – staff reviewal regularly, implement staff bonus and rewards.
  4. Communication – communication is vital to any relationship and your communication with staff is no exception.
  5. Give feedback - good or bad feedback is important to staff and constructive, meaningful and real feedback will do amazing things for your staff and lead to improved work performance.

Remember: When you put great emphasis on your staff, you’ll reduce costs over time and enhance your diners’ customer service experience..


Common Problem #6: Marketing

Marketing is all about the engagement between you and your customers. A great marketing plan can do wonders for a business.

Some simple steps that can help you in developing a marketing strategy or plan include:

  • Firstly, create a marketing plan – set yourself a goal on what you want to achieve and make it specific (SMART).  It should be short term, 6 to 12 months to begin with.
  • Formalise your brand standards. This includes mission statement, logo, graphics, guidelines, etc.
  • Think Digital’. Social Media and Websites are essential.
  • Respond to comments on review sites.
  • Network within your community and businesses in the area – they can help you with spreading the word.

 Be creative with your marketing. Whatever your budget, there are inexpensive ways to market your restaurant.


Common Problem #7: Cash Flow

Cash flow is like the life line of your business. If your business is suffering from poor cash flow then here are a few things that you could look at:

  • Make sure you're getting the most from your menu: if you feel prices are too cheap or that you can get more from some of your products, increase the price.
  • Stock and work-in-progress: manage your stock and ensure you have a rotation method to reduce wastage.
  • Budgeting and management reporting: also really important when it comes to managing cash flow.

Owners should plan to have at least enough money to run for one year. Additionally, restaurant owners need to have enough financial resources to cope with unexpected costs and increases.


Common Problem #8: Balance

Finding a happy work life balance is very difficult when owning your own business, finding the time to do the ordering, financials, rosters, menu changes, marketing and dealing with the day to day isn’t easy – so what can be done to ensure you have this happy medium?

  • Planning – get a weekly routine so that people know where and when you going to be in or out.  This way when you’re in, you’re in.  When you’re out – call if it’s urgent!
  • Prioritising – set yourself lists of what’s important and get these done first.  Most of the time, the non-important stuff gets done before the important stuff.
  • Delegating responsibilities – train your staff and allocate them responsibilities.  Not only does it take the workload off from you but it gives them something to learn and a sense of importance.

Being as organised as possible is the most important factor so that every minute you in the business you in the business then when you’re not there you can relax and enjoy the time away to switch off.