At the end of each year, there’s a flood of food trend surveys, and you may be wondering about nutella (wasn’t that 2016?), burgers (timeless, not trendy), vegan (essential) and a whole lot more. Step off the trend treadmill, and let’s put the industry changes into a series of directions or themes – areas where it’s vital that you stay ahead and keep improving your business. Standing still is not an option.
- Collecting Customers – detailed information about current and future customers is ever more important, and trend-setting operators use new methods to do this. They build on the solid foundation of email, and add personalised campaigns for different groups of Facebook fans. Or run Instagram competitions to reach young mums or food-loving singles they are chasing. They also see the value in live events and ticket sales – serving up food and experiences to passionate people, and bringing them back for more.
- New Profit Channels – there are many questions about the real profits from delivery services. Handing over 35% to UberEats or Deliveroo doesn’t leave much to cover costs and profits. But demand is soaring, and the extra sales are there – you’re absolutely on-trend when you experiment with the best way to take orders, organise delivery and keep the customer’s details all to yourself. Explore white-label delivery apps like Foodstorm or OrderUp, and special deals with couriers for catering. Or maybe your own app and a fast-service window for regular take-aways service.
- Tighter Control of the Numbers – the leading businesses in 2019 will have instant access to sales, wages and purchasing data, and they use it. This is low-cost technology available for everyone. 2017 was the year for online bookkeeping, roster systems, a better POS and booking apps. This is the year for integrating them into an easily-managed whole. Start by feeding them all into your Xero or MYOB system – sales, purchasing and wages to create a powerful dashboard. Don’t fear your numbers, bring them under control.
- Simplify for Efficiency. What processes can be done more quickly, with fewer phone calls, fewer moving parts, and less need for skilled staff? This is not about dumbing-down or going back to pen and paper. Simplify rostering with online systems like Tanda and Deputy – more control and an instant review of wage costs. Simplify food costs with software that gives you control of recipes, menus and ordering – check Cooking the Books, Ordermentum and Hospitality Genie. Make it easy for customers to book online, and send them reminders and messages. A simple and effective website has the phone number, hours of opening and address – are they easy to find? And ask your staff what they think could be simplified – they’ll have plenty of ideas.
- Great Flavours and Ingredients – whether it’s kale or cardamom, corn-fed chicken or vegan burgers, our Aussie customers love bright, strong flavours. Extra spicy, chilli options, smoky meats and char-grilled corn. Or single-origin chocolate and local mascarpone – yes please! With recent surveys showing about 1 in 10 Aussies are mostly vegetarian, vegetables at the centre with optional meat is a smart move, and if meat is your proud offering, boast about the origins and flavour profile.
People also have questions – where are the mussels from, what’s sugar-free, and how did you make the amazing lemon cake? All staff should be able to answer, and your website will be full of information. If a question keeps recurring, it might hint at a new offer – lactose-free milk anyone?