Hospitality can be tough – running a thriving business in the sector is certainly not easy. So, what are the keys to a success in the hospitality industry? We’ve looked at some of the best and found seven things they have in common.
- Understand your numbers – yes, hospitality is about great food and service, but it’s also about the hard-nosed reality of running a business. Passion, commitment and skill are essential, but need to be paired sound business management. Chef and business owner Shane Delia, puts this into practice in his highly successful Melbourne restaurant Maha;” We rely on the numbers. We need to know what is happening with our business at any particular time so we can continue to perform at an optimum level. If we don’t know what is happening on the floor with our customers and at the backend we simply won’t be sustainable and won’t be able to compete”. Understanding your numbers means having data about every element that contributes to the profit of your business; the cost of each menu item, your wages, your inventory, third party services.
- Build customer advocacy – advocates are those customers who love what you do and actively go out and tell others about it. They are your best form of marketing. To build advocacy, you need to understand exactly what your customers want and deliver it. Simple to say, much harder to do. Loyalty programs can help you profile your customers’ behaviours and gain insights to deliver tailored, personalised service that makes them feel special and keeps them coming back. For Nando’s, their loyalty program is at the heart of their program to retain their large base of loyal customers highlighting their “customer focus and commitment to continual innovation’.
- Streamline your processes – it’s not enough to ‘do it this way because we’ve always done it this way’ or ‘because our competitor does it this way’. It’s essential to break down your processes, deconstruct them and look at ways you can remove friction, double handling and inefficiency. Can orders go straight from the table to the kitchen? Can online orders be received directly into your POS? Can payment at the table be done with a single step? Can you integrate your supply chain? Can you link your FOH and BOH systems? Chatime, for example, streamlined the previously onerous process of managing the hundreds of recipe variations by including them in the POS system. Carlos Antonius, General Manager of Chatime is enthusiastic about the result ““Staff retention is higher, we’ve cut down our training time and costs, and above all, our customers are getting a much more consistent product”.
- Ensure you have visibility and real-time information - If you’re having a slow day on Tuesday, there is no point in knowing about it on Friday. Real time performance information allows you to take immediate action, such as sending out a promotional offer to nearby loyalty members and increasing or decreasing staff numbers. It aallows you to offer promotions, send out tailored messages to loyalty customers who are nearby, reduce/increase number of staff, put right customer issues. At Chatime, their real-time reporting system can even pull in external data such as local weather conditions, for fully responsive marketing. Carlos Antonius explains, “If the temperature in Melbourne plummets, we can very quickly push out a promotion on hot drinks, just to the stores in the Melbourne area. Each selected store gets the promotion up on their digital signage, with no effort needed from the local staff”.
- Think about scalability – you might be starting with one venue, but if you get things right, you’ll grow. You don’t want to have to throw everything out and start again, or be redesigning processes and systems in the heat of a growth phase. So it’s important to design for scalability from the start, for example, thinking about what you can centralise to take pressure of the venues themselves, or thinking about how you can aggregate reporting data by city, region or country.
- Find the best supporting technology, remembering that it should fit your business, not the other way round. Technology is crucial for helping to deliver all the tips above –integrating every element of your business, including your supply chain, providing real time data and insights, providing services via the cloud for flexibility and mobility, harnessing smart devices, apps and IoT.
- Finally, get specialist help – whether it’s your IT provider, your bookkeeper, your design team, ensure you work with people who understand your business. Hospitality is highly specialised, with its own metrics, its own demands and its own unique opportunities. When you engage outside help, remember it’s not one size fits all. If you work with partners and providers who really understand your business, they’ll be able to bring you invaluable insights to help drive your business.
Hospitality is undoubtedly a challenging industry and potentially a very rewarding one. It takes work, commitment and not a little skill to build and maintain a successful business, but understanding and following these seven habits will certainly help you on your way.
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