Author: Benjamin Lee
The food and beverage, or F&B business, is one of the most competitive yet lucrative businesses that you can start. After all, every one of us needs to eat and nothing could be better than enjoying a delicious meal or snack.
It goes without saying that the F&B business is not for everyone. From long, punishing hours in the kitchen to the constant demand for perfection, the food business is not for everyone. All too often, we’ve heard tales of promising your entrepreneurs and chefs burning out after only a few years.
However, for those tenacious enough and lucky enough to hold on, the rewards of running an F&B business are innumerable. Besides the obvious monetary benefits, watching customers enjoy your food is its own reward.
To give you an edge in this hyper-competitive industry, we’ve prepared 5 ways for you to make your mark in the F&B industry.
- Understand your customer base
The F&B industry can be a cruel one with little mercy shown to those who make mistakes. As an entrepreneur or restaurateur, you need to respect your customers. Their taste and opinions can make or break your business.
This is why when you first get started, it’s best that you understand and recognize who your food will cater to. While most F&B owners dream of serving cuisine that transcends race, creed and socio-economic status, this is hardly the case.
For example, if your truck or restaurant is located in a working-class or industrial area, chances are fine-dining cuisine is out of the window. Instead, tailor your product to match the tastes of your client base.
Still, there are some niche places where you can take your business, especially if you have a transportable food truck. Placing your food business outside concert venues or football stadiums is a guarantee of solid income. Maybe the licensing issues might be a bit expensive, but imagine how many hungry people you will attract after they just come out of a football game?
You know the way the NFL lines move, and you know the way human stomachs move. Score a touchdown and serve some tasty treats to the fans, before, after or during a game.
- Never skimp on ingredients
As any veteran of the F&B industry will tell you, profit margins are everything. Hence when first starting out, you may be tempted to skimp on ingredients and condiments in the name of cost. While you may initially be able to save a couple of bucks, your customers will be quick to sniff out a fraud.
Instead, focus on operating a leaner, greener operation with minimal waste and maximum efficiency. Train yourself and your crew to make the most out of your ingredients. On the long-term, you’ll find that your costs are lower and your customers are happier.
- Customer-service is key
Whether you’re operating a tiny food truck or the owner for a 5 Michelin star eatery, always remember that customer service is essential. All too often, customers have been put off by arrogant or rude hospitality staff.
Take the example of Jimmy and Drew’s; a successful deli which earned rave reviews from Esquire and the New York Times, that closed down due to faltering sales. Once renowned for their attentive staff, the deli unfortunately lost many loyal customers when their previous staff were replaced by uninterested college students.
The above situation clearly demonstrates how poor customer service can ruin even the most successful eateries.
- Start small
All great ventures have humble beginnings. While it may be tempting to quickly expand and build your empire, it’s best that you remain focused on your goals. Having established your business, concentrate your efforts on improving your menu and ensuring consistent quality. Build up relationships with your suppliers to ensure a steady flow of quality product.
Always remember that it’s better to have 2 profitable ventures than 10 loss-making ones. Over time as your empire expands, you’ll be able to add skilled members who’ll help you along the way.
Venturing into the F&B industry can be an extremely risky affair for those unprepared for the rigors of such a competitive industry. However, with focus and tenacity, you’ll be able to have your F&B empire up and running in no time.