Ever thought about how the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry is constantly booming because of supply and demand, and how it is one of the things that people do not mind spending on? On the other side of the coin, it is a pretty tough industry to get into if you are looking to explore a career in the F&B industry, and only the best and toughest stay on.
Working in the F&B industry is admittedly tough; setting up a restaurant/cafe is even tougher. Daunting, in fact.
For all you F&B owners out there, have you thought about what makes or breaks your business(es)? It is not just about cooking good food, but also how to stay competitive in this industry by maximising efficiency, understanding diners, planning your menus better, and how to ace high volume cooking.
There are several workshops and courses, and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has come forward to aid people who are in the industry – to improve their work efficiencies and help them be future-ready, and to encourage the rest of the people to take that step into F&B.
Chefmanship is one to pay attention to, for they share the secrets behind successful F&B businesses. We went for a crash course organised by NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and Unilever Food Solutions, and what we learned in one mere day was enriching to say the least. It is one course that will benefit all restaurant and cafe owners, and here is a summary of what we learnt.
This might seem like a small thing and because of this, many overlook this whole part of their businesses. Menu planning is actually one of the most vital aspect of setting up a business, or whenever you are revising your menu.
For example, did you know for menu placements, you should put the most profitable dishes on the upper right hand corner (where our eyes naturally look at first), and relegate the least profitable section to the lower left hand corner? Do you have too many desserts and not enough mains? Are your ingredients readily available throughout the year?
Other key factors to note include the production capability and skills of your available staff, equipment to improve productivity, reasonable food pricing that ensures you still make a decent profit margin, and good menu balance. And they will all make or break your restaurant/ cafe.
For F&B owners, cluttered spaces will impede your efficiency. Maximising efficiency of your kitchen, service flow and dining area is the key thing that everyone wants in their establishments – from purchasing logistics, to your kitchen layout and equipment, to clear work organisation.
F&B businesses should also define staff roles clearly to avoid duplication of duties and prevent service gaps, provide objective performance evaluations and have regular feedback sessions from the staff. Did you know that this alone will make a huge impact?
In one group exercise which required teams to suggest ways to save an ailing restaurant, participants had vastly differing views on what to invest on and divest. It was through hearing each other’s perspective that the participants realised they had to let go of their existing mindsets of running a viable restaurant business.
For example, one participant thought that it was not necessary to train his staff to be future-ready, and hiring part time foreign kitchen workers would be sufficient to replace a head chef, till he was convinced otherwise by fellow restauranteurs.
It is useful to join a bigger ecosystem of associations (which are linking up with NTUC and government agencies to form strategic partnerships and sector-specific programmes to support local businesses) to stay in touch with the latest trends.
HIGH VOLUME COOKING
High volume cooking is something important to note and impacts efficiency directly, especially if you are running chains or have more than one establishment in Singapore.
Having a central kitchen for your business can also help to cut costs, and to eventually improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your kitchen.
Tung Lok’s investment in a char siew pau maker, pressure cooker and artificial intelligence cooking machine allowed them to redeploy staff to other duties whilst maintaining the quality and consistency of the food.
It is still a personal business decision whether to invest in a central kitchen as the tradeoffs can be daunting. Businesses can tap on NTUC’s experience (through unions, e2i and U SME) to learn more about productivity options before making a decision.
Your guests matter, and they matter a lot.
Your dining area is very important for a smooth work flow and to make sure that your staff can keep your guests happy and satisfied.
From maximising seating capacities to customer-staff interaction space, you will learn that proper planning of all of these, will be very essential in helping you improve an environment that benefits your staff, as well as your guests.
Are your staff empowered to make quick decisions to raise customer satisfaction, or proactively brainstorm for new ideas to grow the business?
Put more thoughts into planning the above success factors, iron them out and lay the foundation right, and your flow will be a lot smoother for day-to-day operation.
This message is part of a ladyironchef x Labour Movement project where we seek to share with you insights on the different initiatives by the Labour Movement to give workers in Singapore better jobs, better pay and better work-life balance.