What started out as small critiques of cafes and restaurants at some point morphed into thoughts about if you had your own place, how you’d do it differently, or better. If you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge and starting your own food business, here are our six top tips for hospitality success.
1. Plan before the plunge. Found the perfect place? Before you even think about signing that lease, make sure you really know what you’re getting in to. It’s time to put pen to paper! Write down all your awesome ideas and flesh out a detailed business plan. Refine your concept; develop a menu; find suppliers; nail your marketing strategy; and understand your finances (cash flow, bills and break-event point). You need to know about food safety, licensing, wages, staffing requirements, and the intricacies of coffee. Have you thought of everything?
TIP: The government has some great online resources to help you get started, including business plan templates, statistics, food safety, employment rights and responsibilities to name a few.
2. Create hype before you open doors. What’s the point of being the best in town but no one shows up? Start thinking about how to create a following and get customers in the door before you even have doors! Some simple social media works a treat. What have people in the local area been dying for? Hook on to that and spread the word. Vodafone NZ has some handy advice about different ways to use social media in your hospitality business, including targeted advertising.
3. Find your purpose. What’s the reason behind opening your own place? If it’s always been your dream to open a café or restaurant, you’re part of a pretty big club. You can’t open a place for the sake of it; it still needs to be a viable business. You need to develop your business plan based on what’s special, unique or innovative about your business. Find your advantage.
4. Do it with passion, or not at all. Hospitality is a different kind of beast; if you don’t love it, it will very quickly wear you down. To succeed in hospitality, you need to live and breathe it. Your passion also has to be contagious; your staff have to feel it and most importantly, so do your customers. You can’t fake authenticity.
5. Be present. There is no substitute to being there day in and day out. Being on the front line means you can keep your finger on the pulse, identify patterns, minimise costs, build rapport with your staff and get to know your customers.
6. Keep calm and carry on. The ability to keep cool under pressure, thrive in chaos and handle multiple points of view and personalities will serve you well in hospitality. The hours are long and the environment is inherently stressful. The industry changes constantly so you need to be able to think on your feet.