Everyone needs food and everyone loves food. Unfortunately, serving food as a business isn’t quite as simple as you would first assume. Even previously acclaimed Cinderella success stories like Chipotle have recently dealt with catastrophic failure in regards to food service as outlined by this CNN news story.
Overall, there are certain things you need to keep in mind when entering the food service industry as a new business. Below are five common problems you should try to avoid.
1. An Unfocused and Unbalanced Menu
One of the biggest problems with many restaurants is one of the simplest, a poor menu. While it is true that some restaurants can have a several page menu and be very successful, those establishments have probably been around for decades. As a new restaurant, you need to start with a smaller number of offerings that you do very well. Your menu should also have balance. While it is good to have a focus, consider the fact that some patrons, such as vegetarians or the lactose intolerant, may want alternatives to your main fare.
2. Poor Customer Service
Still, many new food service businesses fail even with a good menu and delicious food. Usually the culprit is poor customer service. First impressions are extremely important for any relationship. This is especially the case in the restaurant business. If a member of your staff is rude to a customer, chances are that customer will not come back. To solve this problem, you need good training. All employees should be trained on how to best serve customers and solve customer problems in a relaxed and friendly manner.
3. Food Safety Issues
As the owner of a restaurant or food service business, one of your most important responsibilities should be making sure food is properly stored and handled in a way that follows health codes. Restaurant food safety and regulation is typically dealt with at the state and local level instead of the federal level. For example, rules regulating how restaurant inspections are conducted in the different counties of California can be found on the state government’s website. Try to go beyond the minimum necessary to follow the law so you avoid any situation in which a customer could get sick after eating your food.
4. Failure to Properly Manage Expenses
Many new restaurants close because they failed to manage expenses. The debt they amassed quickly wiped out any revenue they received. Overall, you need to keep expenses in check especially at the beginning. While you don’t want your product or service to suffer, there are ways you can save. For example, you could purchase used equipment. It’s likely to work as well as new.
5. Failure to Adapt
Overall, the food service business is about quickly adapting to change. While you shouldn’t fundamentally change your business concept at the drop of a hat, make sure to make adjustments based on customer feedback and trends when appropriate. If you don’t, your competitors will leave you in the dust.