Given the heatwave of the last week, using the old saying of making hay while the sun shines might seem dangerous. As we all now know, too much sun is not good. But the saying is really about optimising the best of conditions. This is very appropriate for our catering trade today.
The Worst of Times
For many businesses and individuals this is the worst of times. We’re seeing the impacts of:
- Covid and our recovery from it
- Staffing availability
- Cost of living crisis
Covid hit catering businesses badly with lockdowns and false dawns of eat out to help out. Many went bust as cashflows and savings failed. Effective cash management and seizing opportunities to flex business practices such as becoming takeaway businesses, enabled survival. As then, now is a good time to review your catering finances. This will identify what you might be able to risk as a budget in the next 2 months, to have more reserves for the winter.
Finding and keep the right staff has become a bigger challenge. Team management and motivation are even more important skills as is communication. Good managers are clear about what the current approach means for the business and separately what it means for each employee. This means talking, listening and understanding about motivations. It can be a good time to build the team with students and new casuals looking for summer income.
Cost of Living Challenge
Soaring inflation driven by increased commodity prices such as fuel and food costs, has created a ‘cost of living’ crisis. This will have an increasing impact as the year progresses. But for most catering businesses aside from Christmas specials, it’s easier to make more money while the sun shines; not in the winter months.
For most of the trade there are regulars and occasional/holiday clients. The former might start cutting back by coming less frequently or ordering less. The latter need to be attracted in. They might have looser purse strings, because it’s a treat or they’re on holiday. Both can be encouraged to spend more through ‘events’.
An event does not have to be a big thing. Rather it is something that can be promoted effectively with posters, social media and word of mouth. The event could tie in with things happening nationally such as on our event calendar or locally.
It could tie into the cost of living crisis and reward loyalty. This could include ‘Saving Saturday 6.00’ with a discounted shorter menu; or any other time you’re normally less full. Or what about Come Back Monday with fixed amounts off on their second visit. For regulars or those you want to turn into regulars, then why not the old loyalty discount card such as free main course or dessert on their 10th visit.
Whatever you decide to do, the time to start is now while the sun shines. This will maximise the summer cash or create the loyalty habit.