Being Entrepreneurial in The Hospitality Industry… - The Food Guide Claire Brumby

Being Entrepreneurial in The Hospitality Industry…


Many moons ago, and what feels like another lifetime, I worked in the hospitality industry, it was my job (amongst the many hats you wear when you’re in this in the industry) to generate sales, which spanned across various income streams; restaurants, conferences, weddings, events, bedrooms and spa…lots of opportunity, but equally lots of pressure to ensure profitability was on track for each, which is a fine juggling act!

I think some of the same strategies to growing profit, increasing sales and awareness which apply in most forms of business can be translated over to the hospitality industry;

  1. How do you differentiate your offering from your competition?
  2. How strong is your brand, what does it stand for?
  3. What is your strength and how can you maximise this?
  4. How do you communicate to your customers, which marketing channels?

If we look at pubs and restaurants in isolation for a moment, the UK eating out market is worth over £40 billion, that’s a huge number, but how can you get your share of the pie? Considering the points from above, there are several ways in which they can help you in achieving a percentage of the £40 billion on offer;

  • Don’t just be a ‘me-too’ major on your strengths, i.e. look to find the USP within your offering, that could be a certain style or ingredient or you have a signature dish you can become renowned for?
  • With the big brands and coffee shops like Pret & Costa looking to change and expand themselves further and extend their food offering into new areas, including evening dining it’s time to make your own brand stand out, competition is getting fierce so be a step-in front.
  • I personally believe making your offering ‘fresh’ and continuing and building on this theme if you already are, is an area where growth will continue at a strong pace; fresh, provenance and healthy are here to stay – how can you reflect this in what you offer?

With escalating costs in terms of minimum wage, VAT rises, business rates and price competition on alcohol from supermarkets. A comprehensive food offering has become a must have, rather than nice to have in increasing the value per customer.

Here are other trends/ideas I have noticed, previous things I’ve personally implemented, or thoughts I would consider if I were still in this industry;

  • The ‘take-home’ movement, going beyond the stereotype of ‘take-away’; gourmet restaurant food delivered to your own home.
  • Pudding Clubs, Supper Clubs, Gourmet Nights, Themed Nights, this is endless…
  • Experience days; take a leaf out of the reality TV phenomenon, could you open your establishment and sell tickets for a ‘behind the scenes’ tour?
  • Cookery classes; who wouldn’t love to learn from a brigade of chefs a few tricks of the trade?
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your current customers what they like – they may give you a gem of information you have overlooked.
  • Utilise all forms of social media, find out which events are happening around you at all times, and jump on the conversations.
  • Get into the psyche of your customer, and reverse engineer back how to market to them.
  • Start a birthday book – invite your customer’s back year on year.
  • It’s a known statistic that’s its far easier to upsell to an already converted customer, so how many more ways can you nurture your current client base?

“It’s time to get creative to get ahead”  …. how can you do this.  Take a good look at your current offering, when did you last look at all your income streams in isolation, then look afresh at how they could flow together, you may just see something you’ve not seen before, or re-visit an old idea, maybe it worked, perhaps it didn’t, that’s not to say it wasn’t a good idea, could just need a slight tweak, or the timing wasn’t right, it’s still worth another shot in trying it.

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