Goodman Fielder

The industry must deal with labour shortages, inflation, high interest rates and ever changing food trends. But so do your competitors, and eating out is always popular. People will adjust their budgets and choices, and you’re flexible enough to meet them with fresh new offers. Here’s a hit list to stay ahead of the curve.

Double down on customer service, removing friction and delays. Part of this is a boost to staff training: start with tray skills and simple sales scripts, then find ways to make service faster. Upgrade your use of QR code ordering and digital menus — it’s easy tech for most visitors and always leads to an increased average customer spend.

Upgrade your menu. A digital menu gives you endless flexibility to experiment with new dishes, drinks and pricing. If something doesn’t work, it’s gone in minutes, or you can raise the price if it’s a success. Your kitchen team will be looking to experiment — give them access to menu software to cost and develop specials and use Instagram to promote them.

Strengthen familiar and popular menu items. When people are uncertain, they’re after familiar favourites (at least eight out of 10 want the same as last time), so make sure these dishes are high quality and priced with a winning margin.

Use technology to free up your time. If you’re already using online rostering and booking services, integrate them with bookkeeping, payroll and marketing.

Make 2023 the year for taking tech to the next level. Recipe costing works hand in hand with a kitchen system that manages ordering and flags unexpected price rises.

Unlock the power of your booking service by taking more deposits to guarantee attendance, automatically turning feedback into Google reviews and pre-selling drinks and starters. Use the AI power of online rostering to match rosters more accurately
with customer numbers and fine-tune your payroll processing.

Watch your numbers. It won’t take long to find hidden money when you have time to spot-check bills and negotiate with suppliers. Basic bookkeeping work can be done by someone else. Your role should be looking at weekly reports, tracking trends and responding decisively, not hunched over 200 Xero entries that don’t want to reconcile!

Put extra strength into marketing, which might just mean being consistent. Post on Instagram and Facebook at least five times per week and send a monthly email to your database of customers you’ve built up from booking and functions systems.

Create content by experimenting with ChatGPT. I asked it to create ideas for a series of six monthly email newsletters for an Italian restaurant. It provided information about regional ingredients, wine recommendations, travel highlights, cultural traditions and Italian phrases for eating out and wrote each one.

Stay positive: economic challenges can lead to so many new opportunities, and your competitors will look on with wonder.