Musings & Adventures

Sustainability is about survival and prosperity. With soaring supply prices, staff shortages and crazy weather, sustainability makes sense across all business areas now more than ever.

It’s much more than recycled packaging and local vegetables, so let’s look at how it can make your business stronger. Let’s start with the areas not usually associated with ‘green and sustainable’.

Sustainable operators are innovators who are always looking for ways to be leaner and more efficient. It means embracing change and new technology and being keen to measure the effectiveness of old methods and new ones.

Are you worried about power costs? Use simple measuring devices to check peak consumption periods and find the equipment that is the heaviest user of gas, electricity and water. It is often a quick win for bringing down costs in just a few weeks.

Sustainable businesses know profit is their lifeblood. Without it, rent, suppliers and staff aren’t paid. The operators of these venues are big on increasing sales, recipe and menu costing, watching utility costs and having daily figures.

The cliche about sustainable meaning ‘anti-business’ is a long way from the truth, and open-book management is often a key driver — everyone knows how business finance works. Good profits mean business owners are less stressed and can avoid crazy hours and the worries that are part of many small enterprises.

Sustainable businesses track food trends and customer enthusiasm and are ahead of the curve when it comes to alternative milks, proteins and special dietary requests. They want the business from a table of four people: the three who are meat eaters and the one who is vegan — creating options isn’t hard for smart chefs.

Sustainable businesses buy locally when they can because disruptions across the country and globally remind us supply lines are fragile. The local vendor is suddenly a lot less expensive when they are 100 per cent reliable compared to the large chain that gives you an invoice with 30 per cent of items not available.

Sustainable businesses are fast with communication because it keeps back of house on their game and builds trust with customers. They have a helpful website, online bookings, respond quickly to emails and social media messages and keep employees regularly updated.

Sustainable businesses have loyal staff because they prioritise good work conditions, fair pay and establish a strong feeling of engagement. High levels of communication and good leadership are essential for this. As management guru Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Staff shortages aren’t such an issue if they don’t leave.

Finally, sustainable businesses share their success. Cornersmith in Sydney publishes personal stories, cooking classes and local produce pics to demonstrate their anti-waste ethos. If there’s one shortcoming of most sustainable businesses, it’s that they don’t tell their story very well. Post a steady stream of photos and happy snaps of a
new trainee’s first coffee, the bookkeeper at work, cheerful customers and recycling programs.