8 Everyday Problems faced by the Foodservice Industry: How to overcome them

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Could you be unwittingly sabotaging the success of your restaurant, café, bakery or hotel by falling into the trap of one of these blunders? Read on as we list eight of the most common problems food businesses face and how to overcome them.

Barista pouring coffee behind café counter

Problem #1: Your Menu

A great menu is a true balancing act. One of the most common mistakes many hospitality businesses make starts with their menus.

Large menus:

  • It takes customers longer to order.
  • You’ll need to buy more ingredients.
  • Creates longer ticket times in the kitchen.
  • Each table takes longer to serve which can lead to a slower turnaround time overall.

Bringing the best out in your menu:

  • Make sure your menu is easily readable.
  • Avoid using dollar signs.
  • Take your customers on a culinary journey. A great copywriter can produce a compelling mouth-watering menu.
  • Make sure your menus are always clean – no food or grease marks. Replace damaged menus and don’t white out or mark mistakes or changes – it’s unprofessional.
  • Make sure staff really know the menu and can answer questions and make recommendations.
  • Include the menu on your website and make sure it’s easy to navigate using a mobile phone.

Person wearing backwards cap looking up at café menu


Problem #2: Customer Service & Interaction

First impressions are crucial when it comes to making your business a memorable one.  Poor service can make great food and its surroundings unattractive. In contrast, a satisfied customer will return to your establishment and recommend you to others.


Problem #3: A Unique Selling Point (USP)

Ask yourself this question: Why should customers dine at my restaurant and not the one next door? This is essentially your unique selling point (USP).

A great menu and excellent customer service are essential to the success of your business, however, they are not a USP. An innovative idea and compelling reason for why customers should keep returning to your restaurant is a necessity.



Problem #4: Operations

Managing the ‘basics’ of your business is critical if you want to remain profitable. However, focusing primarily on the basics can often lead to many small restaurants not paying enough attention to the following:

  • How many customers are you serving each day?
  • Keep track of what menu items sell and which ones don’t. If a dish isn’t popular take it off the menu.
  • Do you know what your most profitable menu items are? Are these selling more than the least profitable ones?
  • What is your profit and loss for each week that you are open?

If you know the answers to these questions, decision-making will be easier and your business will be more profitable.


Problem #5: Staff

Supporting and keeping good employees can save your business time and money, while retaining valuable skills that could be hard to replace.

Top five tips for retaining hospitality staff:

  1. Be firm, fair and flexible. Staff need to know what your minimum expectations of them are from day one. Be flexible. This industry has odd hours so staff need some normal weekends as well.
  2. Lead by example. Show leadership, integrity and maturity at all times.
  3. Review and reward. Carry out regular staff reviews and make sure you have staff bonus and reward schemes in place.
  4. Don’t forget to communicate. Good communication is vital for any relationship and staff are no exception.
  5. Give feedback. Constructive, meaningful and real feedback will do amazing things for staff and ultimately lead to improved work performance.

Remember: When you support your staff, you’ll reduce costs over time and enhance your customers’ dining experience. 

Chefs preparing food in a busy kitchen with appliances

#6: Marketing

Marketing is all about the engagement between you and your customers. A great marketing plan can do wonders for a business.

Here are some simple steps that can help:

  • Create a marketing plan. Set yourself a goal for what you want to achieve and make it specific SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely. Your plan needs to be flexible and short term - 6 to 12 months.
  • Formalise your brand standards. This includes developing a mission statement, logo, graphics, guidelines, etc.
  • Think digital. Social media and websites are essential if you want to thrive.
  • Respond to comments on review sites.
  • Network within your community and businesses in the area – they can help spread the word.

Be creative with your marketing. Whatever your budget, there are inexpensive ways to promote your business.


Problem #7: Cash Flow

Having good cash flow is key for business success. If your business is experiencing poor cash flow here are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure you're getting the most from your menu. If you think prices are too cheap or you can get more from some dishes, increase the price.
  • Manage stock and make sure you have a good rotation method in place to reduce wastage.
  • Effective budgeting and management reporting are important. Do a short course if you need to upskill in this area.

Owners should plan to have at least enough money to continue operating for one year. Additionally, restaurant owners need to have enough financial resources to cope with unexpected costs and price increases.

Two café workers using a calculator and examining financial records


Problem #8: Balance

Finding a good work life balance can be hard when you’re running a business. Finding time to deal with ordering, finances, rosters, menu changes, marketing and general day-to-day tasks isn’t easy. Here’s how to achieve a happy medium.

  • Planning. Get into a weekly routine so that people know when you will be available and onsite. Make sure they know that they can call you if something is urgent.
  • Prioritise. Set yourself lists of key tasks and get the important ones done first.
  • Delegate responsibilities. Make sure your staff are well trained and are delegated responsibilities appropriately.  Not only does this ease your workload, it gives people working with you something to learn and a greater sense of involvement.

Being well organised is important so that every minute you are in the business you’re focused and then able to switch off and relax while at home.