7 tips to improve profits for food businesses

Published: 27/01/2020

The food industry is arguably one of the most competitive in today’s marketplace. It’s something nearly all of us spend our hard-earned cash on daily, weekly or at the very least monthly, and as a consequence, it’s a multi-billion pound a year sector. 

Unsurprisingly then for those working in the food business, it can be a cut-throat world, and some of the figures surrounding successes and failures can make for alarming reading. But forget all that, we’re not here to promote negativity or pessimism, we want to do our bit to ensure your food business doesn’t become a statistic. Enter our seven top tips.

1. Reduce waste

We realise this might sound patronising but bear with us, one of the most effective ways to increase your profit margins immediately is by reducing the amount of food (i.e. money) you throw away. Of course, no one does this intentionally, yet billions of pounds worth of food ends up in the bin every year. 

Naturally, this is because you over order to cover all eventualities, after all, you don’t want to be in a situation where you’re turning custom away because you’ve run out of stock. What’s the solution? An effective inventory system. 

Inventory software will allow you to keep an eye on your ingredients - how much you use, how much you sell, and when you’re close to running out. A good system will also allow you to set-up alerts for when you’re getting low and you can even set up automatic purchase orders for when this happens. Better yet, some systems actually inform you when stock is close to its use-by date so you can make sure it’s used before it’s chucked in the bin. 

Thinking something as nifty as this is going to set you back a pretty penny? Nope. A top-notch EPOS system (spoiler, like ours) will do all of the above while accepting payments - plus more - and can cost as little as £60 a month. 

2. Market yourself

One of the best ways to boost your audience and therefore profits is through marketing. Thanks to technology, this is now easier (not to mention cheaper) than ever with social media. Using the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram you can interact with your customers, form a relationship and build loyalty.

Visuals are one of the most effective tools in a food business’s box and let’s be honest, we all know how it feels to see a mouth-watering dish and feel ourselves start to salivate. For this, Instagram is the ideal platform for sharing pictures. Running promotions with a prize incentive is also a clever way to get your page shared and widen your reach. 

There are countless ways to market yourself and it’s not just about social media, here are a few more top tips:

  • Run an email marketing campaign - build a list of subscribers and send regular (weekly or monthly) emails detailing your latest dishes and offers. 
  • Advertise in the local newspaper - not everyone’s online, after all, and this is a great way to target a local audience. 
  • Post flyers through people’s doors - again, great for reaching those who wouldn’t see your online efforts, just be sure to use appealing and enticing graphics. 
  • Search engine optimisation - one of the most effective ways to boost your chances of being found online is SEO. Head to our guide for everything you need to know to get started. 
  • Google My Business - make sure you’re signed-up so consumers in your local area find your business when looking for somewhere to eat nearby. 

3. Keep your finger on the pulse

Consumer demands are constantly changing so keeping up with what’s hot and what’s not can feel like a full-time job. But, if you want to keep your customers happy, you need to be up to speed on the latest trends. 

We understand you’ve got a lot on your plate - managing staff, finances, marketing and customers - and we’re not suggesting this is something you do daily, but set a little time aside once a week or month to read the latest restaurant management blogs and see if there’s any recent research that you can use to your advantage. It’ll give you an edge over your competition. 

4. Look at your menu

As a food business, you want to please everyone and offer something for every palate, but the truth is it’s about quality, not quantity, and while you might want to throw the kitchen sink at your menu in an attempt to please, having too much to choose from has actually been shown to put people off. 

So, go through your offerings with a fine toothcomb and cut the wheat from the chaff - i.e. look over your sales history and find out what your best-sellers are and what only gets ordered once in a blue moon. 

Scaling down your menu will help you in three ways:

  1. You’ll reduce the aforementioned waste because fewer options mean fewer items to buy and use in time. 
  2. The foods you leave on your menu will get ordered more often, and this means you’ll need to buy more of their ingredients from your wholesaler. If you buy in bulk you often get a discounted price. 
  3. You won’t over face customers with too much choice, so you’ll be making your life easier as well as theirs.

5. The customer experience

If you run a food business you’re no doubt all too aware of the importance of customer service, it’s your bread and butter (excuse the pun). Equally though, you can’t always be present given everything you need to deal with, so it’s critical your front of house staff are providing a top-quality customer experience even when you’re not around. 

The stats for this one speak for themselves:

  • 77% of customers share a positive experience with their network - bolstering your marketing efforts further. 
  • 50% spend more after a positive customer experience - boosting profits.
  • 60% of consumers won’t return following a negative experience. Yikes.

To get more of the first two and none of the third, provide in-depth training to all members of staff who’ll be customer-facing and be sure they:

  1. Provide a warm welcome
  2. Smile and put the customer at ease
  3. Offer help with the menu (they need to know it inside and out)
  4. Ensure the customer enjoyed what they ate
  5. Can handle negative feedback appropriately
  6. Are confident using your payments system.

7. Takeaway

Have you ever considered offering a takeaway menu? It’s a great way to grab your slice of the mid-week rush since 70% of millennials eat lunch at their desks, but it’s not just midday meals, Brits overall spend a whopping £8.9 billion on takeaways every year. 

This doesn’t have to be a whole new offering either, a selection of items off your in-house menu that would work well as a take-home alternative is just as good. 

Top tip: To save yourself the hassle of managing delivery drivers you can make this a pick-up only service, or if you’re feeling entrepreneurial sign yourself up to a service like Uber Eats. 

8. Technology

Setting your business up with the latest technology will save you time and money in the long run. We realise not everyone has the funds to splash out on the newest gadgets, but something as inexpensive as the EPOS system we alluded to earlier will help with stock-taking, staff management, sales tracking and more. 

The payment methods you offer are super important too since convenience is king to consumers - almost half would walk away from a business that didn’t accept their chosen payment type. The number of people opting to pay with cash is rapidly declining too, with card, contactless and mobile payments (Apple pay, for example) gaining in popularity. 

So, bring your tech up to scratch and make your life easier, keep your diners happy, and avoid turning paying customers away. It’s a no-brainer.

If the payment methods your food business offers need bringing into the 21st century then you’re in the right place. Our EPOS till system is the cream of the crop and we offer tailor-made packages to meet every budget. Chat with our team of experts on 08082 393660 to find out more.

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce

Copywriter

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