Importance of Food Service Management
According to the USDA, food service facilities like diners, coffee shops, and family restaurants grossed over $731 billion in 2014. The food service industry is a vital part of the American economy. These businesses rely on food service managers (FSMs) to control costs, keep customers happy, and ensure smooth operations on a daily basis. But what does a food service manager really do? And why are they so important to restaurant operations?
The Roles of a Food Service Manager
FSMs are the center of activity in any food service setting. Their daily tasks involve organizing resources, supporting health and safety compliance, and administrative duties. In an average day, an FSM might:
Train employees on equipment use and procedures.
Schedule employee shifts and assign duties for the fullest coverage with the smallest impact on the bottom line.
Submit orders for ingredients, paper goods, and other supplies.
Monitor employee performance to ensure quality standards.
Assist customers with issues or complaints.
Reconcile daily cash deposits.
Record payroll data.
Inspect storage, preparation, and customer areas for cleanliness and safety.
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The duties of FSMs vary in each restaurant. Larger dining rooms may have several managers working together, with each one responsible for only one part of the daily operations. An FSM may be responsible for interviewing and hiring employees.
Higher-end facilities may have an executive chef that controls the food-related aspects of the business. In that situation, the FSM would concentrate on front-of-the-house issues like coordinating wait staff and the diner’s experience. No matter how their official job description may read, FSMs are essential to the proper functioning of any commercial eatery.
The Importance of Food Service Management
FSMs use their organizational and interpersonal skills to keep customer satisfaction high while operating costs stay low. It’s estimated that the average restaurant only lasts about five years. While many factors influence the success or failure of a business, good management practices reduce the likelihood of failure for new diners in many ways.
Controlling food costs is crucial to a prosperous eatery. FSMs help keep businesses profitable by educating employees on serving and preparation standards, keeping a careful inventory of stocks, and sourcing different suppliers for the most cost-effective ingredients.
Customer opinion can make or break a restaurant, no matter how long it has been in operation. When a problem occurs, the FSM must do damage control to reduce any negative impact on the business. A successful FSM needs to know customer relation techniques that turn unhappy diners into repeat patrons.
Restaurants rely on wait staff, bussers, cooks, and cleaners to run smoothly. More than just schedules and paychecks, FSMs are responsible for keeping all staff members motivated and working to their potential.
An FSM’s real job is to make sure everyone is happy. They provide employees with the tools they need to give the customer their best possible experience. When customers are satisfied, business thrives.
Careers for Food Service Management
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average FSM brings home $24.43 per hour. Those with skill, education, and experience can make twice that figure while enjoying a fast-paced career in a variety of exciting industries.
Corporate or private dining halls.
Entertainment centers like stadiums and concert halls.
Resorts and other leisure destinations.
Schools, hospitals, and other large social organizations.
Many FSMs start from the bottom. They spend years in an entry-level position to hone their skills and prove their ability to run a restaurant. For those who want a faster start to their ideal career, a degree program is the quickest route to achieving your goals. An accredited hospitality training program will show you how to use your natural abilities to guide any eating establishment to succeed. In addition, you will learn administrative, leadership, and management procedures that will put you far ahead of the competition.
Successful foodservice management means having your hands in many pies: menu planning, operations, revenue management, human resources, training, marketing, merchandising, and customer service. Whether you’re managing a new restaurant business or working to improve an existing one, you need a strategic toolkit for success. Food service managers are responsible for the daily operation of restaurants and other establishments that prepare and serve food and beverages. They direct staff to ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience and the business is profitable. Food service managers work in restaurants, hotels, school cafeterias, and other establishments where food is prepared and served. Managers at fine-dining and fast-food restaurants often work longer hours—50 or more per week. The work can be hectic, and dealing with unhappy customers can be stressful.
Starting your food service business:
Not sure how to start your food business? Find out what to consider, and how to make it happen with our practical 8-step guide.
Are you an aspiring restaurateur with a fresh new business idea, but not sure where to start? Well, it turns out that now might actually be a great time to take the plunge. Research shows that the food service industry is booming, and is set to reach $4.2 trillion with an annual CAGR of 3.6% by 2024.
But the idea of starting up your own F&B business may seem daunting, especially when the outlook for start-ups is bleak. Research shows that as many as 90% of new restaurants fail. The silver lining is that 10% don’t.
So to help you get started, we’ve pulled together an 8-step beginner’s guide, with insider tips to give you every chance at success.
1. Make a solid Business Plan
The first thing you’ll want to do before making any investment is do your research, diligently. Spend a few weeks (or even months) getting a deeper understanding of the broader foodservice landscape, your customer target, latest trends and competitors, and start writing a business plan for your investors. Think of it as exploring your 4C’s: customer, consumer, channel and context.
For this, you’ll want to:
Define your target market: Who is your new business targeting – baby boomers, gen X, gen Z, empty nesters, seniors? Once you’ve defined your target segment, make sure you understand what they buy, why they buy, where they buy from and what makes them tick. This will help you create a relevant, targeted offering.
Define your USP: Find what sets you apart from the rest of the herd. Have a look at what your direct (and indirect) competitors are doing, and establish your point of competitive difference. Now here, it doesn’t’ have to be radical, but it does have to be relevant. For example, if you’re targeting young families, creating a child-friendly establishment with nutritious children’s meals could be enough to give you a leg up on the competition.
Define your restaurant style: Are you thinking of opening a bakery, coffeeshop, quick-service, fast-casual or full-service dining restaurant? Each one of these channels requires their own unique approach, operating hours and investment, so make sure to pick one that suits you as an individual, and the work schedule that you’ll want to have.
Select your food type/menu offering: Think carefully about your menu and the type of food you’ll want to offer – and do so early on in the process. Find out what the latest menu trends are (especially for your target market) and tailor your offering to them. Some of the hottest trends right now include: vegetarian/vegan diets, allergy-friendly & gluten-free menu options and sourcing your produce locally.
Define your brand: Your branding – from your logo and the imagery you use, to the design of your menu, music you play and even and uniforms of your staff – define what your business is all about, and what you stand for. It sets the tone for your restaurant and lets your customers know what they can expect. Think carefully about how you want to position yourself and what you want your identity to be.
Once you have your business plan in place, go out into the world – and test it. Find some of your target customers and ask them for their thoughts and impressions. This could be as simple as polling a handful of people off the street to a full-blown market research study.
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2. Secure your financing
Now it’s time to sort your finances. But not everyone who wants to start a restaurant has the personal funding to do so. In fact, most don’t.
Thankfully, there are lots of other ways that you can find funding for your new venture:
Get a business loan
Turn to family/friends
Find outside investors or bring in a partner
Get government aid
Just remember that it’s likely to take years before you turn your first profit, and money will be tight at first. So think about starting small (you can always scale up) and choose your business partners wisely, because they’ll be around for a good while.
3. Choose your location
You know what they say: “location, location, location”. Well, as it turns out, that’s not always the case. The location you choose for your establishment will depend on the a number of factors, and unless you’re relying heavily on foot-traffic, you don’t necessarily need to be in the hottest new retail location.
Here are a few factors you’ll want to consider:
Cost: based on your sales and profit projections, what can you afford to spend on rent?
Accessibility to potential customers: how are you customers getting to your restaurant, by foot, by car, by public transport?
Restrictive ordinances: some neighborhoods have strict noise regulations or restrictions on the times when your suppliers can deliver your produce
Proximity to other businesses: competitors and other businesses can influence your traffic, so map out what’s happening around you, and how it could affect your business
Plans for the future: consider what the neighborhood will look like in 2, 5, 10 years, and if there are any major development projects underway that could change the local landscape
4. Design the layout of your space
Once you have the a venue, it’s time to start working on the layout and design your space.
Of course, this will depend on the type of establishment you’re running, but typically restaurants dedicate about 45-60% of their space to the dining area, about 35% to the kitchen area and the remainder to storage and office space.
Think carefully about the layout of your kitchen and dining areas, and make sure there’s a smooth flow between the two. Prep space is also critical, so make sure your chefs have enough room to plate, garnish and decorate their dishes.
And most importantly: don’t cut corners in your dining area. This is the stage of the show – literally where all of the magic happens – so finding the right ambiance and decor to make your customers feel welcome is critical to success.
5. Choose your suppliers
As a restaurateur, you’ll be working with a number of different suppliers – from furnishings to POS systems, bar equipment, kitchen appliances and of course, food. Make your wish list, scope out your short and long-term budget, and go on the hunt for your partners. But remember that while you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to quality, over-priced suppliers can minimize your margins and run your business into the ground. So make sure to negotiate, hard.
But where do you start looking? Try going to wholesale retailers, local farmer’s markets, F&B conventions, ask for recommendations from fellow restaurateurs or just do a simple Google search.
You’ll be looking for a trustworthy supplier, who has a good track record of providing quality products and rota of successful partnerships. For food suppliers, be sure to about their delivery schedules and food safety management practices. And go local – they usually offer fresher ingredients.
6. Get your licences and permits
When it comes to regulations, every country, county and city is different. But make sure that you check in with your local regulatory office, and consider getting legal counsel to make sure you adhere to all of your local health & safety codes and food regulations. Just know that some licenses can take months to acquire, so make sure to get started on this process well before opening day.
7. Start hiring your employees
First, think about what staff you need to hire for your restaurant type. Based on the scale of your restaurant, this may include: HR managers, purchasing experts, accountants, marketing & sales managers, chefs and sommeliers, waiters, hosts, bartenders and cleaning and dish-washing staff. Make sure to hire enough staff for each job, and anticipate shift planning and back-ups in case of illnesses and vacations.
Look for candidates with sufficient experience and a successful track-record, who are quick on their feet, can multi-task and are efficient. All of your employees should work well under pressure, and customer-facing staff should have exceptional social skills.
And when it comes to hiring staff, you can never be too careful – so do your due diligence. Make sure to do background checks, conduct several face-to-face interviews and call their references.
8. Advertise your business
Before opening your restaurant, you’ll want to do a fair amount of advertising to alert your local community that there’s a new eatery on the block.
And while word of mouth is still the best form of publicity, here are a few other ways you might like to consider announcing your new venture:
Build a great website: make sure that it’s easy to navigate and includes all of the key information, including your opening times, menu, a booking engine and if/how you cater to special requests
Use social media: create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram, and share relevant news and high-quality photos of your restaurant and the behind-the-scenes process as you’re getting ready for opening day
Put an ad in the local newspaper (and online news platform)
Host a soft opening: this is not only a great practice-run before opening day, but will also help create some buzz about your restaurant within your local community. Make the guest-list small, and consider having a soft opening for family & friends, followed by one for local businesses and partners.
Offer promotions to new guests: offer a free drink or dessert for the first 10, 50 or 100 customers – you’ll be remembered for your hospitality and generosity. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff?
And with that, we leave you with one last tip for success: work hard, don’t give up, and be prepared to risk it all. Starting any new venture will be a challenge and most likely an uphill battle, but in the end, nothing tastes sweeter than victory.