Those of you who have seen our articles this month, will have read how restaurateurs and outlet operators can pep up their propositions through ‘add-ons’ like click and collect and Instagram-ready makeovers.

These worthy initiatives, embracing consumer digital engagement, are sure to grow and evolve in the sector in the coming years. However, we’d like to end this month by discussing the turmoil the F&B sector currently finds itself in and how the rules of engagement have changed and the routes to success need to be recalibrated.

We believe that a future-focused, confident stance must be taken in five key areas to drive performance:

Clear identity
Never has it been more important that brand and proposition are clearly understood, both internally and externally. Stepping back and articulating… market position; target customer; points of differentiation. Consumers need a reason to visit. A clear, consistently delivered proposition gains ground against an over-complex or poorly articulated offer.

Top-notch team
Managing resource can feel like a relentless uphill climb for those working to recruit, develop and train a team to deliver the desired diner experience. Characterised by a transient workforce, low wages and a temporary work ethic, finding and holding onto decent staff is a challenge, and one set to become harder with Brexit. There is scope to evaluate the drivers of retention and to raise the bar on service, modelling the cost of churn against the benefits of stable personnel. The operators that prioritise and invest in team will gain the edge.

Smarter pricing
Who would not want to deliver increased profits, with no impact on traffic? This can be achieved through understanding customer spending behaviour, reacting to demand, finding elasticity and designing menus and pricing to drive sales and squeeze out hidden margin. A strategic focus on pricing strategy and menu management should be deployed to drive ATV and profitability.

De-commissioned delivery
The delivery channel undoubtedly presents opportunity for the supply side, but many are grappling with how to execute and make this a profitable line on the P&L. We see a future in outsourcing the development of the delivery business plan, avoiding the intermediaries / commission fees and a potential alternative dark kitchen solution. Established restaurant businesses need to work out the best way to effectively access the value growth potential in the delivery sector.

Streamlined operations
And lastly, but definitely not least, operators need to be constantly looking to streamline and improve every element of back-of-house operations and concept execution to drive efficiency and performance. It is not the most glamourous, but regular and constant focus on the power of marginal gains, can be the difference between sinking and swimming in troubled waters.

In our view, the sector is set to experience a shake up, and there is neither the time or space for operators to be on the back foot. Those who wait and watch will lose ground, whereas those who are pro-active and prepared to blaze a trail, will stand the best chance.

Helene Mills