Some insider tips from experienced F&B professionals and we suggest some aspects of running a F&B business in Singapore that you can keep an eye out for when starting your own restaurant!
Are you thinking of starting your own food and beverage (F&B) business? Before starting up your eatery, be it a restaurant or café, there are numerous aspects to consider in order to get the gears of your new place running smoothly. How can you optimise your restaurant performance and resources to make the most of what you have?
Efficiencies in a restaurant is best summed up by Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” It may sound pretty obvious, but having an eagle-eyed perspective of every aspect of your restaurant can help you be prepared for most challenges. When you have planned in advance for the needs of your restaurant, it allows you to maximise your resources and abilities.
Take a look at the following aspects that you can consider in your planning:
Firstly, you should consider the number of staff you’re looking to hire, and if it’s adequate for your eatery’s needs. It is recommended that the ratio of part timers to full timers you hire is 2 to 5. Full-timers and part-timers bring very different dynamics to your business, and each have to be carefully considered in planning and scheduling. With the hourly pay for part-timers, it may bring about high turnover rate and low attendance.
A good practice to have is maintaining an excel sheet of current employees and potential employees, which you can readily tap into when the need arises. This list should be regularly updated and used in the event where you urgently need a position to be filled. Rather than leaving the space empty for the time you take to begin your search for a replacement, you would already have someone to step in and take up the position as soon as possible. This can save you valuable time and resources to keep the flow of your restaurant moving.
Continuously look out and interview for potential staff to keep your list up-to-date, and we advise you to re-examine it every month. A quick tip is for you to tap into the large pool of students who are always looking out for part-time jobs. The flexible schedule and hours of an F&B business is perfect for those who want to study and work at the same time.
Furthermore, it is useful if your staff are prepared and familiarised with your business operations. In order to serve and work efficiently, training is key as it allows your staff to be more comfortable and confident in their service. An orientation programme that provides your staff with adequate knowledge, skills and standard operating procedures (SOPs) can aid the smoother running of your business. Your staff are the first point-of-contact with any guests.
With sufficient familiarity with the products, they can aid in increasing awareness and upselling of your products. Your staff should also know what items are low on stock and be able to effectively highlight discounts and best-sellers to your customers. Chefs should also be briefed and well-orientated with the menu beforehand, and all changes should be communicated efficiently with staff.
On this note, having an adequate number of staff is important as it allows you to maximise your daily sales. Customers can tell when you choose to scrimp on staffing when it increases the wait time, service time, and the overall quality of service offered to guests.
It is useful to know when the peak periods are and ensure that you lock down the resources you need beforehand. Prepare in advance to have enough staff to meet the demands of the shift, for example, more staff for any upcoming festive seasons. Especially with various public holidays and events, it may be slightly tougher to find staff for those events.
On a daily basis, consider the different attributes of the crowds during different times of the day. Consider what needs your eatery has during each meal time, and how can you adequately prepare and have sufficient staff for those times.
Suit Up (Mise en Place)
Mis en Place can be translated to the preparation of ingredients before the beginning of a service, and encapsulates our point here. It is always worth considering if there’s anything you can do to simplify your cooking and serving process. Is there any automation or preparation that can be done in advance? For most restaurants and cafes, ingredients have to be ready and in easy reach to maximise your table turnover and sales.
You can consider if there’s anything you can do in advance to make the cooking and serving process easier, such as cutting up vegetables or marinating your meat in advance. To further reduce food preparation time, you may choose to opt for ingredients that are easy to prepare and cook.
Suppliers & Supplies
Moser Business Builder (MBB) Management, a team of professionals with years of experience in hospitality management, suggests setting up an inventory system that allows you to be aware of your ingredient usage – allowing you to know how often to restock and reducing food wastage.
With varying Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs) and myriads of orders coming in with different delivery days from your suppliers, it is essential to monitor what ingredients you have and don’t have at hand.
As advised by Joey Lee, founder of Alter Ego and Tandem Collective, a good way to increase efficiency is ensure that you order your supplies and ingredients from a good network of suppliers.
Each supplier has varying quality and delivery, and minimising the number of different suppliers can help you to save time and even money.
For example, if you have a single item you want from a supplier, try to see if it’s possible for you to obtain this item from another supplier which you are ordering more ingredients from. This reduces the amount of time spent coordinating multiple sources for your ingredients.
However, as a word of warning, a single source for all your ingredients may be detrimental to your business. If one of the ingredient is out-of-stock, or of terrible quality, you would be left with no alternative to your problem. Thus, try your best to reduce the number of suppliers to as few as possible to meet your needs but do explore and examine and keep other options at hand.
You should also try your best to set a time to receive your delivery during non-operational hours. This can help reduce the disturbances and interruptions in your service of your restaurant or cafe. In addition, with fewer suppliers providing you with all your resources, it reduces the amount of manpower needed to monitor and check the stock that comes in.
In Singapore, long queues are usually a good sign. Many customers love joining the queue because it seems to promise good food, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (with your food being that gold). However, it’s vital to ensure that the queue moves efficiently and as quickly as it can. Something to look into would be methods to increasing the table turnover rate of your eatery.
Queue management can be quite a chore, but providing an adequate system and enough staff to keep the crowd moving will allow your eatery to run more smoothly.
For example, utilising queue numbers will help you to monitor and cater to the demand, adding seats outside your restaurant and café can help as well, and if need be, providing light snacks and water hopefully can alleviate the waiting process.
Ultimately, any establishment needs to be sustainable. A survey conducted discovered that it is recommended that the typical ingredient cost in a breakdown of your expenditure should be approximately 30-33% of your profits.
As you prepare to run your F&B business in Singapore, you should always consider your expenditure on ingredients, rent, and service. Try to ensure that you are able to track and monitor your sales effectively. With varying prices of ingredients and supplies across the country, ensure that you are clear of the price you are getting, and that you are obtaining the optimal price for your ingredients.
We encourage you to do frequent check-ins with your suppliers and keep track of the price they are selling you the ingredients at, especially with regards to high value products.
Check back with your past invoices occasionally to monitor and keep updated with any price fluctuations and discrepancies that may arise.
These are only a few aspects that can be considered when planning for your restaurants and cafes. With the main aspects of your restaurant or café working more efficiently, you now have time to focus on the quality of your food, service and providing your customers with the best experience.
We hope that these pointers will help you look out for certain things when planning and starting up your own restaurant.