How NOT to run a food business into the ground – part 2 – Process – by Maria Kuehn


Location Location Location – Is that what it’s all about? Well, the business of co-running a small community café in the middle of nowhere means working twice as hard to promote oneself, but believe you me, on some days it takes an army of volunteers at lunchtime to prevent total melt down, we’re that busy.

And one of the reasons, amongst many is due to our PROCESS.
Without it you cannot run a food business So, what does that entail? Quite simply, you need to have everyone singing from the same hymn sheet. Excuse the cliché, but it’s really that simple as a concept, not so easy in execution.

Here is what I’ve learned in the eighteen months of trading:-

1. Food. You may have only one cook on board to begin with, but I don’t care if she/he is the best thing since Escoffier; have the recipes written down. You’ve seen how all the (fairly ghastly) but terribly profitable chains like Wagamama operate. The food is brought in and the ‘cooks’ in white chef hats spend their time opening bags of sauces etc which are at least consistent. If you have a recipe, anyone can learn to cook it.

2. Timings. Cooking breakfast for instance. You have five or six items on the go, all needing different cooking times. Make damned sure you follow the same process to ensure it is consistently good. How long for scrambled eggs? Customers like them wet or a bit drier for instance.

3. Daily procedures. Whether it’s filling up a drinks cabinet, ensuring the place is spankingly clean, follow the same procedure everyday. You can guarantee that a Health and Safety bod will be knocking on your door when you least expect it – it’s a disaster if your ‘scores on the doors’ are poor. You just can’t be sloppy – EVER!

4. Shopping List. As soon as you see that you are low on a stock item, have a dedicated notepad, small blackboard etc on which to write it down. Sounds so logical, but when you’re pushed for time or exhausted you can easily let things slip. You can’t. It equates to lost sales and disgruntled customers.

5. Communication.  Share your thoughts honestly – this particularly applies when you have two cooks on board. Each may have their own process and they may have to come to a compromise but by golly work it out before anything goes out. Leave the ego at home.


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