Starting a Food Business Guide
Are you ready to be a food service player? If you’re reading this article, chances are, the initial answer to the question is a resounding yes! Either you are already in it, or are about to plunge into it. This serves as a validation test for you on the essentials you need to succeed in the exciting world of food business ventures.
Aside from the usual and obvious requirements in putting up a business (capital, network of suppliers, etc), becoming a food entrepreneur may require a persona and attitude far different from those of the other entrepreneurs. It’s a combination of reviewing what your interests and passions are, your inclinations to service, your attitude towards details, and your continuing search for quality. Whether you’re dreaming of the next best talk of the town cafe or assessing the prospects of buying into a fast casual dining restaurant, this may be your acid test to check if you have what it takes to be a food entrepreneur.
1. Am I a foodie? Some of the best restaurants that we now have are borne out of the passion for food. Not just the passion for eating, but also the passion to create exciting and delectable dishes. No wonder we have chefs coming out of their kitchens, professing their love for what they do. As a result, these chefs turned celebrities inspire others to either pursue formal culinary education (as a prerequisite to setting up the stage for the food business) or to start hiring these toque wearing individuals with dirt stained aprons.
Being a foodie also means being able to have an eye for what’s hot and what’s not. If you can identify the difference between the best mango sans rival and a pseudo one, then you may have something that not a lot of people have.
2. Am I service oriented? Food without service is like serving a pasta dish only noodles and without the sauce. Unlike packaged retail food manufacturing business (e.g. canned corned beef), in a restaurant, food is prepared, cooked and served in the kitchen or on-site. It’s like having a piece of you, or your staff’s, being together with the food.
Thus, the tangible product that comes out of your kitchen and satisfies your customer is served with the intangible items such as a smile, the courtesy, the ambiance, the impression of hygiene, etc. Extremely, in some fine dining restaurants, some customers expect the owners to personally look into their needs because of the peace of mind that this gives. Essentially, food and service are inseparable.
3. Do I have the eye for detail? Consider this: You’re serving the best lasagna in town, but always forget to present it with garlic bread. Or the bread that you serve requires a daily delivery of flour but your staff failed to place an order. Or your cakes are perceived to be outstanding by your customers and yet your competitors are able to present it with better style and packaging. Because of the competitiveness of the food service industry, a lapse on details may mean a lost customer forever.
4. Do I have a high standard for excellence and quality? We’re only as good as the food we serve today. Some menu items endure. The chicken barbecue of Aristocrat is a good example. But generally, consumers are constantly on the lookout for something better.
If you’ve set a standard for a specific menu item, the challenge is how to keep it that way, even with the entry of new players and their new flavors. A continuing search on how to make a better presentation, or coming up with new variants or flavors, can create the image of constant re-invention and your pursuit for food excellence. These four questions may lead to a further examination of just what exactly one derives from becoming a food entrepreneur that cannot be achieved if one pursues another type of business.
Try to imagine yourself doing it (your dream food business) for the next 365 days, 24/7. Then ask yourself, on your first anniversary, am I happier with myself now that I’ve done it and took the plunge? Other than the financial part, have I accomplished what I set out to do?
Having what it takes to be a food entrepreneur means having the heart (passion), the eye for detail, the mindset for excellence and quality and the willingness to be of service to your customer.
This is a guest post of Jack Montes, a marketing specialist, a foodie and an online entrepreneur.