Tag Archives: Food For Thought

Just measure it

Running a business has to be among the most stressful things you can do: you don’t always get to make all the decision but in the end you’re responsible for all the mistakes and somehow you still need to sleep at night.

I take the view that stress is caused by lack of information. (And if you think about it even if you have all the information you need today, you can never have perfect information about what will happen in the future.)

So it follows from this that the way to deal with stress is to get better information; find something to measure and measure it!

How do you choose what to measure?

Obviously just recording everything will not help: the key thing is to measure stuff that helps you build good business information to back up good decision making.

So the skill is to identify the right information that gives you an accurate picture if what’s going on. This is going to be specific to your business individually, but it will be based on a thorough understanding of what constitutes “good” – which sales or customers you target, how much output is reasonable.

This may sound pretty obvious: I’m an accountant and I think that more numbers are the answer!

In truth most businesses have more financial data than they not what to do with; probably causing more stress rather than helping. But knowing that you financials aren’t good enough doesn’t help you work out what to do differently. You need more detail to give you better information and this can radically change your perception of what’s going on too.

Last year I worked with a new restaurant who felt they needed to increase their marketing efforts because they were not attracting enough customers.

But when we looked at the figures that were available from the tills and booking systems we could see that they were getting more customers than they had expected but actually the spend per head was too low because of mistakes in menu pricing and too generous special offers. Also they were turning away diners on Friday and Saturday nights but struggling to get bookings at other times.

So the answer wasn’t a simple “Do more marketing” it was more nuanced; increasing some prices and focusing special offers on the times when they wanted more business.

This not only improved their sales numbers, but made more profit as well.

In our world of cloud based applications it is now becoming much easier to get access to information, although you still need to be clear about what presents useful, actionable messages and what just adds to the confusion.

The key thing is to work out what the information you are collecting says about what you need to do to drive your business forward; what to change but also what should stay the same.

It’s worth spending some time thinking about this, and if you need help get in touch to ask about a free information review.

Service with a smile

The latest Food For Thought workshop was run in conjunction with Food Drink Devon in March and looked at ideas for attracting and retaining customers in both retail and hospitality businesses.

The challenge for both retailers and cafes and restaurants is very similar; you still can’t eat lunch online, but increasingly customers’ expectations have altered dramatically due to the advance of Amazon, Ocado and numerous order online delivery services.

Barbara King faces that change everyday at The Shops at Dartington and generously shared her experiences with a thought provoking presentation focusing on how to stand out from the online crowd and retain a loyal customer base.

Customers no longer go to “bricks and mortar” shops purely for supplies; they want to enjoy spending their money and feel content about parting with it. Shoppers will always appreciate good value, but also our increasingly aware customers want to know the provenance and local/ ethical credentials of the goods they buy.

By explaining to customers why you have chosen particular products in the range you show that you are carefully curating the massive selection of options currently on offer so that they don’t have to look any further. This is easy to do with some simple signposting and labelling, and often producers supply their own material.

Creating a welcoming environment for customers is absolutely crucial to making them feel at home. We are all aware of the “have a nice day” style of customer focus, but independent retailers and eateries have an opportunity to use the initial greeting, maybe even just a smile and a hello, to show that they offer a unique service and genuinely care about their customers.

Finally, why not make it easy for customers to find a reason to visit again; give them a loyalty offer (free coffee on your 6th visit?) or tell them about future events (a postcard with an invitation to a launch event?) and stay in touch via a newsletter, relating new developments and other news.

Ultimately happy customers are returning customers, and happy customers will spread the word about you do to their contacts, all of which does the marketing hard work for you!

There will be more blogs summarising the topics discussed in March over the coming weeks and if you would like to find out about the next workshop, planned for autumn 2019, please leave a comment to let me know.