Are pub meals rescuing the industry? | KitchenCUT

Over the last decade, concerns have been raised across the industry over the rising levels of pub closures and the general decline of the pub market.  However recent figures released by Mintel are showing that the market has actually seen growth in some areas in the last 4-5 years. 
Here, John Wood comments on these latest developments in the industry…

Why has the great British pub increased again in popularity?

One of the key reasons for this is that people are starting to use pubs for a dining out option, with the increase in the popularity of the “Gastro Pub” (a term I struggle with). The pub industry has realised that food is important part of growth and attracting and retaining customers. You cannot get away with just offering the standard pub fayre as it is no longer acceptable and customers are looking for something more.

The study shows that people are looking for freshly cooked dishes, using quality products, which also reflects what has been happening in the restaurant and catering industry. Diners know more about food and have a real interest in eating well when they dine out. This is great for the industry as a whole, however it puts many people under pressure to perform, with more scratch cooking, having to create innovative and creative menus, using fresh produce at a competitive price. With increasing food prices and the industry price war on menu prices, operators are getting squeezed from both ends. Subsequently margins and profits are getting tougher to achieve on food. That is not to mention the additional cost of quality chefs that can produce this level of cuisine that customers are demanding.

The National and International chef shortage is reaching alarming rates, with more people leaving the industry, less coming into the industry and more and more restaurants and hotels opening. Trying to compete with the large groups with deep pockets in regard to wages and ensuring the working hours and conditions are good enough to attract and retain chefs is a constant worry for many businesses.

So what can you do to address these issues?  

A shortage of chefs

We have created blog articles in the past about the issues around the retention of chefs and the problems people are having recruiting chefs. Basically, you have to stop the leakage before you start to recruit. Why are people not staying with you? Have you recruited the right person in the first place? Have you done everything you can train, develop and mentor all the chefs, including your Head Chef?

Most people think it is a money or working hours issue, which in some cases it maybe, however most businesses cannot afford to increase their chefs’ salaries by 10-20% or reduce their hours to a 35-40 hour week. I speak to many different types of businesses and there is one thing that operators with low staff turnover have in common: they care about their teams!

  • They ensure they have the right equipment, good uniforms and facilities to work in.
  • Then they train, develop and nurture their chefs, giving them opportunities to learn new skills, see new things and they ensure that they have a good progression plan in place for them.
  • They sit down with their teams on a regular basis and ask how things are, they reward teams with food and drinks when they have had a great service and most of all they show that they care and appreciate them.

In regard to teaching chef’s new skills, most chefs move up through the brigade ladder getting promoted on culinary skills alone. However very few places teach them the really important skills of managing a successful business financially. How to cost and manage food costs, reduce wastage and ensure that they can create food that is profitable. So often chefs go up through the ranks until they reach Head Chef with no financial skills or knowledge on how to make great profit from food.

That is why we at Kitchen CUT positively encourage teams to give all their chefs and service teams access to our system as you can also manage who can see what and what they can do in the settings. Where hotels, pubs and Restaurants have done this successfully and have given them this new skill through Kitchen CUT they have seen a considerable reduction in staff turnover as they start to feel empowered.

Managing costs

With food and drink prices on the increase every year, customers demanding a better quality offering and the price war across the hospitality industry to attract more customers with lower prices and deals, it is getting more challenging to achieve good margins and profit.

It is absolutely critical that businesses run a tighter control over their costs and have live costings on all their dishes and menus that are updated as products increase in price. Keeping on top of this even with XL spreadsheets is both time consuming and tedious and potentially inaccurate as formulas can go wrong.

Menu Planning Software | KitchenCUTWe at Kitchen CUT believe chefs and managers should not be spending endless hours managing their costs, but they should be spending more time with their customers, their teams and in their operations. That is why we have created a very easy to use system that automates most of your administrative tasks. Controlling your margins, managing and tracking your wastage and seeing which dishes are performing on a daily basis, will give you and the teams the financial transparency in your business at a click of a button.

With that transparency, you will be able to make simple tweaks and adjustments to your dishes and menus, that will have a huge impact on margins and profit, without effecting customer experience. Anyone can improve their margins by buying cheaper products and hiking their selling prices, however this is going to noticed by the customer and they will go elsewhere. Too often chefs punish their customers for their inability to control their costs and margins.

Most businesses will struggle or even cease trading due to not being able to make enough profit, give yourself a fighting chance and free up more time to do things that enhances customer experience. Start to use Kitchen CUT and change the way you and your teams work and reap the rewards thousands of our members get across the 56 countries we operate in.

Take a tour of the software for yourself and then get in touch with us to see how we can help.

Email or call +44(0)330 113 0050


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