Get to grips with the figures
One of the basics of commercial awareness of a restaurant is understanding its facts and figures and how you translate excellent food and service into cold, hard cash. Ability to grasp profit and loss schedules and balance sheets, as well as factors that influence cash flow, will greatly improve commercial awareness. Learn what affects your business as opposed to others in different industries – for example, dealing with perishable goods, a large workforce with relatively high turnover, seasonal trends and small profit margins. It’s often useful to introduce weekly or monthly reports that provide basic statistics and identify trends and changes in traffic.
Time saving tip: if you are at a loss in terms of where to start with the numbers side of the business, take a course or hire a good accountant to help.
Research and establish an operating system for your restaurant
This is essentially a system of working that you can develop from insight and knowhow about your business, such as your customer base, your costs, your service processes and the team that you have. Initially, setting this up may take a little time but you will create a workable model that takes into account the commercial pressures on the business and which offers a way for it to function if you (the owner or the chef) are not physically there. This is one of the most effective ways to create a commercial awareness of your business as by the end of the process you will know it inside out.
Time saving tip: if you’re too busy running the kitchen to do this, there are third parties who can do all the data collection and analysis for you to absorb afterwards.
Use mobile tech and apps
Smart phones have changed our world and provide numerous ways to boost knowledge, insight and efficiency. These offer particularly useful channels for learning more about your industry and keeping up with the latest news and innovation. Sign up for updates from industry innovators and find a reliable news source that you can read on the way into work, or on the way home at night to stay in the know. There are many blogs and apps that investigate current trends, techniques, ingredients and innovations in the culinary world – following just a few of these could give you much greater commercial awareness with very little time commitment. Oh, and be sure to keep an eye on the CHEFIFY academy, of course!
Time saving tip: sign up for apps that will send you notifications about blogs, particular thought leadership pieces or news stories that are relevant to you, so that you don’t have to trawl through everything to get to them.
Avoid rose tinted glasses
Commercial awareness must be based in reality and that means understanding everything about a business operating in the food sector, especially the worst bits. Do you have a problem with waste and theft, do you have a staff retention problem, is your team taking on feedback and making improvements where needed? Is there good portion control in your restaurant, are staff being scheduled efficiently and are you actually giving customers what they want? Answering these questions will boost the knowledge you have of your business and make you better able to steer it towards success.
Time saving tip: introduce an audit or reporting system on a regular basis so that you are receiving information on the above issues if you don’t have time to compile it yourself.