8 foodservice industry problems and how to overcome them

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Consumer behaviour is constantly evolving due to unforeseen circumstances that are out of our control. As it stands, businesses are faced with difficult circumstances due to the current industry landscape. The question you need to ask yourself is; do you feel that your restaurant, café, bakery, or hotel could run better than it does now? Whatever the case, businesses need to adapt quickly. 

In this article, we will list eight common problems that the foodservice industry is challenged with.

Here’s how you can develop strategies to overcome these challenges.

Your menu

A great menu is a real balancing act.


One of the most common mistakes any hospitality business makes is:

Problem: menu positioning

Is your menu up to scratch? Is it a large menu? If the answer is yes, consider that large menus come with a set of problems. It can take consumers longer to order, which leads to longer ticket times in the kitchen, and even longer to serve. You’ll also be required to buy more ingredients.

Solution: innovate your menu 

Make your menu design simple and easy to read. It needs to be presentable and feel like a tour for consumers, and encourage them to order at a faster rate. It needs to reflect current food and beverage services. Most importantly, it needs to be easily accessible on your website, as well as be mobile responsive for consumers who search for your business via their smartphones.

Customer service and interaction 

First impressions are crucial in making your business memorable.

Problem: poor service 

Having an establishment with great food is not enough to keep customers happy. Poor service can have negative impacts on business performance.

Solution: offer quality and personalised service 

Customers want to be listened to, and feel heard. Ensure that your staff pay attention to your customers’ individual needs and offer these with exceptional care.

Unique selling point (USP) 

Ask yourself the question: “why should customers dine at my restaurant and not the restaurant next door?”

Problem: not defining your unique selling point

A fantastic menu and excellent customer service are essential to the success of your business, but they are not a unique selling point. These are just minimal requirements.

Solution: find an innovative idea unique to you 

An innovative idea and reason for customers to repeatedly return to your restaurant is a necessity.


Managing the ‘basics’ of your business is critical to the businesses’ profitably.

Problem: focusing too much on the basics 

This can result in many small restaurants not paying attention to other important business aspects as they manage the day-to-day operation of their restaurant.

Solution: pay attention to other contributing factors 

This includes how many customers you are serving each day, keeping track of what sells and what doesn’t sell. If an item is not selling a minimum number per day, take it off the menu. Keep an eye on what your most profitable menu items are, and find out if these profitable items are selling more than the least profitable items. Find out what your profit and loss for each week you are open.


If you know the answer to these questions, then this will make the decisions easier and benefit the success of your business.


Supporting and retaining employees can save your business time and money, as well as maintain valuable skills that may be difficult to replace.

Problem: lack of support 

Your staff wants to feel supported by you; if they don’t feel that they’re more likely to search for another job in another establishment.

Solution: implement these following steps 


  • Be firm, fair and flexible – staff need to know what your minimum expectations of them are from day one. Be flexible; this industry has odd hours, so staff need normality some weekends as well.
  • Lead by example – show leadership, integrity and maturity at all times.
  • Review and reward – commit to staff reviews regularly, implement staff bonuses and rewards.
  • Communication – communication is vital to any relationship, and your communication with staff is no exception.
  • Give feedback - good or bad feedback is important to staff and constructive, meaningful and real feedback will do amazing things for your staff and lead to improved work performance.


Remember that when you put great emphasis on your staff, you’ll reduce costs over time and enhance your diners’ customer service experience.


Marketing is all about the engagement between you and your customers. A great marketing plan can do wonders for a business.

Problem: neglecting or using marketing tactics that don’t work

Neglecting to do any marketing or using tactics that have not yielded results is going to hurt your business.

Solution: develop a marketing strategy using the following tips 

  • Firstly, create a marketing plan – set yourself a goal on what you want to achieve and make it specific (using the SMART method). It should be short term, 6 to 12 months to begin with.
  • Formalise your brand standards – this includes a mission statement, logo, graphics, guidelines, etc.
  • Think digital – social media and websites are essential.
  • Respond to comments on review sites.
  • Network within your community and businesses in the area – they can help you with spreading the word.


Be creative with your marketing. Whatever your budget, there are inexpensive ways to market your restaurant.

Cash flow 

Cash flow is like the lifeline of your business.

Problem: poor cash flow 

There are many reasons why a business might suffer from poor cash flow. You need to find out what those are.

Solution: manage cash flow using the following tactics 


  • Make sure that you're getting the most from your menu – if you feel prices are too low or that you can get more from some of your products, increase the price.
  • Stock and work-in-progress – manage your stock and ensure you have a rotation method to reduce wastage.
  • Budgeting and management reporting – also really important when it comes to managing cash flow.


Owners should plan to have at least enough money to run for one year. Additionally, restaurant owners need to have enough financial resources to cope with unexpected costs and increases.


Finding a happy work-life balance is very difficult when owning your own business.

Problem: finding a balance 

Finding the time to do the ordering, financials, rosters, menu changes, marketing and dealing with the day to day isn’t easy.

Solution: be organised using the following tips 

  • Planning – get a weekly routine so that people know where and when you are going to be in or out.  This way, when you’re in, you’re in. When you’re out, call if it’s urgent.
  • Prioritising – set yourself lists of what’s important and get these done first. Most of the time, the non-important stuff gets done before the important stuff.
  • Delegating responsibilities – train your staff and allocate them responsibilities. Not only does it take the workload off of you, but it gives them something to learn and a sense of importance.


Being as organised as possible is the most important factor so that every minute you’re not there, you can relax and enjoy the time away to switch off.


The ultimate goal of any business is to grow. To achieve that, you have to run your business better. The above strategies can help you grow and lead you towards becoming an industry leader. Reach out to Nestlé Professional to choose from our list of food and beverage solutions to add your business.