The Many Hats of Food & Beverage Business Owners

SPONSORED: PolicySweet – customized insurance for Main Street retail and food businesses

One minute you’re being praised by customers; the next, you’re cleaning up after them. That’s exactly why your business is lucky to have you—you’re willing to do it all at any given time to keep standards high and set an example for your staff.

Hats off to you, boss.

And speaking of hats, here is a reminder of the ones you’ll need to wear so your food and beverage operation runs smoothly for years to come.

Before diving into the list, it’s important to understand that you can’t, nor should you expect to, claim each of these responsibilities as ultimately yours. Your time and energy are limited, which brings us to hat number one.

The Hiring Hat

A gut feeling will always be your most advanced hiring tool, but there are certain considerations that will empower you with the least chance for error. Even the smartest business owner can make the wrong hire occasionally, so it’s obvious that this is a never-ending effort—especially in an industry with excellent job prospects due to the large number of workers that leave the occupation each year, as told by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Keep in mind that the right hire doesn’t necessarily look the same for every business owner nor for every time of the year (or even every time of the day). It’s up to you to form the criteria that will benefit you the most. Should you place attitude above experience? Loyalty above work ethic? Perhaps it’s the other way around.

While you determine what’s most important for you and your business, here are some pointers that will help you the next time you’re considering a new candidate.

  • The $4,000 bet. Are you willing to bet that amount of money on the candidate in front of you? Check your gut.
  • The more, the less. The more responsibility an employee has, the less they’ll want to leave you. This means that you or your manager must perfect the art of interviewing entry-level candidates (bussers, runners, and cashiers). Meanwhile, managers, servers, bartenders, baristas, and cooks will usually bring up their needs and concerns to you before deciding to leave for another opportunity. Compromise? Also an art.
  • Work-Life balance. The burnout epidemic in hospitality is unlike any other, and even before worrying about resignations, you’ll probably have to deal with employees making mistakes due to being overworked. This includes your top performers, meaning that you’re putting at risk everything from cleanliness and prep times to taste and dining experience. It should go without saying that the consequences are far worse than a one-star review. On the other hand, if you genuinely work with candidates on agreeing to an above-average compensation in exchange for reducing their need for overtime, you’ll realize if you’re looking at a worthy candidate or the kind that won’t think twice about trading you for another employer.

The Marketing Hat

Having control of your business outside your walls may be just as important to you, but even seasoned marketers have to spend a great deal of time figuring out a strategy, as well as fine-tuning it along the way. This takes time, so don’t wear this hat for more than 8 hours/week. Instead, consider if you can set aside a budget for a consultant who can hear what you wish to communicate to your market.

If you’d rather spend less, don’t rule out handing the opportunity to one of your employees who has expressed interest in marketing and an affinity for social media (you’re on Instagram, right?). You’re also giving them another source of income that will anchor them to your business. What’s most important, you’re not sacrificing the time you need to allocate to revenue-oriented tasks, the ones that only you can do.

Empower those around you to do more and good things will come.

The Financial Hat

Bring on the spreadsheets! This is the kind of role that only you can do, for it’ll allow you to make educated decisions as soon and as accurately as possible. Becoming a P&L master can take some time, but it’s worth the effort considering that up to 60% of new business in this industry are forced to close down within the first three years, as stated on the research “Why Restaurants Fail” by Cornell University.

The Tech Hat

You don’t have to be a computer whiz to understand the digital needs of your business, and none are of greater importance than your POS. Prioritize security and monitoring above all else, including the ability to check on your business from your mobile device when you’re out and about.

Simplicity is key. Evaluate if your current POS falls into the time-consuming or time-saving category. Your staff will definitely have the answer. You want them to spend the least amount of time in front of it so they can get to taking care of your clientele.

Another advantage about today’s systems is their ability to provide data beyond sales. You’re looking at more than a fancy cash register, in that it offers the opportunity to evaluate employee performance and customer behavior, as well as have a more precise feel of your inventory.

Keep in mind that a good POS will open up the opportunity to take online orders and appeal to a new group of potential customers.

The Protective Hat

Maintaining safety starts with good training and a lot of common sense. However, accidents are also common, such as cuts and punctures, slip and falls, burns and scalds, plus the occasional sprain and strain. The National Council on Compensation Insurance found that restaurants are subject to an average of four workers’ compensation claims per year, each racking up approximately $45,000. But this shouldn’t be a worry when you see what we’ve included in PolicySweet Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

Meanwhile, you can protect your financial stability from any catastrophe that happens to your location, that results in lost income or the expense of setting up shop somewhere else. PolicySweet Business Owner Protection will look after your place of business, including the contents inside and so much more.

The Uncomfortable Hats

Every entrepreneur has different strengths: some love being in the kitchen, others entertaining patrons or looking at numbers and assessing processes. Our best advice is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and dive into tasks that you wouldn’t normally do, at least until you get a finer grasp of it, so you can nurture your intuition for hiring those positions or even filling in when there’s a no-show.

Find the hat that you’re least looking forward to wearing and we guarantee you’ll be glad you did. They may open your eyes to new business opportunities or discover you had a knack for it all along.

Visit PolicySweet.com/insurance/food, where we’ll help you apply for Workers’ Comp and Business Owners Insurance.