by Amy Collett
The hospitality industry is one that holds an enduring appeal for entrepreneurs. In fact, according to statistics by the US Small Business Administration, over 60 percent of the food and accommodation sector is run by small to medium enterprises. Every day, millions of people daydream about opening their own bar, cafe, restaurant, or hotel. However, few of them go through with their plans, and even fewer succeed. The reasons for this vary, but there are some key concepts that underlie the success of any hospitality business, and which are often ignored.
Providing a good service isn’t always enough — in this day and age, you need to keep a close eye on what is being said about you online. Eighty-six percent of consumers read reviews of a local business to determine whether to use it, and this is increasingly becoming one of the main criteria influencing their decisions. This is why you need to become an expert at reputation management by monitoring and responding to reviews and comments across all social platforms. These tips by Status Labs are a good place to start.
A worrying amount of people open a hospitality business without ever having worked in the relevant sector. Opening a cafe without ever having worked as a barista is not the path toward success. If you simply don’t have any experience, surround yourself with people who do, roll your sleeves up, and commit to learning on the job.
Even if you do know the industry, you will probably need to learn how to be a manager and business owner as you go along. This is normal, and you will feel more confident as time goes on. However, if you want to increase your chances, there are a few classes that would be beneficial for you to take, whether online or at a local school.
We live in an age of convenience. People want fast, efficient service, and they want their transactions to happen seamlessly. This isn’t so much about the effectiveness of your staff (although this matters, and we go into more detail on that below) but about the overall flow of your business’ processes and your willingness to embrace new technology.
Take, for instance, payment. Nowadays, many people expect every business to have a credit card machine — in fact, only 12 percent of consumers prefer using cash. With the range of flexible, reliable, and affordable card machines available for SMEs, there is no excuse nowadays to not offer this service. If you’ve still not taken that step, it should be a priority for the coming year — you’re only going to lag further behind the competition if you wait.
Finally, one thing that the hospitality industry tends to overlook is staff satisfaction. Your staff is the face of the service you provide; make no mistake, if they are unhappy with their jobs, it will show. As a small business, regular raises in pay may not always be a realistic option, so learn how to boost employee happiness in other ways.
Another thing to watch out for is “the customer is always right” mentality. Anyone who has worked a day in the service industry knows that this is simply not true, and yet employers feel like the customers are more important than the employees. There is a strong argument for the opposite, so trust and defend your employees when necessary.
A career in the hospitality industry can be one of the most rewarding endeavors you will undertake, especially if you are starting your own business. However, it is important to be strategic and to keep in mind the factors that are likely to influence your success. If there’s one thing to remember, it’s to be forward-thinking — embrace new technologies and new ways of doing things, and you will never be left behind.
Amy Collett is the creator of Bizwell.org. She aims to provide professionals and entrepreneurs the extra boost their branding needs.