Always keep up with the times
According to the METRO Start-up Study, the lack of qualified staff is not the only challenge faced by entrepreneurs in the hotel and food service industry: almost half of self-employed individuals (49 per cent) find it difficult to constantly reinvent themselves in order to keep meeting customer expectations. Indeed, hardly any other sector is as fast-paced as the hotel and food service industry. Whether it’s theme dining, street food festivals or vegan restaurants – new trends are always popping up. Many newcomers are eager to experiment: a Berlin-based start-up has mixed coffee and soda and is marketing the new beverageunder the name Kaffeenade. The founders of TeaTales want to become the Starbucks of the tea world. And the Hamburg-based company The Big Balmy sells gourmet burgers from a food truck, following a trend that began in the United States: a new kind of mobile snack bar offering high-quality dishes made from the finest ingredients.
“Once the novelty of the business has worn off, entrepreneurs must try to keep things rolling and remain appealing to customers in the long run,” Manfred Troike explains. It’s crucial to distinguish real trends from passing fads. Homemade and local products, for example, will probably enjoy great demand over the long term. But even long runners like these need to go the extra mile. “Trends just make up the building blocks. Every food service provider must add something extra, a special touch, something that will set them apart from the crowd,” Troike emphasises.
Networking is an important ingredient for success and a way to keep up with the times. Chatting with colleagues or visiting trade fairs such as the Berlin Food Week, Intergastra in Stuttgart or Internorga in Hamburg are all good ways of doing this. METRO GROUP is also promoting exchange: at the Innovation in Retail Meetup at the company’s Düsseldorf location, entrepreneurs present their ideas and business models for discussion with other entrepreneurs, start-up experts and rep- resentatives from METRO. Shortly after its launch at the end of 2014, the bimonthly meeting had become a popular industry networking event.
Furthermore, every self-employed individual must regularly question his or her approach. Opportunities to develop a business are manifold: Does the menu need updating? Can the atmosphere be optimised for the guest? Can advertising and marketing be improved? The latter applies to the internet – a restaurant without a website is practically impossible! But many businesses are still lagging behind: 35 per cent of hotels and food service providers are not yet active online; over three quarters do not use an online booking platform.