23rd December, 2014

Is your cafe in need of more protection this summer?

The summer months typically bring an increase in customers to cafes and restaurants, as Australians take more time off work and share meals out with family and friends.

Supporting this is the latest retail figures, released on November 24 by IBISWorld. The report found that restaurants, cafes and food retailers can expect to see a 15.5 per cent year-on-year increase in sales this month.

Compared to November’s numbers, activity in this industry should grow by 24.9 per cent in December, influenced by corporate Christmas functions and other holiday events.

While consumption is high, competition and operations remain tough. With consumers walking through your doors in growing numbers, it is important that you can cope with the increased demand and are able to deal quickly and efficiently with any challenges that occur. One strategy is to review your cafe insurance to ensure all risks are covered before opening your doors to patrons.

Holiday challenges

Coffee retailers are likely to face several key challenges throughout the holiday period. Here are just three of the most important – and how you can mitigate their effect this summer.

  • Staffing shortages

Staffing is a significant challenge over the Christmas period, as taking on new workers requires time and other resources to be dedicated to recruitment and training. To cover growing demand over summer, cafe owners can utilise casual staff – giving them the flexibility to offer only the hours required. Training can still be an issue here, with every new employee needing time to learn your business and its practices.

When training your new staff, it’s crucial to be thorough to avoid customer complaints, damage to your reputation and avoidable accidents.

  • Reduced compliance and safety

When your staff are rushed off their feet, it can be easy for safety to be pushed aside for speed and efficiency. Getting coffees to customers before they check their watch and tap their foot can be tough when the queue begins to stack up, but the damage will be even worse if accidents were to occur.

Make sure your workers know all your policies and best practices regarding safety. Remember to stay vigilant about compliance, to avoid any injuries to both staff and your customers.

Of course, accidents will not always be avoidable, so it is crucial that you hold adequate workers compensation insurance to cover any resulting costs and liabilities.

  • Increased stock demands

Another challenge over summer will be increased demand on your stock and suppliers. Running out of coffee beans or milk at the wrong moment can cause customers to become frustrated and unhappy with your service.

On the other hand, overstocking can lead to you holding a lot of unused and expiring stock, which may require you to offer significant discounts to move items, or simply result in you throwing a lot away.

Try utilising your records from last year to forecast how much stock you may use over the coming months, and reports like the IBISWorld study above can help you to predict trends in demand.

Author: Murray Bruce