How to Keep Your Man-Power Lean in your F&B Business
It is no longer news that Singapore has rolled out tighter restriction policies to keep the manpower lean in the F&B industry. If this has left you bewildered, you don’t have to be. As a matter of fact, there are several options that could help you operate on a leaner scale without losing efficiency.
The F&B business is traditionally labour-intensive. To operate a standard restaurant, you have to hire manpower to get supplies, make the food, serve the food, and even guard the door. There are probably a dozen other areas where you hire workers.
The new policies have transformed all that. So, as an F&B business owner, how can you stay compliant with these new policies without hurting your business? We’ve sieved out a couple of alternatives that will significantly help you cut back on the number of workers your business requires:
Grab-And-Go Food Kiosks
Food kiosks are one effective alternative if you want to cut back on staff. In fact, while just starting out, you can even run everything as a one-man-show. With a few tools and just a number of menu items, you can easily manage a grab-and-go kiosk. A perfect example would be Doco Donburi at the International Plaza.
Many times the owners of the kiosks have everything they need prepared but lack the fundamental knowledge to manage a kiosk. You really don’t have to burden yourself. The most important thing is to find a good location. The location is a key point to achieve or exceed the sales raised.
It’s ideal to situate at a place where the influx of people is large, this ensures that your kiosk has enough visibility and accessibility. Another point to take into account is that it is located between buildings, offices, factories, schools, hospitals, etc. since your kiosk will be the point of reference for people who live around or visit these establishments.
While you may be conflicted on whether to provide a space for people to dine in, it doesn’t have to take up too much space. Think about it, if you’re situated somewhere human traffic is high, chances are they’ll be too busy to dine in anyway. Providing a grab-and-go option makes it convenient for them too. This alone will cut back on the extra duties for your staff, such as having to take orders and clear tables.
People will line up by your kiosk to get their food themselves. You can even automate part of that process with a self-ordering or self-payment machine. Even if it’s necessary to hire additional staff, it would be due to the need to make more food.
Probably at the beginning, it is best not to employ anyone. With this, you avoid an expense that you can easily use somewhere else. Try as much as possible to handle operations on your own for the first few months, or at least try to manage a kiosk with a partner and split the hours of service. This would help keep the workload lean and compliant with government restriction policies.
Food trucks are a perfect way to cut down on manpower. Just like a food kiosk, meals made in a food truck are usually meant for takeaways. However, there is one advantage that food trucks have over food kiosks – and that is mobility. One food truck business doing well in Singapore is Coffee Bandits.
Since a food truck is basically a kitchen on wheels, you can decide to set it up at various locations throughout the day. For example, if there is an area with a lot of foot traffic in the morning, you might want to locate within that area. Later in the evening, you might want to move closer to places where residents enjoy the nightlife.
The idea here is that you are not restricted by location. You can simply adapt your location to times and events. This doesn’t mean you can just grab a truck and start. You are in the F&B business, so you answer to the NEA and other relevant authorities, who must approve your back-end kitchen before you start.
Setting up is not too expensive. You can get a truck yourself, rent one, or convert a truck. Then, you have to be licensed to operate. The initial setup, understandably, is the most tedious part of the business. After getting a truck, you can start with just a small number of food items on the menu.
Like the food kiosk, you can get started on your own and if things get too much for you to handle alone, get a family member or friend to partner with you.
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If you want an F&B business that you can run without any manpower on-site supervising the operations, owning vending machines is a brilliant idea. Chef-in-box and iJooz are prime examples. Apart from stocking and restocking from time to time, you can totally leave the vending machines to attend to customers on their own.
This means that you can keep running your business even while you sleep. Since vending machines take up very little space, your rental costs would be greatly minimized. You can choose to partner with stores and malls, that will allow you to position your machines along strategic places at a fee.
Since all you have to do is to prepare the meals and have them ready to replenish the supplies in your vending machines, the manpower you really need is minimal. Not only would you be staying compliant to the government policies, but you’ll also be effectively reducing overhead cost.
Meal Delivery Services
The Internet has made it easier than ever to run businesses, eradicating the need to be in a particular physical location. This is the advantage of this option over food kiosks, food trucks, and vending machines. From the comfort of your kitchen, you can prepare meals and showcase them online. Grain is a business that does this well.
You can have a few satellite kitchens with just a handful of manpower operating them. These places will then deliver to the areas within a certain radius to them. Since the ordering and payment happens online, you don’t have to worry about setting up seating space or hiring waiters.
The only part where you would need some manpower would be in the delivery process. Even then, this can be properly managed with a watertight delivery system. Another option is to deliver the food to a nearby location where the customers could be notified to come and pick-up their food themselves.
There are other alternatives to consider, apart from the ones mentioned above. These can help you supplement your income. Some of them are listed below:
Food carts make for a cheaper alternative. You can have the food prepared in advance and transported to serve passers-by. Ideal foods for this model are ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, and kebab.
Bus restaurants are not cheap to start, but they are an alternative, nonetheless. They are usually constructed with double-decker buses, with the diners eating in the upper deck while the kitchen operates in the lower deck. You would require a bigger space to pack because of the sheer size of these buses.
Mobile Catering Business
Mobile catering business allows you to run operations similar to food trucks. The difference is that you only attend specific events you are hired for. The customer determines what kind of food you make and how large the food quantity would be. The good thing here is that you don’t have to worry about renting a space or selling all the food. All these have been paid for pre-preparation.
Running a F&B business with a lean manpower format, as directed by the government might seem mind-boggling at first but, as mentioned above, there are a myriad of options available. Each has its pros and cons, but then again, it’s up to you to optimise the pros for your business.
Take some time to study these alternatives carefully and choose which one(s) that best suits your ideals and goals.