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The World Has Changed, So Must Your F&B!

You have got to be better than your local restaurant competition when it comes to F&B. Here’s how to get started.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Robert J Nyman
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Just when you thought things were getting better, we are now facing turmoil in the Middle East, rising gas prices and some uncertainty in the additional costs in doing business. I guess you too remember when Jimmy Carter was President, since that is the last time, until the present day, that those multiple situations have occurred. But we have faced many worldwide issues, business costs escalating and the Hospitality Industry continues to survive and in many years prosper too. Looking at the past is no sure fired barometer for the future; however we can most certainly learn by our successes and failures as we chart the new ground and challenges currently facing us.

We have learned to move faster, quicker and with more decisiveness as the world is forever evolving as to what our respective guests/customers are anticipating in hospitality, service, entertainment, ambiance and of course food and libations. I for one do not believe in the old adage “one size fits all,” oh sure a certain part of our guests like to “have it their way,” but it appears more and more that our customers or should we say “guests,” want some type of individuality, uniqueness or just a differentiator from the rest of the marketplace.

The rise of individual style in hotels, more personalized service, attention to the smallest details and the constantly evolving of new food items and specialty cocktails and small craft beers are definitely in vogue. For sure there is a segment of the hospitality industry that believe the “cookie cutter” approach is what guests are looking for and they point to Starbucks and McDonalds and others as to offering a consistent product and guest satisfaction. However, why is there now some hotel companies outsourcing their Food & Beverage operations? Well it’s likely this is because of guest dissatisfaction with the current and sometime dated offerings, poor sales, an ROI with their existing offerings and lack of attention to guests likes and dislikes when it comes to food, concept and ambiance. So are we going thru a metamorphis of change?

As we travel around from city to city it is obvious there is a distinct difference of opinion about what works and what doesn’t as it relates to what’s the best approach to hotel and restaurant food, beverage and most importantly guest satisfaction. The concept that a restaurant is an amenity to a hotel operation seems to be fading from the current thinking and business model.

As an example I recently asked a Corporate F&B Executive of a large national and international hotel chain their overall approach to new restaurants for their various hotel projects, he outlined for me that if they could they would lease out as many restaurants as they could in their hotels, but couldn’t because of two reasons, first most hotel owners “expect” the company to operate the restaurant at the hotel for profit and reputation and second, they are reluctant to make investments or deals with outside restaurant ventures as it is not their philosophy.

On the other hand there is another major hotel company that recently offered up most their entire portfolio of hotels for outsourcing, including some hotels complete F&B operations with catering, room service and bar/lounge too! So which company and executive is correct, will time tell the answer or guest satisfaction scores or maybe the ROI?

I suggest that if you want to find the answer and where we are going for the future, you survey your area hotel and restaurant competition, look at the performance of several F&B operations and measure them against your own, be fair in your appraisal and then rank your own operation against the others and give each a score on a 25 point scale using 1 as the lowest score and 5 as the highest for the following areas; concept, menu offering, service, reputation/guest ratings and once you have compiled your findings share them with your management team – but first ask them to rate your operation and competition too. Then the next step to take and it’s a slippery slope, offer to your top guests or corporate clients the opportunity to dine at the top three restaurants in your survey as your guest – and see what they chose, then you will have a true barometer of guest satisfaction and popularity. As they say, be careful what you wish for and be prepared for some cold water and disappointment if they don’t choose your restaurant. But if you want to know where we are going, it certainly will give you some food for thought---or better yet some thought for food for the future.
Robert Nyman    Robert J Nyman
Nyman Group

Bio: As President of The Nyman Group, Robert J. Nyman steers the company along its course with agility and experience. He began his career in a family-owned liquor store and delicatessen, but really began to “cut his teeth” in the industry with Restaurant Associates, where he served as Director of Operations in the airport division, a position which he held for six ...
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