Catering with technology and competing for customers

by Willie Biggart

There are a lot of unknowns right now in the catering industry. Economically and politically it’s hard to predict what the rest of 2017 will have in store, but a recent report from the British Hospitality Association sheds some light on the state of the industry.

The BHA’s Food Service Management Report for 2016 is a great resource, not just for information relating to contract catering, but the hospitality industry in general. With Food Service Management employing over 900,000 people in the UK (almost a third of the hospitality workforce), it’s a sector that can influence the whole industry.

Growth and performance

The latest report’s respondents were optimistic about business, with a general expectation of increased revenue this year, continuing a 3-year trend of growth. A third of people polled expected turnover to increase 20% or more. This was despite uncertainty over economic conditions and concerns over staff recruitment and minimum wage increases.

In fact, while these last topics ranked highly as factors that will influence business performance in the future, they didn’t top the list. Technology was number one, with 64% of people polled mentioning it as a key factor. Greater use of apps, more payment options and data analysis were called out as important ways that technology will enable caterers to improve their service. Using the data that computers put at our fingertips and empowering business intelligence through tech is something that we’ve been focusing on recently, as we will shortly be adding Microsoft Business Intelligence to Spoonfed. Power BI is a great way to use the information that is available to you to produce actionable insights.

Beating the competition

As a reminder of how important it is to keep on your toes, 94% of people polled in the FSM report said that taking business from competitors is the best way to grow. This could be by keeping up with trends and increasing customer loyalty.

The report showed that the trend for ‘Street Food’ is going strong, with healthy, nutritional options close behind it. Aside from these, there was uncertainty about other trends on the horizon, although respondents foresee operational issues as being a likely approaching market trend - another opportunity for technology to make a difference

And a short announcement

We also have exciting news - Spoonfed is attending Vivatech in Paris! Vivatech is a huge conference celebrating innovation. We’re excited to be going and looking forward to seeing some great startups and tech behemoths. We might be showing some new features that we’ll add to Spoonfed shortly, so stay tuned...

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