Step away from the sacred cows

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By John Dickson | Chairman

Web-image_Step-away-from-the-sacred-cowsThis is the first of three articles where we’ll talk about the rapidly changing food and beverage market. Written by John Dickson, Chairman of DWS Hospitality Specialists, these articles are based on a recent presentation delivered at the National RSL Clubs Conference.

So let’s talk about F&B, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be.

For those of you Salt-N-Pepa fans out there, these lyrics, albeit slightly modified, pretty much sum up what we are going to talk about in this 3-part article series. The Club industry is long disparaged for our inability to move quickly with the times, and to be frank, it’s time we stood up and took notice of the trends.

The hospitality industry is a highly competitive marketplace and those not willing to change, or keep up with the expectations of their target audience, will quickly find themselves suffering from declining profits and possible closure.

I can already hear the cries from the caucus “But we have been doing this for years?” and “It’s what the vocal minority expect of us.” I’m going to stop you right there and tell you firmly that you need to move away from these ‘sacred cows’ and keep up with the rapidly changing landscape, it’s becoming critical for a Club’s survival!

So how do you cost effectively keep up with trends … here are some internal options to get you started:

  • Sisters are doing it for themselves – but they shouldn’t have to! Take a minute to think about who controls where a household spends their dining and entertainment money … I’ll give you a hint … it’s women. That’s right, the mums, wives, friends, sisters, grandmothers, and all the single ladies – they are at the forefront of the decision-making process and many Club menus for example are not appealing to many of them particularly under 50s. Consider adding petite options of the traditional steak, plus more nutritional options for the kids. Also, let’s look at keeping the ladies bathrooms a little nicer, a little cleaner and a little easier to find, and have more of them.
  • Healthier options – the rise and rise of food conscious diners means that vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and soy based options are a quick and profitable addition to otherwise traditional menus to grab the attention of the healthy eaters. Generally, people with special food preferences or needs are happy to pay a little bit more to get what they want.
  • Embrace the coffee revolution – the smell of fresh roasting coffee is enough to start your average Aussie salivating and looking for the source – make good coffee and you will never have an empty cafe. Invest in training, equipment and blends to capture this lucrative market (remember … the margins on good coffee are outstanding) and make it pretty, latte art is no longer a wish it is an expectation.
  • Value over price – with the increasing popularity of eat street style venues and the food van culture, no-one is going to object to eating roast, fish and chips or noodles in a smartly designed cardboard box with coloured plastic cutlery served over the counter if they’re only paying $8.50. Give them the experience, the value and the price they want. Pop up is ‘so hot right now’ and your venue, car park or grounds are the perfect place to host regular alternative eating options.
  • Old fashioned desserts – It’s true, Grandma made it better and now your Chef needs to master this lucrative nanna night time cuisine. Think fresh, in-house prepared apple pie prepared daily with fresh strawberries and double cream, try the old Bombe Alaska for party groups with plenty of sparklers. They will love it.
  • Source local and enjoy the benefits – find local suppliers and products and be sure to tell your patrons that ‘Betty’s hobby farm just down the road grew these vegetables with love just for them’ people appreciate the support for local small business and will in turn feel a strong desire to support you.

Our next article in this series will take a long hard look at the digital world, so in the meantime, why not choose, at the very least, one of the above trends and try and work it into your venue. We are confident that you will see results that will make you and your bottom line happy.

If you need a hand to cut through the myriad of trends to find the right mix for your venue, why not give us a call on (07) 3878 9355 and organise a private and confidential conversation about how to bring your venue up to date and keep on top of it, without breaking the bank.

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