Handling fluctuating demand can be difficult for owners of catering businesses, as there is a fine balance between giving customers what they want and running a safe and financially-viable concern.
Many catering business owners face a constant battle to find this balance, particularly in the early years when finances can be tight and customer demand still somewhat unchartered. This means it can be impossible for owners or managers to pack their commercial freezer with almost limitless supplies, as these may well go to waste if not used within safe time limits.
Even with a bottomless pit of money to hand, it is a mistake for owners to overstock and risk preventable waste; instead, there are steps that business owners can take to manage fluctuating demand in a far more cost-effective, environmentally-friendly way.
Research and experience
New businesses should have carried out plenty of market research, even before start-up, to enable the owners to have a good idea of what customers really want. Once operating, owners and managers should be charting levels of demand, ensuring that buying reflects sales.
Imagination for success
Stock rotation is essential to maintain safety levels, as described by the Food Standards Agency. This will not only ensure safety and minimise waste but can also prompt catering business owners to use their imagination more.
While a chest freezer from a company such as FFD Ltd may allow stock to be stored for months rather than days, stock rotation is still necessary. If faced with produce that needs to be ‘used up’, business managers must use their imagination to minimise waste and maximise profits.
This could involve coming up with a different way to use stock that will appeal more to customers or thinking up special offers that will work for clients and for the business’s bottom line.
Lowering choice to increase success
Handling fluctuating demand can be made much easier if catering businesses offer a limited choice of quality produce rather than a vast array of mediocre goods.
This selection should be based on good customer knowledge, along with an awareness of wider issues, times and dates. Good knowledge of the local calendar of events, for example, will ensure that business owners can be ready to handle demand and tailor-make menus to reflect customer interests at the time.