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Planning ahead is key...


If you are running a small business and food and drink isn’t your primary focus, you can make life easier for yourself by making time for a bit of forward planning.

Classics of your core offering?

To work out what your longer core menu looks like, the first thing is to identify who your core customer is and what they would expect. And then work out how to go slightly above those expectations to make a good impression. For example, if your customers would expect a nice cup of tea or coffee, could you add a little piece of premium chocolate or biscuit, or offer flavoured syrups in the coffee for that extra twist.

For your core offering, it is sensible to consider ‘crowd pleasers’ rather than something too quirky and potentially ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ to ensure longevity of your menu.

It is also worth considering what products you can use that have a reasonable shelf life and that you can therefore buy in bulk, giving you better prices per portion, and preventing unnecessary and costly waste. Another way of reducing waste is buying individually portioned items such as biscuits to maintain the quality and stop a whole pack of biscuits going soft if you only use a few every day.

Adding a seasonal twist

If your business relies on repeat custom, it is a good idea to consider adding some fun to your menu to make sure your regulars can have their usual cuppa if that's their choice but also have the choice to tuck into something adventurous now and again. This can also help as a point of difference vs your competitors, and therefore help drive footfall towards your business.

A relatively straight-forward way of doing this is tapping into seasonality; gingerbread syrup for your winter coffees, mince pies and mulled wine in December, and maybe a glass of prosecco for New Years.

Planning your seasonal additions can easily be done 6-12 months in advance, and this means that once you have got your core menu sorted and the forward planning done, all you need to do is ensure you keep coming back to place your orders, and that’s a job done.

Your customers choice…

If you are new to offering a selection of food and drink, you may want to buy smaller portions for a little while until you know which types of products are popular – again, this will help cost control and reduce waste and allows you to trial different options to get a feel for what your customers enjoy.
It is ultimately they who decide what keeps them coming back.