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Making food and drink a key part of your service offering

 Running a small business can be both rewarding and challenging, specially if you are looking to keep ahead of the local competition. Keeping all your plates spinning is not a simple task, and for many, developing a food and drink offering which is both on trend and a crowd-pleaser can be tricky. For many, food and drink may not be your main business but rather 'another job to do'. Here are a few pointers and suggestions that might help make your menu development process easier. 

1. Know your area / competitors – what do other similar businesses offer?

For example, if you are a hairdresser or an office based business, you may just want to be able to offer something simple whilst people wait. This means an instant coffee/tea/water and a biscuit is often the default solution. This usually is just fine. However, if the hairdresser a few doors down offers hazelnut cappuccinos and prosecco, you may want to reconsider…

2. Know your customers

Knowing your competitors is important, but it’s even more important to know your target customer. Your competitor may offer a premium drinks range because that is what their ‘high end’ clients are accustomed to. If you cater mostly for families, don’t get swept up with matching the competition. Consider what your target customer needs. In the above case, it may be more important to have smaller and healthier drinks options with colouring in sheets and crayons available to keep your customer’s children happy…. 

3. Keep it simple! 

Having a complicated offering that tries to be everything to everyone can be costly and complicated to maintain. Choose 'crowd-pleasers' and make sure you consider how much of each product you are likely to need. Make sure you also cosider pack sizes and shelf life before purchasing to avoid wast.

4. How will you serve it?

Have you got the right cups? Will you need napkins, cutlery etc.? Make sure you have a plan and factor the “cost to serve” into your calculations. Also, consider the ongoing focus on sustainability; are you using paper straws instead of plastic? Are you using recyclable plates? Make sure you look at the variety of non-food options and pick the right one for your business.

5. Make the most of special events 

Could you use special events in the local community or national celebrations to drive footfall to your establishment? You could consider offering mulled wine in December, prosecco for mother’s day or spooky cupcakes for Halloween. This adds a unique selling point to your establishment and is bound to bring in new customers through word of mouth. Click here to see our Let's make a date food and drink events you can take advantage of.

6. How will you communicate your offer? 

Will you have menus visible in your business, or train your teams to offer drinks to customers? Do you mention the menu and the special events on your website and social media platforms to help differentate against competitors? This is dependent on your business and your target customers. If you're targeting the younger generation, you may want to consider social media. If you're targeting the older generation, maybe service and conversation is more key. Just make sure you give thought into how you communicate your food offerin to keep loyal customers returning and new customers trying you out.


If you are new to serving food and drinks as part of your business, my two key pieces of advice would be to know your target customers and to keep it simple. Experience will help you adapt and expand your offering as your business matures. In the meantie, why not speak to your customers to get their first-hand feedback. Also keep checking back in with us on this site, and follow us on Twitter were we wil share information, trends, product launches and top tips.