It is no longer news that Singapore has rolled out some tighter restriction policies to keep the manpower lean in the F&B industry. If this has left you bewildered, you don’t have to be. As a matter of fact, there are several options that could help you operate on a leaner model without losing efficiency.
The F&B business is traditionally labour-intensive. To operate a standard restaurant, you have to hire manpower to get supplies, make the food, serve the food, and even guard the door. There are probably a dozen other areas where you hire workers.
The new policies has transformed all that. So, as an F&B business owner, what can you do to stay compliant to these new policies without hurting your business? Below are a number of alternative formats that will significantly help you cut back on the number of workers your business requires:
Grab-And-Go Food Kiosks
Food kiosks are one effective alternative if you want to cut back on staff. In fact, in the beginning, you can run everything on your own. With a few tools and just a number of menus, you can operate a grab-and-go kiosk without a lag. A perfect example of such kiosks is Doco Donburi at the International Plaza.
Many times the owners of the kiosks have everything, but they lack the basic knowledge to manage a kiosk. You really don’t have to burden yourself. The most important thing is to find a good location. The location is a key point to achieve or exceed the sales raised.
This must be found at a point where the influx of people is large, that has visibility and easy access. Another point to take into account is that it is located between buildings, offices, factories, schools, hospitals, etc. since your kiosk will be the point of reference for people who live or visit these establishments.
Even though you may have an option for people to sit, it doesn’t have to take too much space. People don’t even have to sit. Just make the food and sell to them as they pass along. They will help you dispose of the waste themselves. This alone will cut back on staff taking orders.
People will line up by your kiosk to get their food themselves. You can even automate part of the process with a self-ordering or self-payment machine. Even if you get additional staff, that would be because you need more hands making the food.
Probably at the beginning, it is best not to employ anyone. With this you avoid an expense that you can easily use in something else. So try to take care of it on your own for the first few months, or try to open a kiosk with a partner, such as a friend or a relative, and you can distribute the hours of service. This would help keep things lean and compliant with government restriction policies.
Food trucks are a perfect way to cut down on manpower. Just like a food kiosk, the food made in a food truck is usually a takeaway. However, there is one advantage that food trucks have over the food kiosks – and that is mobility. One food truck business doing well in Singapore is Vatos Urban Tacos.
Since a food truck is basically a kitchen on wheels, you can decide to set it up at various locations throughout the day. For example, if there is an area with a lot of foot traffic in the morning, you might want to pack close to this place. Later in the evening, you might want to move closer to places where residents enjoy the nightlife.
The idea here is that you are not restricted by location. You can simply adapt your location to times and events. This doesn’t mean you can just grab a truck and start. You are in the F&B business, so you answer to the NEA and other relevant authorities, who must approve your back-end kitchen before you start.
Setting up is not too expensive. You can get a truck yourself, rent one, or convert a truck into a food truck. Then, you have to be licensed to operate. The initial setup, understandably, is the most expensive part of the business. After getting a truck, you can start with a simple with just a number of food.
Just like the food kiosk, you can start on your own and get a family member or friend to partner with you as the sales increase. You don’t have to manage a big staff or worry about compliance. The very nature of the business keeps you compliant.
If you want an F&B business that you can run without any manpower on-site supervising the operations, owning some vending machines is a brilliant idea. Chef-in-box and iJooz are prime examples. Apart from stocking and restocking from time to time, you can totally leave the vending machines to attend to customers on their own.
This means that you can keep running your business even while you sleep. Since vending machines take very little space, your rental costs would be greatly minimized. You can choose to partner with stores and malls, who will let you position your machines at strategic places at a fee.
Since all you have to do is to prepare the meals and have them ready to replenish the supplies in your vending machines, the manpower you really need is minimal. Not only would you be staying compliant to the government policies, but you’ll also be effectively reducing overhead cost.
Meal Delivery Services
The Internet has made it easier than ever to run businesses, eradicating the need to be in a particular physical location. This is the advantage of this option over the food kiosks, food trucks, and vending machine. From the comfort of your kitchen, you can prepare meals and showcase them online. Grain is a business that does this well.
To scale is so much easier. You can have a few satellite kitchens with just a handful of manpower operating them. These would deliver to areas closest to them. Since the ordering and payment happen online, you don’t have to worry about setting up seating space or hiring waiters.
The only part where you would need some manpower would be in the delivery. Even then, this can be properly managed with a watertight delivery system. Another option is to deliver the food to a nearby location where the customers could be notified to come and grab their food themselves.
There are other alternatives to consider, apart from the ones mentioned above. These can help you supplement the income from the others. Some of them are listed below:
Food carts make for a cheaper alternative. You can have the food prepared in advance and transported to serve passers-by. Ideal foods for this model are ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, and kebab.
Bus restaurants are not cheap to start, but they are an alternative, nonetheless. They are usually constructed with double-decker buses, with the diners eating in the upper deck while the kitchen operates in the lower deck. You would require a bigger space to pack because of the size of these buses.
Mobile Catering Business
Mobile catering business allows you to run something similar to food trucks. The big difference is that you only attend specific events you are hired for. Since you are hired, the customer determines what kind of food you make and how large the food would be. The good thing here is that you don’t have to worry about renting a space or selling all the food. All these have been paid for.
Running an F&B business with a lean manpower format, as directed by the government might seem mind-boggling at first but, as you can see from this article, you have a whole lot of options. Each has its pros and cons, but then, all businesses have those.
So, study these alternatives carefully and choose which one(s) best suit your taste and goal. Just between us, which of these do you prefer?