Aren’t we lucky? The UK has one of the most dynamic food industries in the world – and it’s all on our doorstep. Whether we choose to cook for ourselves, eat out, eat in, go to the big cities, roam across our countryside – everywhere we go there will be someone doing something amazing with food around every corner. Whether producer or supplier.
But that explosion of excitement for our taste buds means that the hospitality business – a huge part of the UK economy – is having to work even harder to stay ahead of the game. So if you are involved in this dynamic industry, how can you keep abreast of what is happening around you?
Focus on what you do best
If you are known for doing something really well, in these times of fast-change it is key to stay strong in your own space. However that doesn’t mean ignoring what is going on around you. Review all aspects of emergent trends to see whether any are right for you to incorporate that fit well with your brand.
Research, research, research
Speak to your team and your clients regularly about what’s caught their eye recently, where they’ve been, what they’ve eaten, what they’ve spotted on social media. You can’t have eyes everywhere, so encourage them to bring stories and ideas back to you. Is there anything you can adapt to help drive your business forward?
Host a food-lovers’ event or market
By welcoming in small suppliers, other food and hospitality providers to your space, encouraging new talent and emergent businesses, you can see who and what is happening locally. And what sort of customers they bring. This puts you at the centre of your local food industry. But if you haven’t the space for stalls and the public, why not provide a forum for local food businesses to meet and talk? You will hear all sorts of new thinking, initiatives and ideas.
Trial food trends on site
With the rise in trends such as sour tastes, vegan menus, flexitarian cooking, motherless meat, bring experts in for guest nights. See what flies, or what doesn’t engage your clientele.
Create your own trend
Most businesses look outwards to find new and different trends to help move forward, completely overlooking the fact that trends have to start somewhere… so why not with you? And remember, trends don’t have to be global or even national – they can be local too. If you’ve got a burning idea to do something new and different, investigate it thoroughly and give it a go. You can start small, but if it flies – allow it the time and space to grow. Support it with marketing and watch it flourish. Sometimes new ventures or themes are just the right thing at the right time, catch an audience’s imagination and away they go… What’s stopping you?
As with all trends – understanding which has longevity and which is just a flash-in-the-pan is critical. Which is where your vision and experience come to the fore. Shifting your business to focus on a trend that flares quickly and dies is dangerous, but welcoming a long-term fundamental shift in how we eat, recognising the potential underlying growth it can bring and adapting it to suit your business as it moves forward should be part of your strategic plan.
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