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Does your venue have a strategic plan?

Thursday, 17 October 2013 | By Trevor Jenkins

It doesn’t matter if you are just at the beginning of the start-up process or if you’ve been in business for some time; a strategic plan is a must for any hospitality business to create, modify and sit back and take stock of on a regular basis.


The strategic plan can be a simple task, broken up into each department or, if you want to take a holistic approach, you can take a bigger picture perspective.


If you’ve ever sat there and thought to yourself, ‘If only I could save some money within my venue’; or if you’ve looked at other venues and asked yourself, ‘How do they stay ahead of the game?’ there are a few really valuable things you can do.


Listed below are some to get the process started:


1. Strategic focus


  • What are you trying to achieve with this plan? Tighten your belt? Increase patronage? Improve the bottom line?


  • SWOT analysis. What are your ‘strengths’, ‘weaknesses’, ‘opportunities’ and ‘threats’? Write three main things for each category and be ruthless, it’s for your knowledge after all. It will help identify areas of improvement.


  • Mission and vision statements. Do you have them, are they authentic and do people understand them?


  • What are your businesses core values? These are your priorities as a business owner and hospitality provider – the customer experience, local produce, fair trade, cheap and cheerful?


  • List your business goals and prioritise them. How will you know if you’re doing well if you don’t have a yardstick to measure against?


2. The organisation


  • Analyse the business’ history if you’ve purchased an existing business.

This will give you valuable insights – see previous post.


  • What is the organisational culture? Do you run a tight ship or is it a relaxed casual feel?


  • What is your venue good at? Know what you’re good at and play to your strengths.


  • What is the venues biggest achievement to date? You have to celebrate your wins – no matter how small – to ensure you maintain your enthusiasm for the industry and demonstrate appreciation to your staff.


3. Market analysis


  • What are the trends/industry patterns? Are you up to date? Do you offer something that people are really looking for at the moment? Do you fit in with the current successful types of business?


  • Competitor’s analysis. What are your main competitors doing? How can you learn from them and what ideas can you modify for your own usage?


  • PEST analysis: political, economic, social, technological. PEST analysis is useful for marketing, business development assessment and decision-making. It is also a good way to get people to look at things differently.


4. Products and services


  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of each product/service you provide? Identify areas you’re lacking in and model after your most successful areas.


  • Put strategies in place to capitalise on opportunities. Using all the previous information, create and document opportunities for your products and services.


5. Marketing

  • (For new businesses) Market entry strategy. How are you going to hit the ground running – competing with established businesses – when you open your doors for the first time?

  • Market development strategy. Once you’re in the mix, how are you going to build your market share and keep your current customers happy?

  • Brand establishment. What do you want people to associate with your name? What look and feel do you want your business to have in the public eye?


  • Budgets. Realistic, conscious and honest budgets for future investment in the success of your venue.


  • Timelines. Planned upcoming opportunities, events and activities.


  • KPIs. Whether for you or your staff, create clear indicators of successful work practices and regularly measure, modify and reward.


6. Business systems and processes

  • Quality management. Know what your products look like at their best. Document, teach and reinforce this standard.


  • Risk management. Know what can possibly go wrong and plan for it. Be prepared.


  • Compliancy. Know what compliance standards you need to meet, and meet them. Ignoring these is a sure-fire way to go out of business – quickly.


7. Organisational structure

  • Organisational chart. For your reference and so all your staff know where they stand.

  • Management team. You’re not an island. Heed and take advice from a trusted group in your management team.

  • HR requirements. Hiring and firing and everything in between. Have your policies and procedures documented for your and your staff’s reference.


  • Position descriptions. These assist in recruitment and clarify work roles once on the job.


  • Industrial relation issues. Be aware of all hospitality industry IR issues, plan and prepare.


  • Performance management system. Know how to discipline successfully for improvement rather than hostility.


  • Training and development system. Hire the best for the job, train them and maintain your investment in their skill development.


As you can see from the list there is a lot that you can stand back and take a look at to assess the business at any stage of its lifetime. There are many more things that I can add to the list, but this is a very good starting point as it will raise questions you may not have the answers to right away.


There are many variations of strategic planning; these questions are just a portion of those used by Gastronomic Solutions when assessing a business. It allows complex issues to be broken down in an efficient and structured manner for further analysis. We have found that by using this method and including the staff and stakeholders in the process it encourages open conversation and brainstorming from people that normally may resist change.


It is useful to bring some of these questions up when you are having your weekly staff meeting and use the forum as an open brainstorming session. You may be surprised what your staff actually think of your brand, products or performance. It is these little golden nuggets of information that you can use to put together a successful strategic plan to move forward and stay ahead of your competitors.


For your business to strive do not be scared to ask the tough questions, it may hurt your ego at the time but I assure you, you will be thankful in the long run.