You like numbers Nick… Write about financial success in catering, they said. Easy I said, until of course I had to put pen to paper.

As an operator in London, I could talk for hours about the actions we take to safeguard financial performance. But to avoid turning this into a dissertation, I promise I won’t.

I would like to wax-lyrical about the managerial tools I deploy to drive performance. Cost of sales tracking, financial forecasting, data analysis, products mix strategy, sadly I could go on. But for me these tools are part of a much wider and more interesting model. They only contribute a small part to contract success.

If there was more time, I could try to enlighten you (if I fully understood of course, and let’s face it does anyone?) on the macro-economic impact on our business of Brexit, inflation, strength of the £ and weather crises in the Mediterranean. But I work in ops, not procurement (or the government for that matter) so I will keep this more grounded.

You can have all the tools and experience in the industry, but unless you have an excellent team, your efforts to achieve financial success will be fruitless. This starts with the front-line, our team members. Great teams give great service… and great service builds sales. It is that simple. Great service drives repeat purchasing and this delivers and grows brand loyalty. Loyalty to use your services… again and again. Without a great team, consistency is a pipe dream and without consistency, forget about customer retention.

A great team needs a great leader and in our industry, this is found in General Managers, Head Chefs and Supervisors. They work every day to deliver the highest standards and excellence. They motivate their teams using tools to monitor and guide performance.  Relentlessly, they strive to be better than the day before.

In my view, financial success is down to two additional things, longevity and confidence in speculation.

We all love winning new client business, but unless you go into that project targeting a long term partnership, true financial success can never be achieved. You have to grow, be innovative, build trust and continue to progress. This demonstrates that you are the supplier of choice, both now and in the coming years. Client retention and partnership are key elements. Excelling every day to develop the business will lead to a longer, more mutually beneficial and financially sound business model.

This leads me to the importance of speculation. A wise person (my mum) once said to me, “You never regret your extravagances… only your economies”. And although the context (I think) was to encourage living a full life, the same outlook can apply to business. I have worked with many in the past who believed cutting cost was the best way to make money. Sure, it can work to some extent. But if the opportunity to grow exists, then grow you must. Keeping customers happy, spending and increasing footfall makes profit so much easier. I have never managed a contract with fantastic sales growth, where I was worrying about margin percentages and cutting costs. It’s a nice place to be.

So… to achieve financial success, focus on the future, the ‘big picture’ some might say. Don’t be frightened to build your offer… your service… your customer experience. Invest in and develop your team, and ultimately your sales and client relationships. Speculate for longevity. See… Easy!?