Tips on Scaling Up Food Production & How to Know It’s Time

Chefs preparing sushi in a commercial kitchen

Congratulations, you’ve finally started your food business and you’re running it to a level of success! 

Your customers are delighted, your staff are keeping happy and you’ve started to exceed those business targets that you set in what seems like a lifetime ago. So, what’s the forward plan?

When operations are running smoothly and you’re confident in your product, it’s easy to become complacent and remain functioning at your current pace for ease, or because it’s more than enough to get by. But what about if you want to keep achieving and surpassing all of your expectations? …well, then it’s time to look at scaling up food production

What is Scaling Up Production?

Before you continue through our hacks for scaling up your business, there’s one thing to note – scaling a business and growing a business are two different things. 

The scalability of a company depends largely on capacity, and that your business can efficiently manage an increase in sales or output. If you don’t have the capability for this influx – and the ability to manage it reasonably – you’ll be left with unhappy customers, stressed-out staff and a business that is now compromised in other areas. 

Is Your Business Ready for Larger Scale Operations?

Knowing when you’re ready and choosing the prime time to scale up a business is the most crucial point between a successful – or unsuccessful – scaling up. 

Advancing your production when you’re not actually in a position to handle, it can result in food or product of an unsatisfactory standard, overworked or insufficient staff numbers, missed orders, extremely long waits and possibly not enough stock to fulfil the orders. The one thing all of these problems have in common is the unhappy customers at the end of them. 

So how do you know your business is ready to up the ante? 

Exceeding Goals

One of the most surefire ways to know your business is ready for the glow-up you’re dreaming of is if you are exceeding your current goals, and exceeding them consistently. 

Surpassing your goals every day is fantastic, and rightly so, you should reflect on your achievements and be proud of the successful business that you have built so far. However, once your objectives have become almost too obtainable, pushing back the goalposts and aiming bigger and better is the only way for your food business to keep growing.

Whether your progress is based on revenue, customer reach, sales or production volume, there is always scope to expand your horizons.

Reliable Cash Flow

Many scale-ups fail when business owners believe the timing is right just because the business is profitable. Running at a profit is an amazing achievement and a great sign you’re on the right track to scale up, but expansion shouldn’t be decided on this measure alone. 

When using cash flow as an indicator for scaling up, it’s much more effective and a trustworthy representation of your business to assess previous revenue and use this to create a forecast for months, even years in advance. 

If the gap between your most and least profitable periods is not too dramatic, this is another good indicator you’re ready for scaling up the business.

Strong Concept

A strong concept doesn’t just mean a brand that works for your customers, but an internal infrastructure that works for your staff, too. After all, if you have no staff, you can’t run any business. Before taking the plunge and expanding, assess what you already have, what you already offer and decide if it is sufficient.  

Internally you should take a look at your staff roster and ensure you have employees who are reliable, loyal and always willing to put in a good performance when on shift. If not, scaling up your business might prove too much for them and you can’t complete what you set out. 

Your brand and product concept should also be reviewed, to ensure it is meeting and preferably exceeding your customers’ needs or wants and that the quality of your offerings is always consistent and at the highest level that it can be. 

Turning Down Business 

One of the best ways to determine if you’re ready to scale up operations is if you have consistent, steady sales, to the point you’re having to turn away new business due to high demand. 

When you’re in the process of starting and growing your business, building a loyal community or customer base is the key to stable sales, social media engagements or word of mouth recommendations, all of which will expand your reach even further, strengthening your income and ability or need to expand.

If you combine this loyalty with a delicious high-standard product, you might find yourself having to turn down sales or clients because you can’t keep up with demand – then we’ve got some good news, you might be ready to scale up!

How to Scale Up a Food Business

So there we have it, the easy bit is done. You’ve ticked all of the boxes above and you’re now taking the opportunity to move onto bigger and better production. 

Now here comes the hard bit… HOW do you scale up your quality production? Let’s take a look at some tips on scaling up a food business steadily, successfully and safely!

Focus on Your Customers

Without any customers, you have no sales, without any sales, you’ll have no business to scale up! 

Focusing on your customers is the most crucial element at any stage in your business, but it’s extra important not to neglect this when you’re scaling up production, too. 

Things that impact your consumers are, of course, the quality and taste of your food or product, swift delivery and cooking times, impeccable customer service, reasonable prices and making them feel valued as a customer – just to name a few

If tweaking your product process or volume is going to impact any of the above with your current business infrastructure, the first step in your scale-up should be putting the procedures in place to reinforce your ability to look after your customer first and foremost. 

Build an Online Presence

Building an online presence should be a given these days, especially for businesses without a storefront that can be discovered through footfall. But all too often, food businesses forget the importance of social media these days!

Competition is HOT, and if you’re not building an online presence for yourself, you can be sure your competitor is and pinching some of your customers. Having a strong online presence will help you to reach much wider audiences, and strengthen the community feel amongst your current customers, making them more likely to return time and time again. A returnee customer is just as important as a new customer in a scale-up!

Use Technology or Automation When Possible

Investing in technology and grabbing opportunities for automation can make it cheaper and more efficient to scale up a food business. 

If you pride yourself on homemade and fresh products, we don’t mean you have to invest in food processing tools but think about automation technology that can handle your sales and deliveries without the need for manpower, saving you some precious time amongst current staff, and saving the need to invest money in hiring and extra pair of hands. You can gain huge traction in your scale-up process with less labour.

Areas, where you can look to implement technologies and automation, include marketing software, CRM, POS systems, inventory management, delivery sales, accounting, plus so many more. 

Building a Top Tier Workforce

Your business is only as good as your staff.

We could end this point here, but for the sake of this blog – we’ll divulge a little more!

For a successful business, especially one that is in the scale-up period, you need staff who are passionate about the business, who are reliable, trustworthy and brimming with ideas to help you along. 

If your employees are slap hazard with their work, the quality of the product will decrease, if they’re late to work or consistently phoning in sick then you might struggle to keep up with the demand on the day and just in general, if the staff morale and buzz is high in the workplace, your outcomes, in general, will be far more impressive in the long term. 

As a word of advice, we recommend assessing your employees and being confident that you have the optimum workforce ready and raring to go BEFORE you start the scaling stage!

Our commercial kitchens, dark kitchens and cold rooms offer an efficient and cost-effective environment to scale-up any food business, used by businesses of all sizes. Arrange a viewing to our practical and convenient kitchen spaces that meet all food safety requirements, and provide a reliable working hub for start-ups and scale-ups alike. 

by Dephna

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