How Food Entrepreneurs Can End Their Everyday Firefighting

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Building kitchens of tomorrow.

If your restaurant business is a forest, a place you are trying to protect, a fire holds the potential the burn it down. In the business world, firefighting refers to fixing urgent, unexpected, and devastating problems. Firefighting is about finding quick solutions to sudden issues that arise out of nowhere. Soon enough, you will find the flare-ups becoming a little too usual if you only focus on quickly settling the issue instead of attacking the problem at the root.

Firefighting is not the same as problem-solving

If you find yourself constantly fighting fires in your food business, you’re only tackling the surface problems you can see, when a whole other area of your business may be on fire. As a firefighter, you’re not calmly reflecting on and taking stock of things. Why? Because you’re not taking a problem-solving approach. You’re only fixing what needs to be fixed right now.

Do this long enough and you’ll find yourself moving from one fire to the next and never being prepared enough. On the other hand, once you decide to identify and fix the root cause, you’re solving the actual problem and mitigating the risk for the future.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be a problem solver, not a firefighter. Here’s how to do it.

Fight the urge to forget about it

Once you’ve put out a fire, do not just forget about it. It’s easy to slip into a mode of relaxation once a fire is out. Instead, take the opportunity to conduct a post mortem of things. Think about why a problem occurred and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.

Look at the bigger picture

Looking at the bigger picture is a challenge many entrepreneurs struggle with. Instead of assuming a reactive mode where you’re only responding to problems, take a moment to gain clarity on what’s really happening with your business. Step back from the noise, get some perspective, and think about what you ought to do in the longer run. In many cases, this will mean establishing new processes or correcting old ones that cause problems in the first place.

Reduce dependence on humans

While it’s people that run the show in a food business, it’s also them that are responsible for a whole lot of fires. Of course, we’re not asking you to get rid of your employees and replace them with machines; but wherever possible, automate processes. For instance, most restaurant businesses suffer from high attrition, which can sometimes prove to be too costly to sustain. If you find yourself stuck deep in a spiral of hiring and interviewing every two months, it can make sense to look at tools and software that reduce your dependence on manual effort, especially where labour costs are high (in the kitchen, for example).

Delegate effectively

A common cause behind frequent fires is business owners’ inability to determine which tasks are important and which are urgent. Once you learn to prioritize tasks that need your intervention, you will be able to delegate the others. Have a system in place to determine tasks need you to work on them.

One of the systems is the Ishikawa diagram also called the cause and effect diagram or the fishbone diagram (Will write a separate article on the same) is a cause analysis tool. The idea behind it is to find out the root cause of a problem. Developed during the 1960s, it is considered the gold standard for measuring quality control processes.

This concept divides the problem causes into these types: Man, Materials, Machine, Methods, Measurements, and Environment. If there is an issue when any of this system, it would reflect in the organisation. Unfortunately, one fin is missing in the food and beverage industry. The Machine (read Kitchen Robotics and automation) is a component that is rarely leveraged.

Kitchen Automation can help you reduce the time taken to prepare food, reduce service costs, faster delivery, higher profitability and so on. In business, a fire can emerge from anywhere. The trick is to take proactive, not reactive measures. Once you can solve problems even before they happen, you will not find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place when those big problems arise.
A business that can identify and solve underlying problems will reap the benefits of infrequent (and ultimately ceased) fires. This will free up your time as an entrepreneur to focus on actually growing your business instead of dealing with issues on a daily basis.
Are you into Food business wanting to find the missing fin (Machines)? Mukunda Foods can assist. Our kitchen bots are serving at more than 2000 kitchens across 22 countries. Feel free to reach out to me on dibyananda@mukundafoods.com