By Jess Mantell

From restaurants and bars to the food and drinks served within them, succeeding in this sector relies on both a passion for your product and a keen eye for finding cost and operating efficiencies. At a recent roundtable for CEOs, we heard about what was on the minds of these business – and how insight was providing a way to stay ahead of the game.

It’s hard to avoid the issue of inflation – especially in the wake of Brexit. As the British palate and dining habits have evolved to be more welcoming of international fare, more and more businesses have complex supply chains that stand to be affected depending on the results of the UK’s exit arrangements from the EU. Sourcing ingredients internationally, as well as rising prices at home, have had an impact on the bottom line, but businesses are reluctant to pass those cost increases on to their customers. So what’s the solution? For technology-minded CEOs and their Finance Directors, the answer lies first in their data and reporting. Detailed, accurate and current updates on operational and financial performance – as well as working capital – provide a strong basis for identifying where cost and operating efficiencies could lie.

This could be a more accurate picture, hour by hour, site by site, around waste, production and sales numbers – helping inform ordering and procurement. Equally, it could lend more insight into staffing efficiency. Mapping your staffing levels against demand can help maximise efficiency during peak hours, but will also be an invaluable tool should Brexit impact your ability to easily hire talented people.

The final way in which increased insight is supporting the future growth plans for these businesses is in raising finance. There is a great appetite (excuse the pun) for investing in new food businesses – whether it’s capitalising on the rise of non-alcoholic and more health-orientated options, through to the rise of the street food vendor as a proof of concept for new chefs. But investors will also want to understand the cold hard facts behind the pitch. And that requires a sound grasp of your numbers and business model.

The good news is the move to digital – from paying by card to the use of cloud-enabled technology to sync your front line and back office functions– is providing a fuller picture than ever for businesses. The data is there and ready to be used, businesses just need to make sure it’s set up to deliver the insight they need.

This blog is part of a series from My Financepartner. My Financepartner is a new accounting service for small and medium-sized businesses that puts you in control. You choose the services that you need, module by module, and we'll deliver them. Contact us at my.financepartner@uk.pwc.com