Stock and seasonality: How to adapt and update your menu

The recent buzz about supply chain issues and product shortages affecting British businesses has been unavoidable. Although we’re hit with lengthy reports about the whats and the whys, the question for small business owners is, how – how to adjust to these shortages and changes?

From staff and lorry driver shortages, factory closures, and possible further border goods checks being introduced in 2022 – what does this mean for independent hospitality businesses? We’ve put together this guide on all you need to know about acclimatising to product shortages in Britain, and how you can adapt your menu and processes to make the most of the product you can get hold of.

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Changing with the seasons

Although it’s good to rely on faithful foods and recipes that have proven popular for your business in the past, now, more than ever, it is important that you adapt to the changing landscape. This landscape, of course, comes in the form of a new Brexit and post-COVID Britain, but also in the form of more familiar changes.

Switching to seasonal menu offerings comes with many benefits. And though it might seem like a little extra work, it also shows that you are a franchise that enjoys providing its customers with something new and fresh – literally. Creating seasonal menus can also combat potential product shortages, as well as helping to do your bit for the environment, among other positives.

Sustainable choice

By changing your menu to rely on mostly seasonal and local products, you will be less reliant on external and international shipments for produce.

Tastier, more reliable, and thoughtful food choices will help to build your brand as one that is considerate of its local community - and the planet. When you begin to support other local business owners, whether that be farmers or breweries (among others), it establishes your business as a friendly pillar in the community. From there, it can help create a reliable and sustainable supply chain that puts the best fresh produce in front of your customers.

Tempts diners

All this talk of fresh, seasonal produce and innovative changing menus is bound to stir up excitement within your customers – both existing and potential. New menu items, interesting dishes, and the promise of local food on their plates will undoubtedly tempt diners in through your doors.

This new image of seasonal change and innovative dishes are solid USPs (unique selling points) which could soon become pillars of your brand identity. People love to know where their food is coming from and what exactly is on their plate, so this acts as vivid encouragement when contemplating choosing your restaurant, cafe, or bar. Customers should know what they’re getting, in terms of fresh, local produce, but should also be walking into the unexpected when it comes to exciting and innovative menu items.

Promotes creativity

Speaking of innovation, creating a new menu, or even just a few items, gives you the opportunity to really stretch your creativity. Not only will unique dishes bring diners through your doors, but it also illustrates consistent learning and revolution. This is important when looking to compete with local eateries and offer a taste of something different – whether it be something completely new, or a twist on a classic dish.

Become a seasonal destination

If you’re looking to put a spin on the classics, a seasonal menu provides you with amazing opportunities for special events. With the changing of the seasons comes fresh spring vegetables at Easter, bright summer dishes, cosy and earthy autumnal produce, and rich winter and Christmas recipes.

You want to be the place people think of when booking for certain events, so you want your Christmas dinner, for example, to stand out among the rest. Push fresh and local produce, sustainability, and exciting twists on turkey and stuffing. Although we all love the Christmas roast, everyone wants to experience something new!

How to update your menu for in-person dining

Adapting your menu doesn’t just come in the form of the food you’re putting in front of people. As technology evolves to cater for all types of customers and businesses alike, it’s important that you don’t let any of this opportunity to evolve pass you by.

An easy way to implement new technology into your business is by using a QR or online menu. These are quickly replacing traditional paper menus as they can be easily updated whenever the need arises. Especially useful if you’re adopting a seasonal menu, they’re also easily accessible, meaning customers can browse and order their food all in the same place.

You can explore self-service options with Square to see how you can implement this customer-friendly tech to help update your service processes and menus. Online ordering also helps to free up wait staff, improve order accuracy, and also helps reduce contact for COVID-concerned diners.

How to update your takeaway menu

Another vital part of your business that must not be forgotten when updating your processes, is your takeaway menu. You need to ensure that this sector of your business is in sync with your in-person dining stock and menu, which means the best course of action would be to keep track of everything on one system.

If you’re thinking of making the move online, then a system like a restaurant EPOS (point-of-sale) system, helps to keep everything organised and in one place. From there, you can keep track of orders, inventory, your online store, and even staff to keep your business running like a well-oiled modernised machine.

By keeping track of stock, you’ll be able to mark items as sold so online customers aren’t disappointed when they get to checkout. This handy feature is implemented automatically with Square, giving you one less thing to worry about.

This also enables you to quickly update your online offerings, meaning you can offer a smaller or slightly different menu to your in-house restaurant, saving you time and hassle when completing orders quickly and, most importantly, accurately.

Brexit, COVID, and the resulting produce shortages have not made things easy for small businesses. However, with this challenge comes the perfect opportunity to illustrate that you can adapt and innovate. Embrace making these seasonal and technological changes to help grow your business into a sustainable local pillar within your community.