Food businesses have every opportunity to be highly successful ventures. After all, we wouldn’t see so many of them if they weren’t good ideas!
A food company comes in many forms – from restaurants to cafes to food trucks or even food production. You can go down many routes with an idea in the food industry, but things won’t always go according to plan. One moment everything can be great, and then the next, your business is forced to close.
It can happen in the blink of an eye, but what causes a food business to instantly shut down? Avoiding the obvious reasons – like poor financial management – here are a few things that’ll stop your food business in its tracks:
Problems With Suppliers
You should know that suppliers are important to your business, especially when you’re in the food industry. For example, a restaurant relies on suppliers for ingredients or equipment. Without them, they’re completely done for.
If your food business has problems with suppliers, it can close immediately. You probably won’t close permanently, but you’ll have no supplies to conduct business for the time being – which leads to massive financial losses.
Issues with suppliers can include any of the following:
- The supplier goes bust
- The supplier runs into some bad press and you don’t want to be associated with them
- The supplier faces logistical issues
- The supplier no longer supplies what you need
Always be careful when picking suppliers to reduce the chances of these things happening. Also, have a backup plan in case you need to switch suppliers with very little notice. It can minimize downtime so you’re still making money.
A workplace injury will likely shut down most businesses, but it’s a bigger issue for a food company. Think about it, all food businesses will involve fairly dangerous equipment. Food manufacturing firms have massive machines, restaurants use hot ovens and sharp knives, and even a cafe carries risks with hot steam from a coffee maker.
When an injury occurs, the entire business comes to a standstill. To make matters worse, the nature of the food industry means injuries can be severe. Someone could get their arm stuck in a big machine or cut themselves deeply with a knife. In any case, your food business will immediately shut down to deal with the injury.
Why? Because when food is around, there’s a risk of decontamination. You can’t keep serving food in your restaurant if someone cuts themselves and there’s blood on the kitchen surfaces. To mitigate this, you need strict safety practices that educate employees on using all the food equipment or tools. You also need warning signs to prevent things like slipping on wet surfaces, etc. If you can reduce workplace injuries, your business can stay open longer.
Poor Food Hygiene
Since your business deals with food, you will be subjected to regular hygiene checks. This usually comes from county or state health departments, and they arrive unannounced to check how things are. From a big manufacturing company down to a small independent cafe, your food hygiene must be top-notch or you’ll be forced to close.
If multiple hygiene violations are spotted, you’ll have to shut down your business until the necessary changes are made. Cleanliness and cross-contamination are two of the most common food hygiene violations. Be sure you are cleaning equipment and surfaces thoroughly to remove all germs. Use industrial chemicals for the best results and put safeguards in place to avoid cross-contamination.
For instance, have a chopping board or work surface specifically for raw meat and then another for vegetables and other produce. Always ensure people handle raw meat wearing gloves and then remove the gloves before handling something else with a fresh pair of gloves. Getting a poor food hygiene rating can be devastating for a food business as people will learn about it. This puts them off your company and means you can lose so many customers and clients.
You can throw pests into the poor food hygiene category as their presence will certainly give you a low score. Nevertheless, we’ve selected it on its own because there are times when pests cause problems without technically affecting your official food hygiene rating.
Imagine you own a restaurant, and rats are seen running out of the kitchen. The entire place will be thrown into disarray, and customers will leave faster than the rats themselves. Your reputation is permanently tarnished, and you’ll be forever known as “that restaurant with the rats”. We’ve unfairly singled out rats here – any animal in a food business is a pest. If customers see pests anywhere near your establishment, they’ll start walking away.
Your business needs to shut down as you deal with the pest problem. Depending on the issue, this could take days or weeks to solve. In the worst-case scenario, you’re closed forever. Nobody comes back after the pest issue as your reputation is in the gutter. You can’t keep up with bills due to a lack of customers and your dream ends up falling to pieces. Always place good pest control measures to prevent this, regardless of what food business you’re running.
Food Allergy Issues
When you make or sell food to people, the onus is on you to disclose all ingredients and potential allergies. Even if the product doesn’t include an ingredient, you need to say it was made near any ingredients that trigger allergies. You may notice that many chocolate bars or products that don’t list nuts in the ingredients will put a disclaimer stating “made in a factory that uses nuts” or something similar.
Food allergy issues will close your business – and possibly for good. The key problem is when someone eats your food product and suffers an allergic reaction. Obviously, if someone is allergic to nuts and they order the nut roast from your menu, then you won’t be in any hot water. This is their fault as long as you clearly stated that nuts were in the food. But if a customer eats something and you forget to disclose all ingredients, then you are in big trouble.
In this scenario, the “best” you can hope for is that the customer survives and they’re willing to look the other way. Most of the time, you’re looking at a food allergy lawsuit. This takes up a lot of time and you might be forced to close your business until the legal process is over. More often than not, you’ll be found guilty, and a big compensation check will come out of your account. This huge financial loss can leave you without enough money to keep the business afloat.
And let’s not even think about the worst that happens from food allergy issues. People have died unknowingly eating products or meals in the past. Were this to happen in your food business, it could be enough to close your doors for good.
Rewind to the very first sentence of this article and you’ll note that food businesses have every opportunity to be successful. Having said that, many fail every day. This is partially down to how competitive the industry is, and partly due to the range of things that cause complications. Your best chance of success is to reduce the possibility of these five things shutting down your food business. It largely involves putting safeguards in place and being very diligent with everything from cleanliness to ingredient listing and employee training. You’re already in a very tough industry – stop giving yourself more opportunities to fail.