iChef - Making a difference PREP WORK



Making a difference


By Matthew Krueger

Copyright 2016 iChef

Published by iChef at Shakespir

Shakespir Edition License Notes

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Contents: 2

Inspired to iChef 3

Prep work 3

Getting started – business plans and finance 3

Buy a franchise or start new? 4

Buy with your head not your emotions – considerations for the location (onsite and surroundings) of your business 5

Staff 7

Creating a connection between your business and your customers 8

Your role in your business 9

Kitchen costs 10

Building your business’s success with iChef 11

Connect with iChef 12


Inspired to iChef

The dark days…my first attempt at owning and operating a restaurant! That’s the only way to describe the time in my life when I realised there was no one to help me! This is my journey of surviving the hospitality industry and my determination to help you succeed in it.

I still remember finishing school and wondering what am I going to do? At the time I was involved in the navy cadets and as a part of this I spent time in the mess hall cooking and mastering the art of making corned beef. I really enjoyed my time in the cadets but the transition into the real world would be an eye opener. I started the journey at the Cuckoo Restaurant in the Dandenongs where I was introduced to the long and grueling hours of this industry.

I secured an apprenticeship, after many weeks of pestering and almost camping out side, at the five star Windsor Hotel in Melbourne. I still recall my first task – being left in a dark corner of the kitchen with five boxes of pumpkins! The hard skinned variety! In hand, the bluntest knife you could imagine. My apprenticeship was hard, but it was here that I had the opportunity to learn my trade under the guidance of some truly talented chefs, including Manfred Lippold.

We worked in a high pressure, high quality and fast moving environment where failure wasn’t an option and attention to detail had to be exceptional. On weekend mornings, the apprentices ran the kitchen. This meant that after long nights of service on Fridays and Saturday we would have to front up the next morning and do the breakfast shift for 200 guests plus room service. You counted yourself lucky if you were the one hiding in the pastry section making mountains of strawberry or chocolate mousse!

Over the years I have worked as Head Chef and then in my own place where I feel I learnt the hardest lesson…failure. My first own restaurant failed which is the reason why I am so passionate about helping others stay in business.

I have watched the industry closely to see how it really works and have come up with simple tools and solutions to be put in place BEFORE it all goes pear shaped! I believe you only truly understand our industry when you have lived and breathed it from the ground up. Fallen flat on your face, dusted yourself off and gotten on with it.

My ‘dark days’ inspired iChef so you don’t have to feel you are going it alone. iChef is built on expert industry knowledge and learning’s to ensure your business is a success.


Prep work

Starting up your new business is terrifying and exhilarating. To help you navigate through the start of this journey I have put together a few checklists to help get you moving away from the panic and towards practical ideas and solutions.

These checklists should be consider in your planning stage. Every business is different and if you would like customised assistance I would value the opportunity to be part of your journey through our iChef services.

Getting started – business plans and finance

You wouldn’t bake a chocolate cake without a recipe? The same goes with starting a restaurant. Unfortunately the hospitality industry has a large failure rate so it is imperative to plan and look at all the aspects of the business before you set up. I was told by a business planning company “Failure to plan is planning for failure”.

In a saturated market, with a high percentage turn over, it is important that you have the right systems and procedures in place to give you a clear and honest view of your business even before you open the doors to the public.

The setup investment you will outlay when starting a new place is significant. Before your commit to anything you need to understand what are the costs, what can different suppliers offer you, how do you measure the true amount of wastage, and do you have a marketing plan, a business plan, and a long term plan? Population growth can only support so many businesses and it is the ones who are organized and have clear goals in mind that will defy the stigma of our industry. Your focus should be on making sure you have the internal arteries of your business running like clockwork and making consistent profits.

There is a lot of information readily available to assist you putting together a business plan. However make sure the plan is designed for the hospitality industry as it is quite unique. Even though you may have been in this industry for years, it is important to look at it with fresh ‘business eyes’.

The business plan will highlight many aspects you otherwise would not have discovered until it is too late. With a plan you are not guaranteeing success but it is a blueprint or a road map of what you want to do and where you want to go. It is also a vital tool in the search for identifying funding opportunities and will assist potential investors in making that important decision on whether to invest or not.

There are many ways to finance the venture and you should talk to an accountant or financial advisor to make the best decision for you. The methods for financing you business are generally in the form a business loan from a bank or private investors. New equipment is generally purchased through lease agreements this helps free up money to be used elsewhere. Be prepared for financials to be presented, business plan at the ready and a credit check to be run on your financial history. Having a well thought through and comprehensive financial system for your kitchen goes hand in hand with your business plan.


p<>{color:#000;}. Try not to go in to business with family and friends. Family and friends don’t mix in business; I have seen families and friendships break up over failed businesses.

p<>{color:#000;}. Your super is for your retirement. Don’t use this as a start-up.

p<>{color:#000;}. Don’t ask anyone to put up their homes to guarantee your loan. People have lost everything because they have made these commitments.

p<>{color:#000;}. Remember private investors are like banks and generally follow the same rules as banks.


Buy a franchise or start new?

The emotional rollercoaster of starting your own business can seem more achievable if someone has already ‘been there and done that’. If you are new to the industry a franchise may seem like the safest option. Franchises include training, procedures, support and direction. Just follow the rules and you have a winning combination… is it really that easy?

A franchise can feel like a safe way to enter a saturated and super competitive market but it also comes with risks. You will lose your independence and your ability to make your own decisions regarding what is right for you and your business. You will not be able to make alterations to set promotions, food prices, recipes, menu items or the suppliers you can and can’t use.

When deciding whether to invest in a franchise, make sure you know all the facts and ask as many questions as possible.

No matter if you choose the guiding light of a franchise or heading off into the unknown alone, find the right fit for you. There are pros and cons for both – do your homework and have a look at the checklists included in this book to assist with the decisions.


p<>{color:#000;}. What are ALL the costs and ongoing costs for being a part of a franchise?

p<>{color:#000;}. Are you locked in to suppliers or can you source locally?

p<>{color:#000;}. What does the business model look like?

p<>{color:#000;}. What is the return on investment?

Buy with your head not your emotions – considerations for the location (onsite and surroundings) of your business

Heard of the saying ‘never go shopping on an empty stomach?’ Well the same can be said for purchasing a business. No matter who you are or how long you have been in business anyone can fall victim to the emotional gremlin and buy a business with their heart instead of their head. It never ends well.


A very successful restaurateur I know recently succumbed! After operating a busy and successful restaurant in a city area for a number of years, his lease was up for negotiation and to no surprise the landlord was looking to increase the amount. So fueled by his emotions and without the proper market research, he refused to sign the updated lease and instead signed a new lease on a building in a new location.

If he had looked at the situation calmly and logically he would found that perhaps his existing landlord was willing to reconsider the rise. He would of also identified that the new location was simply too far for his regulars to follow him. Unfortunately despite being a wonderful restaurant, he was forced into bankruptcy due to no clients being able to easily access the new location.

Use your head and not your emotions when it comes to your business. It is incredibly easy to fall in love with a location and persuade yourself that it will all work out. Sit down with someone who is not scared to challenge you to go through your decisions and justifications. These decisions could be the key to your success or failure!


The surroundings:

p<>{color:#000;}. Population base, how many people are in the area and what is the demographic makeup? For example, think of the ethnic makeup of the area. Would opening an Italian restaurant work in a predominantly Indian area?

p<>{color:#000;}. Is there sufficient car parking available? People hate to look for parking.

p<>{color:#000;}. Accessibility, will it be easy to get to?

p<>{color:#000;}. Who is your competition in the area and how close are they?

p<>{color:#000;}. What are the local council regulations and zoning?

p<>{color:#000;}. What is happening in the area? Are there future developments (residential/retail/industrial)?

p<>{color:#000;}. Is the area safe and family friendly?

The site

p<>{color:#000;}. Is the size of the premise appropriate for your business goals?

p<>{color:#000;}. What is the rent and can you afford the rent for that location? Note: Generally the accepted industry standard for rent is a maximum of 10% of your turnover per month.

p<>{color:#000;}. How much renovation is required? Ask yourself – is it better to take over an existing premises or recently closed down place that may have equipment and set up? You might just get a deal from the landlord trying to recoup costs?

The rent

p<>{color:#000;}. How could the rental terms change over time?

p<>{color:#000;}. What is the relationship like with the landlord?

p<>{color:#000;}. How have rent increases been determined historically? Or if it is a new arrangement ask the landlord what factors they will consider when looking at increases to the rent.

  • Note: If your landlord sees you are busy all the time then they may assume that an increase in rent is warranted and you can afford it! If you keep them in the loop then you may just form a mutually beneficial relationship where the rent may not increase a lot but you become a long-term tenant!

Additional considerations if the site wasn’t previously a food premise

p<>{color:#000;}. What are local councils requirements for opening a food business? Note: To get through this stage, work with council and not against them.

p<>{color:#000;}. What needs to happen to become compliant with these rules and regulations? Grease traps, toilets, parking and so on.

p<>{color:#000;}. Will the landlord be able to complete the modifications? Also see if the landlord will contribute some money in for the work to be done.


Business requirements

p<>{color:#000;}. ABN

p<>{color:#000;}. Business name – including securing your social media names

p<>{color:#000;}. Workers compensation

p<>{color:#000;}. Staff superannuation

p<>{color:#000;}. Building insurance if you own

p<>{color:#000;}. Contents insurance if you don’t own the building

p<>{color:#000;}. Public Indemnity Insurance

p<>{color:#000;}. Banking, including EFTPOS

Business licenses

p<>{color:#000;}. Liquor license

p<>{color:#000;}. Trading hours

p<>{color:#000;}. Food premise license

p<>{color:#000;}. Signage permits

p<>{color:#000;}. Preparation of food, food safety plan

p<>{color:#000;}. APRA license

Individual staff licenses

p<>{color:#000;}. Responsible service of alcohol certificate

p<>{color:#000;}. Food handling safety certificate

p<>{color:#000;}. Food safety supervisor certificate


Staff are your greatest asset and the face of your business – pay them what they deserve.

You will often read about hospitality businesses underpaying staff. Don’t be that person. Your staff will go above and beyond if you give them the opportunity. If you are having troubles connecting with your staff or perhaps hiring the right staff this is a separate issue. No matter what you think your staff deserve to be paid, you have a legal obligation to pay them correctly.

Start by looking at the Federal Laws, then look at your specific State Laws. Ignorance is no longer an excuse with information so easily accessible to you and your staff.

Cover yourself, cover your workers and most importantly simply do the right thing!

Empowering your staff is another way to ensure commitment. One of the ways of doing this is inclusive staff meetings. I believe holding a weekly meeting is paramount to any business.  I have always held them.  It is here that any concerns or difficulties can be discussed and solutions found. It is an opportunity for owners and management to discuss openly any issues faced by the business. You would be surprised at how many problems can be solved with a round table discussion and allowing everyone to have their say.  It is also important that the staff understand the issues faced.

Weekly meetings are a great way of setting goals and getting everyone’s involvement in the running of the business. From recognising money wasting concerns thought to menu design, it offers an opportunity to praise outstanding performances and group achievements.

It is also the perfect forum to put a stop on any gossip. The most damaging way of getting information is though GOSSIP, with everyone guessing what is going on. Honesty is the best way of getting everyone involved!  By giving everyone ownership in the establishment you will soon see everyone pulling together and getting results.

Treat your staff with equality and respect and you will be rewarded with loyalty and hard work.


p<>{color:#000;}. Which Award are you covered under?

p<>{color:#000;}. Do you have insurance for your works?

p<>{color:#000;}. Do you have the right facilities? Toilets?

p<>{color:#000;}. Are you expected to provide a staff room?

p<>{color:#000;}. What are the minimum and maximum lengths of shifts, meal breaks and break time between shifts?

p<>{color:#000;}. Will you employ staff full time, part time or casual?

p<>{color:#000;}. Uniforms – if you aren’t providing one do you need to give an allowance?

p<>{color:#000;}. How are you paying people – Weekly? Fortnightly? In my opinion, weekly is the best and fairest. We all do a week’s work and like to see the rewards weekly. Fortnightly may help cash flow wise as a business but stretching out wages may cause stress on staff especially if they are not great money managers.

p<>{color:#000;}. Superannuation – when and how to pay?

p<>{color:#000;}. What incentives (such as paying above the Award wage) or bonuses will you offer to attract and retain great staff?

Where to go for more information:

Check out Fair Work Australia (https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/minimum-wages)

Check out WorkCover Australia (https://www.workcover.nsw.gov.au/)


Creating a connection between your business and your customers

Are you here for a good time or a long time? I love these old clichés and normally when this one is touted I would be the first to put up my hand and say a good time! However, in the hospitality business you need to be in it for the long time.

The key to success in an already saturated market place is planning and understanding your customers. One way to understand your customers is through profiling. A market profile is a set of attributes relating to a target population, and in business, a target group of buyers.

The data from profiling will enable you to work out what type of menu will sell, the price range for your menu and the atmosphere you need to create.

Once a clear picture is created of the area you wish to do business in and who the local customer is, a plan can be put in place of the type of establishment which will fit in the area.

The other important part of building a connection with your customer is defining your unique selling point (USP). Your unique selling point is about what do you do differently to your competition to attract new customers. Your unique selling point could be the theme, the menu, the décor, a trend, new technology or something fun.

Your unique selling point is important and you should spend the time researching what your customers want. You really need to keep thinking ahead, researching, watching trends and evolving to stay current and profitable.

It will set the way forward for how you market your business and drive the content for your social media. It is how you connect to your customer.

What about the connection between how you treat your customers and if they will return? The food may be great but if you are made to feel like a number, or rushed would you come back? Customer service is a key element to the make or break of a business. Good news is great, bad news travels faster!


The Hello Kitty Diner in Sydney is a great example of a business that has a clear understanding of their unique selling point. They are catering to families with children by serving a simple menu and leveraging of the Hello Kitty following. What a great way to stand out and be noticed in a saturated market.


p<>{color:#000;}. Who is your target market? These characteristics typically include demographic factors such as income, region, values, age, countries of origin and life styles.

p<>{color:#000;}. Who are your competitors?

p<>{color:#000;}. What do you do differently to your competitors?

p<>{color:#000;}. What are your customers looking for?

p<>{color:#000;}. Why would someone keep coming back to your restaurant when there are another five to choose from on the same street?

p<>{color:#000;}. What are your thoughts on customers service, what kind of experience do you want your customers to have?


Your role in your business

As a small business owner we try to do everything! I was the chef, the accountant, the HR manager, the cleaner, the marketing guru, the program designer…the list was endless. I think my greatest challenge as a business owner was to recognise when I needed help and when I needed to outsource!

It costs more, I hear you say! It’s hard to find the right person! It’s easier to just do it myself! You know what? It’s not and it doesn’t!

You need to constantly assess where your talent lies and where your energy is best spent. Is it tackling the accounts? Navigating social media? Or is it in the kitchen? Just as a chef is the heart and soul of a great restaurant, a manager, an accountant, an amazing front of house maître de, an enthusiastic apprentice etc are all essential elements in keeping the cogs of your business turning. Next time you are struggling with a task ask yourself where is your time better spent?

That said, as an owner you really need be part of the business. No matter how good your staff are, it doesn’t take away from the fact that you should have a clear understanding of what is really going on in your business and if it is being managed how you want it to be.


We used to frequent two restaurants in Melbourne, visiting both almost weekly. Their management style was so different that it was interesting to watch their business evolve and grow/crumble.

Restaurant number one was run by a husband and wife team who were committed to providing the best experience for their customers. They were onsite every day, either together or solo. The staff appeared equally committed and willing to do what was needed to ensure your experience was memorable. The owners were in the background and mingled with each table creating a relationship with each guest. The meals were of a high standard and it was busy every day.

Restaurant number two was owned by a first time operator who appeared to be more interested in the title of ‘Owner’ than actually immersing himself in the business and was rarely onsite. An unhappy captain did the day-to-day running of the business. The captain took his frustrations out on the staff and happily told customers about the restaurants problems. Staff were also vocal about not wanting to stay because of the captain.

So where are our restaurants now? The husband and wife team are currently enjoying a prosperous retirement while restaurant number two is finding himself answerable to a number of restless investors.


Kitchen costs

It is important to remember the kitchen should be viewed as a standalone business within the business and it requires a higher level of care. In many cases 60% of money is lost through the kitchen. Separating the kitchen from the rest of the business as two independent cost centers helps to control the expenses and highlights where you are hemorrhaging money.

It’s a great step when you first get to develop a menu that reflects what your business’s vision, but how do you keep it realistic and profitable.

Take the time and set the daily kitchen budgets and monitor if they are being followed. Having a system in place for managing the kitchen expenses will ensure you are able to review and make adjustments on a daily basis. It is important to keep on top of the little things as it can easily spiral out of control.

Having real time answers makes the decisions easier and could lead to financial gains, it will certainly ensure your eyes are wide open and you are able to make changes with immediate affect!  Allowing you to be proactive not reactive and giving your business its best opportunity to thrive. So as much as you don’t like the paperwork, it is essential in the health and well-being of your kitchen, you just need to know how to manage it.


How do you know what price to sell it at if you have no idea on how much it costs you to actually make it?  Rookie error and one I am most certainly guilty of! I should have literally stood at the door handing out $50 notes to everyone who came in. I didn’t know what each menu item was costing me so in the end I was subsidising everyone who ate at my restaurant.

Armed with the knowledge of product costs, matched against what you want to serve and what food % you want to achieve you are able to set the price. The industry average is 33% but you will quickly understand each of your menu items and it may be the case that you can adjust your percentages accordingly – for example an items costs $2 + 33% = $7.33 but you know the market will pay $9, thus giving you flexibility to have some little ‘wins’ and increased profits on lower cost items!  Be careful though not to over price!   


p<>{color:#000;}. Does the menu reflect your target audience?

p<>{color:#000;}. Set you food cost target. 33% is the industry average, but you can set lower percentages on certain dishes which have cheaper ingredients.

p<>{color:#000;}. Create recipes for 10 portions – it is easier to calculate the cost of the ingredients.

p<>{color:#000;}. Itemise the recipe. This includes the measurements (based on 10 portions), garnishes, non-food items such as tooth picks and doylies, salt & pepper, and a set price for disposables to cover items such as glad wrap and foil.

p<>{color:#000;}. Set the sale price for each dish based on the itemised recipe list and your food cost target. Note: some dishes can be sold for a higher price than you calculations show.

p<>{color:#000;}. Create recipe cards for the kitchen showing the quantities (measurements) required for each dishes portion size.

p<>{color:#000;}. Create a photo board of what the items look like plated up, this will ensure visual consistency.

p<>{color:#000;}. Set up weekly cost reviews to accommodate changing ingredients price and ensure you continue to meet your food cost target.

p<>{color:#000;}. Every month obtain an up-to-date supplier cost list that covers all of your ingredients.

p<>{color:#000;}. Download the iChef app to keep you on track and ensure your business succeeds.


Building your business’s success with iChef

Over the years I have guided many businesses in the right direction with iChef. I currently run a successful catering operation where new iChef techniques and tools are trialed and tested. I want to use my knowledge to make a difference to your business.

iChef is a hospitality resource perfect for business owners, restaurant managers and chefs. Services include individual business health checks, mentoring, coaching, workshops, an app and most recently an online kitchen management tool that will keep you ahead of the game.

So what can iChef do for you?

p<>{color:#000;}. iChef will enable you to streamline kitchen management including gaining maximum value from your stock and inventory.

p<>{color:#000;}. iChef will provide you with sound financial management systems that will make making and managing money easy!

p<>{color:#000;}. iChef’s kitchen management systems and tools are easy to use and give you more freedom to explore new opportunities for your business.

Connect with iChef

I really appreciate you reading my book! If you would like more useful tips or if you would like to contact iChef, here are our digital coordinates:

Visit our website: http://www.ichef.com.au

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iChef - Making a difference PREP WORK

  • ISBN: 9781310972287
  • Author: Matthew Krueger
  • Published: 2016-05-11 06:20:06
  • Words: 4456
iChef - Making a difference PREP WORK iChef - Making a difference PREP WORK