Kickstart 2024: Navigating the Hospitality Landscape

As we bid farewell to 2023, it’s crucial for every small restaurant and café owner to gear up for the challenges and opportunities that 2024 holds. Here’s a comprehensive guide to ensure you not only survive but thrive in the ever-evolving hospitality industry.

1. Minimum Wage Hike (Jan 1, 2024): Brace yourselves for a 12% increase in the national minimum wage, rising from €11.30 to €12.70. This impacts all staff levels, necessitating a menu pricing adjustment to absorb the additional costs. Have you reviewed yours and updated your till/s?

2. Sick Pay Overhaul (Jan 1, 2024): Starting the year, new sick pay entitlements grant all staff, part-time and full-time alike, 5 days at 70% of their salary. Plan for menu pricing adjustments and develop strategies for resourcing cover during sick leave. Again, have you reviewed yours and updated your till/s?

3. Upcoming PRSI Increase and Pension Scheme (Oct 2024, Sep 2024): Budget for a PRSI increase of 0.1% in October 2024. Prepare for a significant change from September onwards, as employees earning above €20,000 will be automatically enrolled in a pension scheme. You’ll need to match every €3 an employee contributes, and the state will provide an additional €1. During the first year, contributions will be set at 1.5% of gross pay, increasing by 1.5% every three years (up to 6%). You’ll need to match these contributions, up to an €80,000 earnings threshold. Seek advice from your accountant for cash flow projections and menu pricing strategies.

4. Fluctuating Food Costs (Throughout 2024): The rollercoaster of food costs continues into 2024. After a daunting 6.7% surge in November 2023, the expectation is a slightly more manageable 5.7% for the Oct-Dec 2023 quarter. While a forecasted drop to 2.5% in 2024 sounds promising, the echoes of 2023’s challenges linger. Accurate menu pricing is your shield – without it, the anticipated softening in 2024 may remain elusive. Stay vigilant, ensuring your pricing aligns with the reality of your food costs. You need to be always ensuring that price rises from suppliers are taken into account on all recipe costs.

So, just to show you in numbers what this will look like, as we always think it’s clearest when you see it here is what lies ahead as the basic salary within our industry:

5. VAT Awareness (Ongoing): It’s imperative that you have covered your VAT costs correctly in your menu. We have an article showing how easy it is to get this wrong and with Epos tills so easily managed a quick audit to ensure you are charging the correct VAT is so vital for your business. Remember, VAT in hospitality went back from 9% to 13.5% in September - it’s vital for your business that all your prices have allowed for this additional 4.5% tax that you are collecting on behalf of the revenue.

6. Invest in Your Team (Always): Your team is the heartbeat of your business. Don’t just view them as employees; consider them partners in your success story. Invest in ongoing training programs to enhance their skills and boost confidence. Recognize and reward their efforts – whether it’s through ‘Employee of the Month’ accolades or team-building activities. Fostering a positive and supportive work environment not only improves morale but also directly impacts customer satisfaction. Remember, a motivated team is your most significant asset, representing your brand with every interaction.

7. Reflect on 2023 (Year-round): The rear-view mirror is as crucial as the windshield. Take a deep dive into the past year – celebrate victories, acknowledge challenges, and most importantly, learn from both. Honest self-reflection is the compass that guides your decisions. What worked well? What could be done differently? Use these insights to refine strategies, tweak operations, and adapt to an ever-evolving market. The best lessons often emerge from analysing both triumphs and setbacks, propelling your business forward with newfound wisdom.

8. Network and Market Strategically (Year-round): Hospitality is not just about serving meals; it’s about crafting experiences. To stand out in a crowded marketplace, you need to be more than a mere eatery – you need to be a destination. Develop a comprehensive marketing plan that goes beyond traditional advertising. Collaborate with local influencers, engage with your community through sponsorships, and leverage social media to showcase the personality of your establishment. Networking with industry peers can provide valuable insights and support. By strategically building your brand and reputation, you’ll create a magnetic pull that keeps customers coming back for more.

9. Take Time for Yourself (Throughout 2024): Running a small business is demanding, and as the captain of your ship, it’s easy to forget to take breaks. However, your health and well-being are integral to the success of your venture. Make it a priority to schedule regular breaks and, if possible, a well-deserved holiday. Recharging your batteries isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Recent studies reveal that neglecting time off can lead to burnout, impacting decision-making and overall business success. Remember, a rested mind is a resilient mind – an asset for any small business owner.

10. Seek Support (Year-round): If the challenges seem overwhelming, don’t hesitate to talk it out. Seek advice from friends, family, or bring in a consultant. The hospitality community is in this together – share experiences, insights, and support each other.

In conclusion, the landscape of hospitality is ever-changing, but with proactive planning and strategic thinking, your small restaurant or café can not only weather the storms but emerge stronger. Remember, Prepsheets is here to support you in managing food margins, allergen information, food labelling, and minimizing food waste. Let’s make 2024 a year of growth and success together. Talk to us; we’re here to help and we have 50+ years hospitality experience between us to share with you. Cheers to a thriving 2024!