It is the casual dream of many to start a food business – be it an Instagram-worthy cafe, fancy modern cuisine restaurant or a new food concept outlet. And with so many runaway successes like Chatime and myBurgerLab to emulate, you might think that it’s a walk in the park.
But the truth is that food & beverage (F&B) entrepreneurs are some of the most tenacious, passionate and business-savvy people out there. It’s an extremely competitive industry with long hours and many, many sacrifices.
Whether it’s because you’re a food aficionado and want to take the culinary world by storm, or because you’re just curious about the ins and outs of the F&B industry, it’s always a good idea to take on a part-time job at an F&B outlet first. At the very least, you’ll gain some work experience and some very useful life skills at the same time.
Here are 10 invaluable skills that you will definitely acquire by working in the F&B industry.
#1. Multitask like a boss
Have you ever come across a waiter who can juggle between clearing tables, taking orders from new guests, and passing a set of cutlery to a “hangry” (read: hungry + angry) customer, all in the same moment? You may have even seen more but you get the idea.
Working in an F&B outlet is where you get to level up your multitasking skills. You will be surprised at how much you can do at the same time. #unleashingyourpotential
If you ever want to learn how to (or, how much you can) multitask, the easiest way is to get a job at a busy F&B outlet.
#2. Sharpen your memory and quick-thinking
Thinking fast on your feet will be a daily routine when you’re working with a culinary institution.
Whether it’s the case of a cockroach in the customer’s bowl of noodles, the steamer malfunctioning, or even a staff shortage situation, you are expected to come up with a feasible solution – and fast. Oh, and you’ll also find yourself having to make quick and accurate mental calculations, as well as recall customer orders – sometimes without a calculator or a notepad!
But it’ll all be worth it, because these tasks will give you a younger and sharper mind.
#3. It’s always better together
Have you always thought that you’re an introvert, a lone wolf? Always believed that you’re good enough to handle everything by yourself without any help?
The F&B industry will destroy that belief. You’ll soon realise that teamwork is crucial, and everything can fall apart if you fail to communicate or work closely with your co-workers.
Even if you don’t end up in F&B, being able to work in a team is one of the most sought after skills by employers everywhere!
#4. Learn to be a smooth talker
Hand-in-hand with teamwork is good communication skills because a lot of talking is going to be involved (duhh!).
Not only will you get the chance to brush up on your linguistic skills in multiple languages, you’ll also learn to cut through the unnecessary details and focus on the key points when communicating with your co-workers. After all, who has the time to be long-winded when there are scores of hungry customers impatiently waiting for their food?
#5. Adapt to all forms of crazy
Working in a restaurant, cafe or food chain will expose you to all sorts of people from one end of the spectrum to another.
You’ll be dealing with customers of varying temperaments, co-workers and superiors who you’ll both love and hate, food suppliers, and even friends and family who want to pay you a visit while you’re busy working.
With so many parties to deal with, you will learn to adapt and change your approach when handling different kinds of people.
As the Chinese say, “Like the water that shapes itself to the vessel that contains it, a wise man adapts himself to circumstances.”
#6. Get your sales mojo on
F&B businesses involve plenty of selling. Have a new product? Festive season promotion? Or maybe a new combo package? You’re expected to convince customers to opt for them.
You may say you dislike selling but the fact remains that most successful business owners and CEOs are good salespeople. They aren’t your everyday pedlar trying to get you to buy a pen or a keychain. They sell intangible products – big ideas, philosophies, etc. – to thousands at a time every single day.
Dipping your toes into F&B is a great way to pick up some sales skills that could help you to persuade, convince and influence others in future!
#7. Juggle time like a pro
Rotating shifts. Sudden OT calls. Multiple tasks to get done all at once. Working through public holidays and festive seasons.
With such a volatile working environment, not only will you need to learn how to adapt to different people and situations, you’ll also need to adapt to changing plans and schedules.
Thus, mastering how to manage your time and your personal priorities is part of the package of working in F&B.
#8. Be light on your feet
Working in a food outlet typically requires you to move quickly, as well as be good with your hands and feet. You’ll be expected to manoeuvre yourself swiftly through crowded and narrow spaces, while carrying plates of food with your bare hands, potentially even putting the skills of “Messiah” Messi to shame.
With more experiences, you may even learn to carry multiple large plates or cups at one time. Say bye to trembling hands!
#9. Become an F&B apprentice
Think you’ll just be facing customers because you’re not part of the kitchen crew? Think again.
You may be asked to receive new food supplies and store them appropriately. Learn how to keep your food fresh for a longer time and how best to prepare them. Make quick bites? Proper use of kitchenware? Probably covered too. Who knows, you may even learn how to brew yourself a nice cup of coffee (adios, Nescafe!).
Bonus? You actually get paid to learn all this stuff!
#10. Activate the OCD in you
Cleanliness and orderliness.
These two qualities can make or break most F&B businesses. And rightly so, because as customers, we do want to patronise outlets that are hygienic and tidy.
As a personnel in the F&B business, you will learn the importance of keeping your workplace or station neat and clean. Ensuring things are orderly and clean will become a second nature to you in no time.
Working in the F&B industry may seem mediocre for some, but the skills you gain can be pretty amazing! Not only that, you’ll also gain great work ethics, which will make you even more desirable to your future employers.