Catherine Johnston

Catherine Johnston


Give yourself time to think, plan and create a clear strategy. Ask yourself the three key questions that underpin effective planning: What do we want to achieve? How are we going to achieve it? When do we want to grow, or achieve these results? A simple model to follow for food and beverage businesses will reflect a sound financial plan, i.e. we want to achieve strong sales, a 75% gross profit margin and 25% net profitability.


Once you’ve established your objectives, you can prioritise your highest risk areas to create an action plan. How you will achieve your objectives will depend on the systems and tools you implement, and creating a timeline and checklist will help keep you on track. The highest risk variable cost is labour, and is the hardest to manage and will often be the first priority. This focus point can be run alongside a focus on sales, for example, before moving your focus on to cost of goods and other expenses, once the highest risk areas are under control and performing well.

In addition to prioritising and timelining your objectives, be sure to diarise your milestone meetings after each 4-week period, to discuss how things are going with your management team, the impact of any changes and the effects on business performance and any adjustments to the strategy or timeline needed.


Understanding your financial data and being able to operationalise it is critical to improving performance. View the P&L in a format that clearly highlights and tracks performance across the core KPIs - sales, food and beverage cost, GP, labour cost and bottom line profitability and share your results with the team to support effective behaviours and review any underperformance.


Use an incentive scheme to motivate the team and drive strong results. Sales targets should be communicated every day and strong performance rewarded. A manager’s incentive scheme will also help improve your GP and labour costs by tying a cash or non-cash incentive to low beverage, food and labour costs achieved.


A clear financial model sets the basic expectations and targets for financial performance, and provides a framework for holding to account any substandard results. Decide what you want to achieve across sales, food, beverage and labour costs, and bottom line profitability and communicate this to your team.


Provide the tools and training to ensure the people responsible for achieving those targets are properly equipped to do so. A complete set of financial and operational tools is made up of around 45 worksheets and processes that support performance and drive results across the core KPIs of sales, food, beverage, labour and all other expenses. Invest the time to develop these tools, implement them, and train your key people to use them, and you will start to see immediate and sustainable results.


Strong sales don’t necessarily mean strong performance. Converting sales into best profitability through the use of a complete set of operational and financial tools will speed up the recovery process and ensure the business performs at its best in the long run.

About Catherine Johnstone  

Catherine Johnstone started working in the restaurant industry from the age of 16. She studied law at university but always held Hospitality positions and she was a General Manager for All Bar One whilst still studying at 19: an incredibly young age to hold that position. The more she worked in hospitality, the more she believed this was her true passion and calling. 

She went on to hold General Manager positions at Mitchells & Butlers, Soho House and Ben’s Canteen. Her roles were always to help fuel growth through driving revenue and profitability.  In Singapore, Cat was Operations Manager at Unlisted Collection’s portfolio of four restaurants by Jason Atherton and Spa Esprit Group. 

Cat has also worked alongside acclaimed chefs, such as Pierre Koffman for a project at Selfridges and as Maître D for Angela Hartnett’s private at home dining events with Create Cocktails. 

Cat has an impressive ability to inspire outstanding performance by empowering and motivating teammates and stakeholders. She brings her confident, charismatic approach to projects, teamed with a well-developed sense of urgency and positive work ethic to re-invigorate and drive companies forward. 

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