METRO start-up study confirms: Restaurateurs have a taste for happiness

14 October 2014

  • First start-up study for hotel, restaurant and catering sector
  • More than three quarters of hoteliers and food service providers are satisfied or very satisfied with owning their own business
  • Nearly two thirds would still opt for self-employment if they had to make the choice all over again
  • Four fifths consider the lack of qualified staff the biggest problem of this industry
  • More than two million people in Germany dream of opening their own café, restaurant or hotel
  • www.metro-startupstudy.com: More results of the study and video interviews with entrepreneurs
Stress, worries, a lack of customers: this is what the daily life of many hoteliers and food service providers looks like according to relevant TV shows. The METRO start-up study, which for the first time in Germany analyses the start-up mentality of independent businesses in the hospitality sector, shows a different picture: the vast majority of these are satisfied or even very satisfied and would still opt for self-employment if they had to make the choice all over again. This is good news for the more than two million people in Germany who dream of starting up their own café, restaurant or hotel. A representative survey conducted by METRO Cash & Carry in cooperation with the German market research company Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK) showed that the biggest downside for these independent businesses is the lack of qualified staff.

The wholesale company METRO Cash & Carry, whose core customers in particular include hotel, restaurant and catering operators, initiated this survey on the occasion of its 50th anniversary and thereby presented the first representative analysis of the start-up mentalities in this sector in Germany. The survey focused on the motivations, aspirations and wishes of the entrepreneurs with a view to operating an independent business in this sector. What drives these people? Which challenges do they face? What is the recipe of success when it comes to being self-employed? These questions are relevant for a very large industry sector: besides the crafts and trading sector, the hospitality sector is one of the three most popular sectors for start-ups in Germany. In 2013, around 1.7 million people worked in the hospitality sector and generated a net sales value of nearly € 70 billion.

"Two aspects are particularly remarkable: on the one hand a very high level of satisfaction among the self-employed people surveyed despite all the burdens involved in this business. The hotel and food service industry appears to be a real source of happiness", said Olaf Koch, CEO of METRO Cash & Carry and Chairman of the Management Board of METRO AG. "On the other hand, there is an increasing lack of qualified staff, which is a cause for concern". 

77 per cent of those surveyed stated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their profession and around 65 per cent would again choose to run an independent business. Almost 90 per cent of them confirmed that they were very passionate about their business. Among the main motivations for starting their own business was the desire for independence and self-fulfilment, the realisation of their own ideas as well as doing something for the greater good. At the same time, an important aspect for 94 per cent of the entrepreneurs was being able to take responsibility for their actions. 

For 79 per cent of the entrepreneurs surveyed, the lack of qualified staff is the primary concern when running their own business, ahead of bureaucracy and the burden of taxation. 51 per cent of those surveyed agreed with the assertion "I ultimately have to see to everything myself". But even the challenges of daily working life can not reduce the high level of satisfaction of these independent entrepreneurs. Having the choice, the vast majority would do everything exactly the same way again.

The goal of starting up something on their own, being the boss in their own business and having and taking on a leadership role also motivate prospective entrepreneurs. Especially for start-ups, this independence is the deciding factor: 87 per cent highlighted that this desire for independence was the key criterion for venturing into self-employment. Family tradition also plays an important role. Especially in the hotel industry, family members taking over and continue operating the business is extremely common. 

This is also the context in which the aspect of strengthening the local economy must be seen: for 70 per cent of those surveyed it is important to create new jobs, and consequently give something back to the local community. Almost three quarters of the entrepreneurs (71 per cent) want to take responsibility for themselves and others. In this regard, the large majority of the independent entrepreneurs seem to trust their own ideas and abilities: 88 per cent of those surveyed believe in their professional success. With this conviction, to make the customer happy is their own priority (65 per cent). 90 per cent of the people surveyed appreciate a direct feedback from their guests and see their business as a place where people can come together (60 per cent).

In the framework of this survey a total of 402 entrepreneurs were anonymously interviewed by phone during the period from March to April 2014, of which 68 per cent were men and 32 per cent women. The target group primarily comprised the founders of SMEs with two to 20 employees and with annual sales of 100,000 euros to 200,000 euros or upwards of 500,000 euros. 

Further information on the METRO start-up study can be found at the website www.metro-startupstudy.com by browsing through the complete study brochure or by downloading it as a pdf. Video interviews with entrepreneurs who report on their experiences have been specially produced for this website. Visitors can also order printed copies of the brochure.

METRO GROUP is one of the largest and most important international retailing companies. During the financial year 2012/13 (pro forma), it generated sales of about €66 billion. The company operates around 2,200 stores in 31 countries and has a headcount of around 250,000 employees. The performance of METRO GROUP is based on the strength of its sales brands that operate independently in their respective market segments: METRO/MAKRO Cash & Carry - the international leader in self-service wholesale - Media Markt and Saturn - the European market leader in consumer electronics retailing - Real hypermarkets and Galeria Kaufhof department stores.