What motivates people to become self-employed in the hotel and food service industry? What expectations do they have? What challenges do they face? And is there such a thing as a recipe for success when it comes to being self-employed?

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of METRO Cash & Carry, we got together with the market research institute GfK to conduct a representative survey among self-employed hoteliers and food service providers. And we are delighted to now be able to present the results of the survey.

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Happy in hospitality

Stress, worry, a lack of customers – do the countless TV shows featuring celebrity chefs or restaurant testers paint an accurate picture of self-employment in the hotel and food service industry? This survey presents a different result: more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of entrepreneurs are satisfied or very satisfied with owning their own business – and if they had to make the choice all over again, they would still opt for self-employment.

The entrepreneurs in the hotel and food service industry who were surveyed for the study largely indicated that they are happy with their current situation. The owners of bars and cafés displayed the most positive results; 84 per cent of them are satisfied or very satisfied with their work.
77 of self-employed people in the food service industry are satisfied with their profession
Even in the category demonstrating the lowest level of satisfaction – caterers – 70 per cent of those surveyed were still satisfied. On the whole, there’s a  
high level of happiness in this industry. Despite the clichés, this business often provides satisfaction and fulfilment for entrepreneurs. The following results also show how strongly the majority of entrepreneurs value their work and their industry: when asked if they would opt for self-employment in the hotel and food service industry again,
nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of study
participants responded with “yes”. Among hoteliers and managers of bed and breakfasts and inns, 70 per cent would take the plunge into self-employment again. The lowest level of agreement with this statement
came from takeaway managers, but
even here, more than half of them (55 per cent) had a positive attitude.
Start-upper Jan Nöhre in front of one catering car.

I enjoy my work: I can reinvent myself again and again without anyone trying to tell me what to do, and the money is good too.”

Jan Nöhre, "Catalogna Cologne Catering“

Desperately seeking employees

If you ask self-employed hoteliers and food service providers what the biggest challenge is that they face, it’s usually one and the same answer that you hear: “Good staff are hard to find.” Further barriers are put in place by bureaucracy and the financial imponderables – and also by the customers’ rising expectations.
The lack of qualified staff is the biggest
problem for just under 80 per cent of the self-employed people surveyed. This noticeable shortage isn’t something that only affects businesses that are already up and running – it’s also an increasing burden for potential entrepreneurs. The lack of qualified
The lack of specialists is a big problem for 79 percent start-ups.
employees is the primary concern of young entrepreneurs, in other words those that have been in the business for two years or less – ahead of bureaucracy and the burden of taxation. Ali Güngörmüs, Michelin-starred chef and owner of the Hamburg-based restaurant “Le Canard nouveau”, corroborates this in an interview: “Finding the next generation of qualified employees and convincing them of the benefits of this sector is not easy.” It therefore comes as no surprise that 51 per cent of the entrepreneurs surveyed deflatedly
agreed with the assertion “I ultimately
have to see to everything myself”.
Ali Güngörmüs is owner and chef of "Le Canard nouveau" in Hamburg

Finding the next generation of qualified employees and convincing them of the benefits of this sector is not easy.

Ali Güngörmüs, „Le Canard Nouveau“ 

A lot of good reasons for becoming an entrepreneur

Nearly 20 per cent of Germany’s population has toyed with the idea of starting their own business. More than two
million of the country’s people dream of opening their own café, bistro, takeaway, restaurant or catering business. What motivates people to become self-employed
in the hotel and food service industry? We spoke to people who are in the best position to comment: self-employed individuals working in hotels, restaurants, cafés/bars, catering businesses and takeaways.
Ralf Schulze is the owner of Ice Guerilla in Beeskow

The visionary

Ralf Schulze is the managing director of the ice cream company "Ice Guerilla" in Beeskow, in the Oder-Spree region of Germany. The former sergeant founded his company in 2009; in 2012, his vanilla ice cream was named "Best Ice Cream in Germany". In the future, the ice cream specialists at "Ice Guerilla" plan to conquer Germany’s supermarkets.

Interview with Ralf Schulze

Stephanie and Cédric Schwitzer arer the owner of Hotel Kurgemeinde in Waldbronn

The team founders

Stephanie and Cédric Schwitzer run a hotel in the spa town of Waldbronn together with Johannes Rupp. The hotel, which opened at Easter 2014, has 20 bespoke rooms and suites, a spa and a gourmet restaurant that seats 50.

Interview with Stephanie Schwitzer and Johannes Rupp

Jan Nöhre is the owner of Catalogna Cologne Catering in Cologne

The old pro

Jan Nöhre opened "Catalogna Cologne Catering" in 2006. The chef and his team offer creative, professional gourmet catering. They primarily serve upmarket functions and events in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Interview with Jan Nöhre

Renata and Mike Masurczak are the owner of dreiRaum in Düsseldorf

The career changers

Renata and Mike Masurczak opened "dreiRaum" in Düsseldorf in 2010. The decision of the two bank workers to become self-employed with a bistro was a spontaneous one – and one they do not regret to this day.

Interview with Renate and Mike Masurczak

Ali Güngörmüs is owner and chef of "Le Canard nouveau" in Hamburg

The michelinstarred entrepreneur

Ali Güngörmüs has been the owner and head chef at "Le Canard nouveau" in Hamburg since April 2005. He earned his first Michelin star in 2006 and has also been awarded 16 points by Gault-Millau. Güngörmüs will open a new restaurant, the Pageou, in Munich in October 2014.

Interview with Ali Güngörmüs

Christof Wleckhorst is the owner of Luja in Dachau

The new business owner

For eight years, native of northern Germany Christof Wieckhorst supervised large-scale caterers for a brewing company in Bavaria. Then he took the plunge into selfemployment. In March 2014, he opened his event restaurant "Luja" in Dachau.

Interview with Christof Wiekchorst

A portrait of Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik, professor at the University of St. Gallen

The entrepreneur expert

The entrepreneurial spirit is his area of expertise: Dr Dietmar Grichnik is a professor of Entrepreneurship and director of the Institute of Technology Management at the University of St. Gallen. The focus of his research is on entrepreneurial decision-making and conduct as well as on financing for new businesses.

Interview with Prof. Dr. Dietmar Grichnik

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