Can I reduce costs without customers noticing? | Modern restaurant management


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This edition of MRM’s “Ask the Expert” features advice from Buyers Edge Platform. Please send questions to Barbara Castiglia, editor-in-chief of Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine, at [email protected]

Q: In what ways can I reduce costs without customers noticing while maintaining a high level of value?

A: Restaurants are known for their very slim profit margins and nowadays every penny counts.

Reducing costs without sacrificing the high quality standards that customers expect is vital to a restaurant’s survival in today’s environment. With the pandemic still impacting the restaurant and foodservice supply chain, operators are looking for ways to cut costs while making sure their customers don’t notice.

There are several areas where you lose money everyday without even knowing it. Here are three ways restaurateurs can cut costs without customers noticing:

1. Standardize recipes

When one chef uses exact ingredient measurements and another doesn’t, you are wasting money. It is essential that your chefs use consistent revenue metrics, as this is an easy way to keep plate costs accurate. For example, let’s say one of your menu items is a chicken salad. Your lunch chef measures a cup of diced chicken, but your dinner chef is just looking at the measurements. By not standardizing your recipes, you risk running out of ingredients faster and having to order more inventory, which can cause you to exceed your weekly or monthly food budget. To avoid over-measuring, try using portion cups to make sure the recipes are made the same regardless of which chef is working that day. Serving spoons and cups help keep consistency, and customers shouldn’t notice the change. Consistency is crucial for an accurate assessment of plate costs.

Pro tip: Measuring in grams produces a more accurate measurement than ounces. For expert-level recipe standardization, convert weight measurements from ounces to grams.

2. Pay attention to utilities

There are changes and improvements to your utilities that can save you money and increase your bottom line. For example, what’s one of the first things your chefs do when they start their day? We’re pretty sure the first step is to turn on the burners and heat those fryers. When your chef turns on the burners immediately, it heats up your restaurant and affects the start of your air conditioning. Work with your gas company and HVAC partner to determine the best times to turn everything on and heat the kitchen without increasing your electric bill.

Lighting is another utility that you can make changes to without customers noticing. Make sure you are using the correct bulbs. If you still use incandescent bulbs in your restaurant, now is the time to switch to LEDs. Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs is an effective way to reduce your energy bill and be more eco-responsible. Switching to LED bulbs can reduce your costs by 50-75% per fixture.

3. Use back-of-house technology

Technology takes the guesswork out of managing food costs and can help reduce costs in many areas of your operation. This includes labor and inventory. In most cases, the two go hand in hand. Administrative staff spend wasted hours manually counting inventory and trying to determine the cost of goods sold. Managing food costs can be overwhelming and if not done correctly and in a timely manner can cost an operator a much-needed profit. With the help of food costing software, your kitchen staff can spend more time working on their shifts and less time counting ingredients.

The technology centralizes all your key inventory metrics in one place. Simply put, the use of technology can keep your food costs in check and even reduce labor.

Cost reduction is important. Reducing costs without your customers noticing is even more crucial. Put these cost saving practices in place in your operation and watch your profits start to increase.

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About Imogene T. Bishop

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