Savvy Cost Control for Restaurant Operators

As a restaurant operator, you are well aware of the sometimes too narrow profit margin that exists in the food service industry. With rising costs of food and transportation, it’s more important than ever to control your costs wherever possible. Fortunately, there are several savvy strategies you can employ to do just that. Here’s a sample of what other restaurants around the country are doing to help them manage their bottom line.

Control Costs by Managing Your Workforce more Effectively

Aside from the cost of your goods and merchandise, payroll and management of your employees ends up being one of the biggest operating expenses. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to cut costs in this area. For example, setting time standards for your kitchen, bar, and serving staff can go a long way toward making the valuable ‘third seating’ available and turning a profit. The ideal is for customers to be seated, fed, and exiting the establishment within a 45 minute to one hour time frame.

Being clear about your expectations with your staff regarding how much time they have to fulfill their duties ensures smooth operating and increased revenue. Cross-training your staff wherever possible is useful as well because it not only enables your employees to fill in for each other and avoid backlog, but it also builds appreciation for their co-workers’ jobs.

Last but not least, consider moving your hiring process online. Doing so reduces both hiring costs and the amount of paperwork you have to deal with. You can pre-screen employees, have them fill out and sign all paperwork electronically, and even see if they are eligible for a federal tax credit.

Monitoring Energy and Resource Use Cut Costs Drastically

One of the easiest areas to control costs lies in the implementation of energy and resource efficient equipment and practices. For instance, replacing all of your electric kitchen equipment with gas equipment alone can save you hundreds of dollars a month. Low-flow toilets and faucets will cut your lighting bill, LEDs in place of incandescents will lower the cost of electricity, and smaller portion sizes not only cut your food costs, but serve to reduce waste as well.

Utilizing a company that provides energy conservation technology can make a major difference as well. You can have a wireless system installed that monitors your lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, and power consumption and sends you text messages if it notices even the slightest degree of alteration, allowing you to catch a failing refrigerator for example, before any food spoils.

Looking for Other Innovative Ways to Control Your Restaurant Costs

Spending a little time thinking of creative ways to control the cost of doing business can have great pay-offs as well. For example, say you haven’t been able to take advantage of bulk liquor costs because you don’t have enough storage space to hold it. Run the numbers and see if perhaps renting a small additional storage space nearby would allow you to take advantage of bulk pricing and still make a profit.

Sourcing your local community for goods can help cut costs as well – you can often get a better deal from a small, local provider than you can from your corporate standbys.

The important thing to keep in mind when looking for cost-cutting options is not to trim costs in areas which affect guests, but rather to look for behind the scenes opportunities that save your pennies but don’t affect the quality of your guests’ experience in your establishment.

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