Archive for the ‘Restaurant Management Group’ Category

How to Appeal to the Typical American Wine Drinker

August 8, 2014

Despite the fact that the U.S. has become the single-largest market for wine (passing France last year), American wine drinkers aren’t easy to understand. In part, this is due to the fact that there really isn’t any such thing as the “typical” American wine drinker. We come from diverse backgrounds with very different motivations for drinking wine. How then, as the restaurant owner, do you know which is the best wine to offer on the menu?

One way is to consider how customers make their choices when it comes to wine. Constellation Brands, a global wine, spirits and beer producer and marketer put out an interesting survey that breaks Americans into six groups—each with a different motivator behind their choices in wine. The results are telling, in terms of how to appeal to the American wine populace.

American Wine Drinkers Driven by Price and Habit

According to the study, price is the top consideration for 21% of American wine drinkers. The belief in this group is that a person can get great wine without paying a lot of money for it. The only way they are going to try something new on your wine menu is if it’s within the same price range as their standby favorites. These folk like to buy cheap good wine and drink a lot of it. In fact, wine accounts for 38% of their total consumption of alcoholic beverages. The other group who is unlikely to try anything new are the everyday loyals (20%) who drink wine as a regular part of their day to day routines. They know what they like and tend to stick to it. Appealing to these two groups is a matter of providing good, cost-effective wine and favorites they already know about.

Appealing to American Wine Enthusiasts and Image Seekers

Some Americans drink wine as a status symbol, others are genuine enthusiasts who love everything about the ritual and experience of wine. Both can be profitable groups for the enterprising restaurateur. For the image seekers (18%), the important thing is that the wine they are drinking makes them look good. They enjoy trendy labels and sweeter wines. The enthusiast group (12%) is more into food and wine pairings as well as new adventures in the wine tasting world. They tend toward bolder, more robust reds. Both groups appreciate knowing the back-story of the wine they drink and tend toward options on the classier “in-the-know” side of the menu.

Appealing to the American Wine Drinking Newbie and Those that Are Just Plain Overwhelmed

People’s reactions to the world of wine typically goes one of two ways—they’re either overwhelmed or intrigued. Those that are overwhelmed (19%) typically like to drink wine, but are intimidated by the complex array of options presented when trying to buy it. This group is going to get scared away from ordering wine if they don’t see something on your menu that they recognize. The group that is new to, and intrigued by, the world of wine (12%), has a different reaction. They still tend toward sweeter wines but are looking for authenticity and trying to learn about the beverages they are drinking. Like the enthusiasts, this group is going to be interested in the stories of the wine makers themselves, and are the segment most likely to buy organic and biodynamic wines.

Understanding these different groups of American wine drinkers helps the restaurateur make smart decisions about what to include on the wine list. Some restaurants will put a little something for everyone on the drink menu; others will cater to a specific type of wine drinker. What you choose for your menu is entirely dependent on who you’re trying to attract to your establishment.

3 Customer Texting No-No’s Restaurants Should Avoid

August 4, 2014

There’s no doubt that marketing to mobile devices is a smart move on the part of restaurant owners. There’s also no doubt that texting, or SMS messaging, is an efficient and cost-effective way of getting started with mobile marketing—well within the reach of even the smallest restaurant business.

Text marketing can be a powerful way to reach your customers, if it’s done well. Do it wrong and you end up alienating your customers and tarnishing your business’s reputation. Here are three text marketing pitfalls you’ll want to avoid on the road to a successful mobile marketing campaign.

No-No #1: Overwhelming Your Customers with Too Many Texts

There’s no magic formula for determining the right frequency at which to text your customers, but most sources say that 3 to 4 times a month is sufficient for the average restaurant. The reason people are sometimes reluctant to opt in to a text or email subscription is because they are afraid of how their information will be used. No one wants to feel spammed or badgered. Be clear upfront about approximately how often customers can expect to hear from you and stick to it. Let them know that you respect their privacy, will not share or abuse their information and that you appreciate their willingness to let you contact them. Ask whether or not they can/want to receive media text and ensure that you don’t send big media texts to people who request plain text only. Bottom line: realize that you are trying to build trust and a rewarding relationship with the people you’re communicating with. Remember that mantra in every message you send, and don’t over-do it.

No-No #2: Sending Poorly Written and/or Inane Messages

Perhaps more important than the frequency at which you contact your customers is the value of the content itself that you send. It is critical that every message offers something that is interesting and of value to your restaurant customers in order to keep response rates high and opt-out rates low. Text campaigns can include contests (text-to-win), text or loyalty clubs, soliciting polls, coupons, discounts, offers and announcements. You might even opt to send a text on a day when you have excess product or empty seats to let your customers know that a members-only special is available. Whatever you decide to say, ensure that it is an enticing message, and valuable to your consumers. It only takes a couple irrelevant or unprofessional texts for a customer to permanently opt out of communication with you. Pay attention to your grammar and spelling too. These texts are part of your brand’s overall reputation and image!

No-No #3: Sending Messages Blindly Because You’ve Failed to Do Your Homework

Assuming you’re sending out meaningful, well-written messages to your consumers at an appropriate frequency, your text campaign is still remiss if you haven’t analyzed your results. You need to know if your customers respond better to say, a 20% discount off their entire orders, or a buy one get one free offer. You need to test to see whether your response rate is higher if you impose a shorter time frame for coupon redemption or if you send out the offer on a certain day of the week.

This type of data takes some time to accumulate and utilize to fine-tune your mobile marketing campaign, but the effort is well worth the trouble. The better you know how to solicit a response out of your restaurant patrons with your text messages, the better positioned you are to utilize this form of marketing as a powerful tool in your overall marketing campaign and customer-relation efforts.

3 Tips For Effective Restaurant Leadership

July 30, 2014

Running a successful restaurant business takes precision, planning and effective leadership. Without clear guidelines and actionable goals, getting your restaurant off the ground can be a challenge, let alone turning it into a successful business. Here are three tips for effective leadership that will help your restaurant stay on the track to success.

#1.Take Daily Action Toward Restaurant Targets

One of the most important leadership qualities is the ability to take effective action. One facet of effective action is knowing how to prioritize your actions so that your efforts are streamlined toward your goals. For example, before you do anything else in your day, you should put energy into those actions that are the most important in terms of your key result or performance areas. A daily review of current performance in comparison with goals you’ve set for growing your restaurant business will help you stay on track.

#2.Break Big Restaurant Goals into Small, Manageable Chunks

Breaking bigger goals into smaller chunks is a leadership skill that has a number of advantages as well. A large task can feel less overwhelming when taken piece by piece, and you often end up getting more done than if you tried to tackle it as a whole.

The goals you set can feel more easily within reach when you look at them from the perspective of what it takes to get there on a day to day level as well. For example, let’s say you want to increase your sales by $30,000 in the next quarter. That means you’ll have to pull in $10,000 a month. Now, if you have two shifts per day, or 56 shifts per month, that means each shift will have to pull in an extra $178. Take the math one step further—if you have, say, five people on any given shift, that means they’ll need to pull in an extra $20 an hour, or $4 per person per hour, in order to reach your restaurant’s sales goal increase. Four dollars per person per hour could be achieved as simply as having employees up-sell a drink or slice of pie, and feels much more manageable and attainable than “$30,000 by next quarter,”doesn’t it?

#3 Communicate Clear Actionable Goals to Your Restaurant Staff

One critical aspect of effective leadership is the ability to clearly communicate goals and expectations with staff. All those great ideas for how you can grow your business are useless if you can’t communicate them clearly to the people who will be bringing your dream into reality. It’s important to make task knowledge explicit and to routinely catalogue and share demonstrated best practices with your team. Make quarterly assessments of training and talent gaps and ensure that your team has the tools that they need to succeed. Share your restaurant goals with your staff and be sure that they each know what they need to do in order to help you get there.

Recognize that effective leadership has much to do with being clear—clear with the people you’re working with and clear about where you’re trying to go. Be disciplined and accountable as you move your business toward your goals. Study your reports and continuously assess how you can improve. Take the time to do at least one thing to improve your business every week. Last, let yourself get excited with the work of growing your restaurant—the momentum of inspiration does much to carry us forward!

Obtaining Useful Customer Feedback in Your Restaurant

July 25, 2014

Customer satisfaction means everything to a restaurant business. Fortunately, the easiest way to ensure that your customers are satisfied is to quite simply ask them for their feedback. Most people are happy to share their opinions—especially if they know that you will actually take action on the feedback they provide.

Asking people what you can do better before there is a reason to complain demonstrates your commitment to integrity and excellence. It makes your customers feel valued and underscores that you are committed to creating an enjoyable experience for them. Plus, you might be surprised at some of the good ideas your customers will offer! Here are the three main areas in which you can obtain useful customer feedback for your restaurant business.

Getting Feedback for Your Restaurant In-House

There’s no better time to ask for feedback on your customer’s experience with your restaurant than when they are right there on the premises and the experience is fresh in their minds. Ensure that you have feedback forms readily available, and train your servers to politely ask customers to fill them out to significantly increase your number of responses. Whether you use an old-school pen and paper, or include a digital feedback form in your point-of-sale system, don’t miss the opportunity to get fresh, in-the-moment feedback on how well you’re doing (or anything else you’re curious about, for that matter) right there, in-house.

Getting Feedback for Your Restaurant Through Online Mediums

The digital world offers another rich arena for you to gather feedback from your consumer base. Make sure that your restaurant’s website has a comment form and direct people’s attention to it by putting it on their receipts and sending your social media followers to it. You can also send your mailing list a survey via email. Ensure that the survey is easy to use and express how the feedback will be used to improve the restaurant. If you have an example of how you have taken positive action based on a customer comment, post it for everyone to see. People are more likely to take action if they know that you are really listening.

Useful Feedback Is Already Available in Your Restaurant’s Data

Whether or not you’re actively asking for it, your customers are always giving you useful feedback; you’ll find it in the numbers when you analyze your restaurant’s data. By doing this, you’ll be able to see not only which items you are selling the most (and least), but will also be able to discover trends in the sale of your products that you can take advantage of. Keeping a regular eye on these numbers is particularly easy if you’re running a digital or online ordering system.

The type of feedback you ask for is up to you. You should certainly try to gauge your customer’s satisfaction, but you can also gather feedback on anything else you might be curious about, such as that new menu item or latest change in décor. Some restaurants offer some form of incentive to customers in exchange for providing feedback, and if you’re comfortable giving something away, it will most likely increase your number of responses. That said, you also need to be careful not to undermine your brand’s reputation. Making customers feel that their feedback can really lead to change in the restaurant can be incentive enough in and of itself. However you do it, make sure you are doing it. Gathering customer feedback provides you with invaluable information that can help you run a better and more successful restaurant business.

Better Compensation for Your Restaurant Employees Through Training, Perks and Rewards

July 9, 2014

The on-going debate over minimum-wage for restaurant workers hasn’t moved much over the last several months. Many protestors want to see the minimum wage raised to $15 an hour—a sum which would be difficult for restaurants to achieve without raising menu prices, reducing staff and taking other less-than-desirable measures to compensate for the increased minimum wage. While the debate is likely to go on for some time, the underlying message is clear: restaurant workers want better compensation. Minimum wage may or may not be increased, but many restaurant owners are taking the message to heart and looking for other ways to better compensate their employees, for example, through providing better training, perks and rewards.

Better Compensation for Restaurant Workers Through Rewarding Performance

One tactic that some restaurant owners are using to better compensate their employees is to reward staff for achieving certain sales goals through the use of tracking software. There are a number of analytics software programs available designed to help restaurants keep track of employee performance. Such software can be very valuable in identifying and rewarding the employees who are bringing your restaurant the most business.

These types of programs serve multiple purposes. They help employees build their skills, make better tips (through increased sales) and get the chance to receive extra monetary rewards for their service. Of course, this type of program also serves the most important purpose of making your restaurant more profitable as well.

Better Compensation for Restaurant Workers Through Education & Training

Another method that some restaurant owners are using to better compensate their employees is to provide them with better education and training. In some ways, the worst thing a restaurant can do is “dumb down”the jobs of their workers into something that is rote and process-oriented. The point is to help employees grow and to make the workforce progress. The best way this can be done is through education and training.

This additional education can come in a number of forms—everything from cross-training employees in different positions within your restaurant, to sending them to external training and enhancement conferences. You can also simply educate them more about the products you serve and ethics you would like to uphold in your restaurant and transmit to your customers. Education transforms your employees into more valuable assets for you and any future employer they may have. It also makes them better able to do their jobs for you, which in turn means better sales and profitability for your restaurant.

Better Compensation for Restaurant Workers Through Staff Incentive Programs

Staff incentive programs have been around for a coon’s age, but restaurants of all types are re-examining such programs as a feasible means of better educating and motivating their people. For example, if you have new menu items you’d like to promote, why not run a contest with a reward for the server who can sell the most orders of that item? While the reward can be monetary, it can also be in the form of a nifty gadget, a gift certificate, bill pay, extra vacation time, late arrival, etc.

The point of all of this is that there are a number of ways to provide additional compensation to your people without necessarily increasing their hourly wages. Investing in your workforce by providing them with additional opportunities for education, perks and rewards makes them feel that their jobs with you are more valuable. In turn, this creates a scenario where your employees are invested in and happy with their work, which translates to a more successful restaurant business for you.

3 Advantages to Developing Your Own Restaurant Operations Manual

July 2, 2014

It is neither easy nor quick to develop a system or operations manual for your restaurant. That said, taking the time to do so has a number of advantages and can be a critical factor in the long-term success and profitability of your restaurant. Here are three of the main areas in which the development of an operational manual will assist your overall efforts to grow a thriving restaurant business.

Developing an Operational Manual Helps Your Restaurant Get Out of the Unprofitable Start-Up Phase

Developing a system of checklists, forms and procedures early on in your business drastically reduces the amount of disorganization and chaos that occurs during the start-up phase of any restaurant. It also has the added benefit of allowing you to evaluate virtually every task and activity that takes place in your restaurant. Many find that documenting their systems and operating procedures sheds light on hidden errors and redundancies, as well as provides opportunities for increased productivity and profitability. The sooner you can put a system in place that will allow the average person to duplicate your desired result, the sooner your restaurant can grow from a struggling start-up into a successful business.

Solid Operational Systems Attract and Keep Quality People

One of the primary benefits of implementing operational systems in your restaurant is the ability to create consistency and predictability for both your employees and your customers. Having procedures and systems in place helps to attract and retain customers because they create a predictable and consistent experience that customers can count on having time and again.

Systems, procedures and policies help attract and keep quality employees because they let staff know what to expect from the get-go. If done correctly, these systems provide employees with the information and training they need to be successful at their jobs and achieve the standard of service quality you have set. Even better, when your employees are able to run your restaurant successfully by following the systems you have created, you have now ensured that your restaurant can run without you. This means more free time to focus on growing other aspects of your business and more time for a life outside the restaurant!

Having a Restaurant System in Place Enhances Value and Ability to Obtain Capital

An additional benefit of developing a system and operational manual for your restaurant is that it enhances both the value of your business to a prospective buyer (a buyer’s first question is often “What’s going to happen when the owner is gone?”) as well as your ability to obtain capital for your restaurant. For instance, if you want to expand your concept, having systems will enhance your ability to get money, manage growth and explore new opportunities while ensuring that your existing endeavors continue to function smoothly.

The development of a comprehensive operational plan for your restaurant is no small undertaking and will be an on-going process that you will continually refine over the course of your ownership of a restaurant business. There are many categories in this operational plan for which you will have to develop checklists, policies and procedures and the thought of documenting all of your restaurant’s functions can feel overwhelming. Start by working on the categories that have the most direct impact on your guests’ experiences and work your way along from there. By developing and documenting your unique business system, you increase your opportunity to take your business to the next level, expand your concept and ensure the long-term success of your restaurant. If you need help, there are a number of resources available.

Tips to Set Your Restaurant Business Apart from the Competition

June 25, 2014

Building a thriving consumer base of loyal traffic to your restaurant is often about how well you can set your business apart from the competition. With myriad food options that people have available to them, restaurants must find a way to distinguish themselves in some form or fashion if they hope to attain any memorability—and thus, return customers. Here are a few concepts to think about when considering how to make your restaurant business shine apart from the rest.

Get Your Restaurant Behind Something Novel or Cause-Related

By definition, standing apart from the crowd means that you are not afraid to do something that is, well, different. Having the confidence to be unique and let your individuality shine is attractive to people. Being different than every other restaurant out there can be done in a number of ways. For instance, you could get your restaurant behind a cause that is important to you or the people in your area. There are many to choose from, but a few examples include donating a portion of your proceeds to charity, locally sourcing your ingredients, only providing hormone-free meat on your menu, having a waste reduction and recycling plan in place, etc. Choosing causes that help and affect the local populace are particularly potent choices.

You can also be different by doing something novel. Novelty can come in the form of something old, re-done in a new way, or can be something entirely new that has never been done before. The bottom line to the effective use of novelty is: deliver the unexpected and offer surprises. Think about what is being done in your area and what would catch people’s attention.

Whatever you choose to do to set your restaurant apart from others in the area, make sure to let your customers know about it. Educate your staff to speak about the good or cool things you are doing, provide literature for customers to read while they wait and post regular reports about that awesome thing on your social media sites.

Little Differences in the Restaurant Can Make a Big Difference in Long-Term Loyalty

Setting your restaurant apart from the crowd doesn’t always have to be done in the form of something big, like taking on a cause or niche market. Little differences in the experience people have with your restaurant can be enough, in and of themselves, to keep people coming back again and again.

For example, you might offer unusual sauces for your french fries, like wasabi or pesto. Maybe you bread your dill pickles in a beer battered sauce, grow all of your restaurant’s tomatoes in the parking lot, or artfully arrange your plates complete with your restaurant’s logo toasted onto the inside of the bun, so that even a regular burger and fries feels a little more special than normal. Perhaps you only offer local brews, or even better, maybe you have your own little microbrewery in the back. The point is, these are little touches that are pleasantly surprising and unexpected, yet subtle. They’re not the kind of thing you’re going to put on your marketing materials. Their purposesare to be “cherries on the cake”for your customers’experience when dining in your restaurant.

Keeping a Balance in Your Restaurant Between Service and Sensationalism

Although there are some notable exceptions, novelty and uniqueness alone usually won’t keep customers returning if the food and service isn’t good. This might seem an obvious statement, but it’s crazy how much time and energy some restaurant businesses throw into marketing and getting people through the door without paying close enough attention to their customer’s experience once they’re actually there. Namely, this experience comes down to the customer’s interaction with his server. Do not underestimate the power of direct eye contact, a sincere smile, attentive service and a welcoming atmosphere to pull more weight in building loyal traffic to your restaurant than any other endeavor you could employ.

Transforming Your Good Restaurant into a Successful Business

June 18, 2014

One of the most common occupational hazards for restaurant owners is getting so caught up in the day to day minutiae of operating their restaurants that they lose sight of the big picture—which should be turning their restaurants into successful businesses. The skills that are required to run a successful business are not the same as those required to run a good restaurant, and it’s for that reason alone that many new restaurant businesses fail. They may have a great idea, but lack the business skills to transform that good restaurant idea into a great business.

Being the CEOVs. the EmployeeRestaurant Owner

One of the biggest reasons that restaurants fail to thrive is that the owner is too busy doing the tasks of an employee to make the strategic decisions required to move the business forward. While the “employee”owner is likely working right alongside his or her staff in the daily restaurant operations, the CEO owner is spending his or her time analyzing data, looking for opportunities to improve efficiency and profitability and implementing operational standards and procedures to ensure that an excellent result can be replicated, every time. What’s more, the employee owner is so intimately involved in the daily decisions and details of the restaurant that its successful operation is dependent on the owner’s presence on premises. The CEO owner strives to use the systems created to allow the restaurant to run independently of his presence without a hitch. Daily operational details are in the hands of capable employees and the owner is free to keep his eye on the big picture of growing a successful business.

Aside from the obvious benefit of being able devote more of your attention to the business aspect of your restaurant when you take the position of being a “CEO Owner,”setting up a self-sustaining system also ensures that your restaurant won’t be totally dependent on you to be there all the time. Translation—you’ll be able to have a life outside the restaurant!

Get to Work “On” the Restaurant, Not “In” It!

There are three main areas that the strategic restaurant owner focuses on to ensure a successful business: operations, financial and marketing. Operations includes all the functions necessary to prep and serve your products to your customers and all of the activities that occur every day in the restaurant. The goal here is to set up systems for standards and procedures that will allow the ordinary people you hire to produce excellent results by having very good systems to follow. Without a system, it’s challenging for staff to create a consistent and predictable experience for your guests over and over again. Consistency and predictability go a long way in the eyes of the public. The benefit of setting up operational standards and procedures that can be replicated perfectly time and again can not be overstated.

The financial area includes dealing with accounting, cash management, cost control and both operational and financial reporting. Marketing and advertising includes general marketing and promotional campaigns, positioning your brand, public relations, community involvement and projecting the right image.

The Possibilities for Growing Your Restaurant Business Are Unending

Again, the point is not to be involved in the day to day operations of these operational areas; the owner’s job needs to be “strategic overlook.” Instead, focus on analyzing your data, looking for opportunities for greater efficiency and profitability and developing systems that will allow those great results to be replicated again and again. With more time to plan the success of your business, you’ll have the opportunity to explore new marketing initiatives, new lines of business, the development of multiple locations, or whatever it is that you want to do to grow your restaurant into a successful and profitable business.

Restaurants Are Well Positioned to Take Advantage of Record Tourist Year

June 9, 2014

A record number of international tourists (71.8 million) are expected to visit the U.S. this year, spending over $100 billion on tourism-related goods and services. A good chunk of that money will be spent in restaurants on meals, and restaurant owners and managers who have taken measures to ensure that they are easily found by those tourists will be the beneficiaries of the influx.

A Significant Portion of Restaurant Income Is from Tourist Dollars

Of course, international tourists aren’t the only tourist dollars restaurants should be concerned about. Approximately one out of every four industry sales dollars comes from both international and domestic tourism, underscoring the importance of local and national marketing efforts. Previous research shows that quickservice and tableservice, in particular, attract a significant portion of visitors. Up to 20% of quickservice and 30% of tableservice sales are from travelers and tourists!

Despite the significance of these numbers, many restaurant managers have not yet taken measures to ensure that they are visible to the travelers and tourists passing through their areas. Failing to take travelers into account and not taking measures to attract them is folly. In this year’s modest economy, restaurant owners would be remiss to ignore this ready source of traffic and sales.

Ensure Your Restaurant Is Listed in Local Convention and Visitors Bureaus

Getting a piece of the tourist pie is all about having your establishment listed where travelers will find it. Start by joining your local convention and visitors’ bureaus. Look for other “destination marketing” organizations in your area, and inquire about including your information with their materials. States and bigger towns often have their own membership-based organizations as well. When you get involved with these organizations, your restaurant has the opportunity to be listed on their websites and newsletters and be included with visitor information packets. Membership to these types of groups provides another avenue to promote your restaurant’s business and has the added benefit of helping to support the local economy by attracting travelers carrying an influx of cash.

Make Your Restaurant Easy for Travelers to Find Online

Along with ensuring your presence among the physical organizations in your area, you also want to ensure that your online presence is strong. Make it easy for travelers to find your location, menus, prices, and great photos of your food when they do a general search for the type of food and service you offer in your area. Do this by optimizing your website and content for search engines and mobile devices, by listing your establishment in as many directories and travel guides as you can find and by maintaining a strong social media presence and community. Consider encouraging your existing customers to direct their visitors to your business by providing a special “local fare” offer to travelers.

It is clear that tourism dollars are an important percentage of the restaurant industry’s overall income. This year stands to be particularly good in terms of tourist dollars spent in restaurants. In order to be found by travelers, you have to think like a traveler. If you were visiting a new place, how would you pick a place to eat, knowing nothing about the establishment or area? Making yourself easy to find both on and offline is the key to attracting a portion of the tourist dollars currently flowing through your area.

3 Smart Strategies to Help Manage Your Restaurant’s Food Costs

May 30, 2014

Shrewd management of food costs is critical to any restaurant’s success. It won’t matter if your service and menu items are outstanding if you’re not making enough of a profit margin with the ingredients to come out on top. Fortunately, there are a number of food cost reduction strategies you can employ to reduce waste and help add some cushion to your bottom line.

Waste Management Is Crucial to Trimming Food Costs

One of the simplest, cheapest things you can do you reduce your restaurant’s food costs is to implement an effective waste management program. Some restaurants do this by using tracking software that weighs everything out, keeps tabs on the inventory in use and tracks the amount of waste being produced. Others do this by not letting any little scrap go to waste. For instance: citrus skins can become marmalade, piths can become lemon cream, pits of peaches and plums can be used for cocktail bitters, watermelon rinds can be pickled, food prep trim can be made into stock—you get the idea. It is estimated that 2-3% of the average restaurant’s food costs go out the door as waste. You’d be surprised how much your food costs can be mitigated by simply being more conscientious about managing that waste more effectively. Make sure to communicate with your staff about why waste management is so important as well: getting their buy-in is also critical to the success of your food cost reduction strategies!

Reducing Restaurant Food Costs in Pricing & Purchasing

Despite rising costs in food, labor and energy, many restaurant operators resist raising menu prices for fear of losing customers. While the concern is valid, increasing menu prices is an inevitable result of rising costs. Fortunately, there is a way this can be done with minimal resistance from your consumer base. For instance, research has shown that consumers seeking indulgences (think espressos or high end burgers) are not as sensitive to price increases. Consumers are also more likely to embrace a price increase if it comes in the form of a new menu item, or as a restructuring of an old favorite.

Reducing costs in the purchasing category of overall food costs often comes down to having a solid relationship with your suppliers. It’s important to prioritize key ingredients and then establish genuine partnerships with the vendors who supply them. Suppliers often have alternative options for inventory. It makes sense, therefore, to have a good relationship with them. You want those guys on your side. Top-to-top relationships are essential and partnerships should be entered cautiously. Other options to reduce costs in purchasing include looking for rebates or bundling offers on key products, purchasing the food in a form that results in less labor and/or waste, joining a purchasing cooperative or simply switching vendors.

Reducing Restaurant Food Costs on the Plate

In terms of strategies to reduce food costs on the plate itself, you could try using smaller portions, lower-cost proteins or lower-cost sides. You could increase the focus on sides to allow for a smaller or less-expensive protein. Remember that value perception has a lot to do with “trips to mouth.”You can enhance that perception while simultaneously decreasing food costs by choosing a side item that increases the number of times the fork goes into the mouth.

The cost of food is out of our control, but the way that we manage our food costs is not. Reducing waste and getting smarter about the ingredients you use can make a world of difference in increasing your bottom line.