The food industry is highly competitive. Every year, tons of new restaurants or café open up, and there are more options than people want. In such a scenario, it is hard to survive, especially when it comes to managing the food cost of a restaurant. A restaurant can manage the cost if ambience or personnel, but you cannot compromise with food quality which means that the price of the same will be high.
The problem here is that cooking with fresh produce means you are working with perishable products, so if you are unable to use all the products, a lot of money goes down the drain. Similarly, no matter how in bulk you order other food items, they are costly as retail prices have gone up by 25% in the last five years.
Also, if you try to stick to a few staff or so, it will hurt the restaurant later. It feels like you are stuck from all sides, isn’t it? But don’t worry, here are some tips to manage restaurant food cost.
1. Forecast sales
Forecasting sales do more than control your food cost. It can also help you manage employee scheduling and preparing food and ordering inventory. Thus, look at your sales for weeks all year round to make a schedule for the upcoming weeks. It will tell you how much you are selling and what food item you are selling the most. It will aid you in stocking up on the right items, and not waste money on things that don’t sell much.
But be careful of any special occasions coming up. If a festival or music night or so on is coming, make sure you take that into account as well.
2. Being consistent with tracking inventory
If you are consistent with tracking your inventory, you will be able to manage the inventory better. It is best to do inventory at the start or end of a day as then you are sure what you have left and how much you used. It also gives you a correct calculation of the amount you have spent on perishables and other food items daily.
3. Set food cost goals and track them
When you know what percentage of sales you are making in a day, you can make goals. Make sure you know the difference between actual food cost and the ideal food. Also, account for the cost of food that you threw away or became waste or got damaged because they are a lot.
When you keep a track on them, it will become easy to know where you are wasting and where you can save and what steps you can take in that direction.
4. Negotiate with food suppliers
Now that you know the amount of food you need at a particular time, you can work with your food suppliers. It is always okay to negotiate unless and until you are becoming a burden on them.
Also, if you feel like their prices are too high, you can check in with other food suppliers. Shop around and stick with someone with high quality and affordable prices. For some things, you will have to go with high prices as they have the best quality, and it is best for the business.
Also, you can buy bulk supplies from the supplier, but ask them to deliver it in various shipments. It is cost-effective as well as it ensures you have enough items throughout a certain period.
A lot of time, we have certain items on our menu that are costly and are unpopular as well. So, take time to look at your menu, and do away with those items. Keep the popular ones but switching up the menu is always a good idea.
You can use Canva to design eye catching menus.
6. Be clear about staff meals
The employees who work for you are the backbone of your business. So, free or discounted meals is critical as it builds team morale and keeps the employee motivated to work in a cut-throat industry.
That said, have boundaries and whatever you decide on- free meals or discounted meals or whatever, make sure you convey the same with clarity to all employees.
These six methods are backed by experiences of successful restaurant owners. It may work for you, so do give them a try.