Cash Flow Management


Uncertain times brings about weakening sales, less cash available and plenty of angst on the part of management because they are worried/concerned about their jobs, money, their own issues, et al.

So what is one to do?

  • Develop an operating budget for the week, month, and year. Spell out each line item so it is clear to your management team.
  • Each team member is responsible/accountable for their line item(s) on the budget. This should include a sales line as well. I would do the sales line by day part. (customer count times guest check average = sales)
  • Budget the labor. Develop a manning chart.
  • Budget the cost of goods. If your intent is to lower the cost of goods give yourself enough time to whittle it down to the desired level. This category is going to take the most time to lower and become more efficient which is a whole other topic(s).
  • Look closely at all of the operational expenses. Are you maximizing them? Look at past results as a barometer but you don’t need to actually abide by them. It is a new day and age so you have license to take a chunk out of them.
  • Each team member has a “checkbook” for their cost line(s). They have a budgeted amount to spend each week/month and must track it carefully in their checkbook.

The results versus the budget needs to be tracked weekly and each team member needs to submit a written report on how it is going. Variances to the budget need to be accounted for and the remedy(s) need to be listed with a plan of action.


Management needs a sense of purpose, goals & objectives, a pathway to success, rewards, reviews and the like. We have found that weekly meetings with the management team as a whole and the individual members make everything better: financials, service, food, cleanliness, marketing, repairs, and spawns a host of new ideas to take the business to another level.

As an owner or the CEO, you need to set up the objectives for yourself for the year to, firstly, get comfortable, run them by some trusted advisors, and then present them to the management team. The team will generally buy off and probably give you some additional input on what could be done to even “raise the bar higher”.

As the leader you need to guide the process, keep it organized, communicate, and follow up. Each team member needs to have short term goals (monthly) and long term goals (annually). Goals are an agreement between you and the team member and need to be documented in writing. The progress needs to be checked. Coach the team member on how to be successful. Quantify the results (accountability). It is easier to see results in writing and on a chart. It needs to be a linear, straight forward process that everyone can see (transparency). There should be rewards as needed as well as constructive criticism. You should listen carefully to each person. They should pay attention to you as well. This communication is a two way street.

Our experience is that sales go up and costs come down when a plan as described is in place and is followed through upon. Everyone is happier. Why? Because they know where they stand. There is no ambiguity. Everyone knows the pathway to success.


Age old issue so what else is new? This is the bane of every operator we’ve ever come across. Most operators think that the way to lower the cost is through buying less expensively. There is an element of truth to this, but we’ve never seen the food cost drop because of the buying proposition. So here are some quick tips on what to do:

  • Are the recipes accurate? Check them yourself and then do a “Thumbnail” cost of your top 10-20 sellers.
  • Today is not the right time to “raise” prices so you need to approach the cost of goods from an ingredient standpoint. Check with your vendors on what may be able to be substituted for some of your more costly ingredients. There are a number of options available.
  • Check your POS to ensure everything has the right pricing. And the right tax.
  • Do you have a “prompt” on your POS for coffees, soft drinks, etc. that are server issued.
  • How is the security on the walk-in, freezer, and dry stores? How about paper goods, cleaning supplies, dishes & utensils, kitchen smallwares? While not part of the food cost lack of security just opens the door for “honest people doing dishonest things”.
  • How is your receiving process? Are you checking in all orders? Are you weighing them in? Are you checking invoice pricing with quoted pricing?
  • How about the prep function? Are procedures in place? Spend some time with the prep staff to see if they are following the recipe guide.
  • Spend more time in the kitchen checking, testing, weighing, tasting, et al. This will guarantee the food cost going down. And the food being better.
  • While you are at it check the plates for taste/flavor, eye appeal, consistency, etc.

So this is the short story on food cost. Checking in on food cost transcends to better kitchen cost controls and better food. You will be shocked at what you see if you haven’t been spending much time in the kitchen recently.

If you need assistance in any of these areas, please contact Arnold at 206.679.1037.

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