Today’s weather issues, transportation costs, and the continuing rise in the suppliers’ costs of doing business are precipitating increased costs of raw products to restaurants. It is now even more important to be more efficient with one’s food costs. There is not much margin for error or guesswork in the major item on one’s operating statement. I find it interesting that, over all of the years of doing food costing and with all of the tools I’ve used or seen being used, that controlling food costs boils down to just a few small pointers:
1. Vendor Support: It is important for you and your vendors to ensure the specifications of all of the products that fit your concept. The vendor can assist you in adjusting specs to gain better costs without giving up anything on the quality side.
2. Costing: Develop complete recipe costing to include not only plate cost but also all of the underlying prep recipes. Make sure you yield the products used and not just cost it at the delivered price. You might want to look at the hidden costs, which include cooking oils, spices, butter, etc. Some of your vendors may be able to help with this costing.
3. Portion Control Tools: You need scoops, spoons, and portion bags to allow your staff to be accurate on the amount of product that goes onto a plate.
4. Plate Evaluation: You have probably been utilizing the same plateware for a while and you likely believe in certain portion sizes because you’ve been doing this for a long time. I recommend that you bring in a trained third party to take a look at this with you. There may be a better way of presenting a plate of food that is more cost efficient without sacrificing any value.
5. Sales Analysis: Look at the top ten sellers, maybe twenty. This is where the lion’s share of the cost is. This is where you need to become more cost efficient.
6. Ordering Guidebook: The person who is responsible for the ordering should use an ordering guidebook that shows the amount of product on hand (which can be found in all of the storage areas) and a par stock for each day of the week. We always order to the par stock.
I could go on with many other tools, but I think that if you follow the six items above you will minimize your costs and maximize your profits. We have found that communication with the kitchen staff on a regular basis with a focus on food cost will definitely precipitate a better food cost.