Understanding your sales over time is critical to lowering food costs and increasing profits. Pull daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual sales reports to determine recent trends as well as year-over-year performance. Use this data to forecast sales, keeping seasonality, upcoming holidays, and historic trends in mind. When you reconcile your actual costs against what was budgeted, you can immediately see any variances and adjust your forecasts—and spending—accordingly.
Sales reports also offer valuable insights into your menu. They can help discern which items aren't selling, particularly those that are costly to prepare. Work with kitchen management to re-engineer your menu, avoiding expensive ingredients. Give your chef creative freedom to come up with more economical versions of pricy entrees, or replace costly side items with ones that have longer seasons, are easier to obtain, or grown locally, all of which reduce the cost of your ingredients.
Train all new staff and reinforce best practices with existing staff regularly to keep food costs top of mind. Appreciating how these expenses directly contribute to the overall success of a restaurant helps them incorporate cost-cutting measures into their everyday tasks. Kitchen staff and bartenders can be more cognizant of precisely measuring ingredients to ensure recipes are followed for consistency and waste is minimized. Waitstaff should discuss dishes in depth with diners to make certain their preferences are noted before the order is fired. Cutting food costs is a team effort!
Food waste is often attributable to incorrectly entering orders into the POS. If a customer orders a hamburger cooked medium and it arrives well done, they're likely to send that order back to the kitchen where it will end up in the trash—along with your profits. With a POS like Exatouch®, required modifiers are simple to set up and ensure staff can't send an order to the kitchen without defining important details such as temperature, side selection, and other crucial steps resulting in less food waste and happier customers.
Mismanaging inventory greatly impacts your food costs and overall bottom line. If inventory is money on the shelf, when any item on that shelf is wasted, it's money down the drain. To minimize waste, take full advantage of the inventory management features built into Exatouch to help:
- Implement a weekly inventory count for high-cost, perishable foods like produce and proteins
- Complete monthly inventory audits to check that on-hand quantities match the counts in your system
- Track food cost variances between your budget and the actual invoice prices
Other ways you can manage inventory to reduce expenses include:
- Organizing your walk-in and storage areas employing a first-in, first-out doctrine to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage
- Sharing inventory duties among several members of your management team to keep everyone's skills, knowledge, and training sharp
- Knowing what's in stock before you order new supplies and ingredients
- Understanding how portion control affects overall food costs—if most of your dishes come back to the kitchen half full or you're going through an inordinate amount of to-go containers, consider resizing your portions
- Asking multiple suppliers for quotes to compare their pricing and service—prices are negotiable and you can find significant savings by switching purveyors