Keeping your restaurant in the black can be challenging as food prices rise. Your costs are also climbing, and even high-end diners can struggle to justify a restaurant meal if you must raise your prices. Making sure that you get the best use out of the foods that you bring in is critical to your success.
Inventory The Most Expensive Foods
The most expensive foods for restaurant owners are generally protein-based. However, there are many produce items that can be quite costly. For example, strawberries are not cheap, have a short shelf life, and are often tied to dessert, which is not the costliest item on the menu.
As you inventory the items that cost you the most, make sure you also list a "use by" date. If you can usually get 3 days out of a box of strawberries, make sure your special promotion for strawberry shortcake is ready to roll for the weekend when you get your strawberries in on Friday morning.
Loop in your employees as well. If you really need to push a particular product to get it out the door before it spoils, offer a cash prize for every menu item containing that food sold.
Automate What You Can
There are many products that have a very short shelf life. If you serve a regular brunch buffet, you can keep granola on the shelf for much longer than you can store strawberries and bananas. For many fresh products, determining the par level, which stands for periodic automatic replacement, can save you a great deal of time.
Produce is generally the quickest product to go bad, closely followed by fresh meats, then dairy and eggs. If you notice that, at your brunch, you're always running out of bananas, you probably want to bump up your frequency of delivery to confirm freshness, rather than bringing in more bananas that may not survive.
Keep a spoilage sheet in the kitchen and, as possible, list the price of what went in the garbage. Knowing how much of your investment is going in the dumpster each week can help you determine any menu changes you need to make.
Make sure you also talk to your suppliers. If you bring in flash-frozen seafood for certain dishes but still want fresh ahi tuna for your appetizer listing, it may be necessary to bring in multiple deliveries of seafood each month to protect against waste.
Create Specials Around Food Gluts
If you find that you suddenly have far too much chicken on Tuesday and have more coming in Friday, then Wednesday may need to include a fried chicken special. For this reason, it may also be a good idea to have a dedicated space for extra take-out containers and plastic bags; you may have a special that suits folks headed home for dinner.
In such cases, it's a very good idea to have a social media presence for your restaurant. You can't always be sure that Wednesday will be fried chicken day, but if you put a big promotion on Facebook and on your website, it may turn out to be a good idea.
Finally, make sure that your menu is viewable via a QR code. Even if you can't update the code to include your newest specials, put a blurb within the golden triangle of your menu to encourage patrons to check your website and social media for specials.
The golden triangle is comprised of three points on your menu. The upper right, upper left, and center of your menu are the spots most likely to get seen. Place menu items with the greatest return in the corners and a social media promotion in the middle.
Customize Lower Cost Items
Potatoes are cheap. However, the twice-baked luscious potato treats at your restaurant are unique. The more customizations you can make to basic staples that have a longer shelf life, the more you can turn these humble foods into bigger money-makers.
A quality cut of fish or beef, broiled to perfection and served on a plate, is a good investment for a client. Served on a bed of herbed rice, it's a heartier meal. Scratch-made herbed rice will not take your chef a great deal of time and can bulk up the meals served without hitting your bottom line too hard. Additionally, your clients may choose to stretch the meal and come back for another delicious bargain.
Building loyalty for your restaurant is all about producing consistent foods. Monitoring your inventory and serving foods fresh will contribute to your good reputation.