For a business to be profitable, it needs to be spot on with its pricing and also know how to control costs. This mantra applies to almost all businesses, especially restaurants. If not kept under control, the restaurant’s management may quickly come to terms with food cost problems. Troubleshooting food cost issues and getting the restaurant meal prices under control is vital to stay afloat in the hospitality business.
Food Cost Constituents
A meal’s price typically comprise the price of the food purchased, along with service and preparation costs, and costs of condiments and non-alcoholic beverages. In most scenarios, restaurants put down liquor and essentials such as linen and tableware as separate items within the budget. This gives a better image of the total money actually spent by the restaurant on food.
Overall Budget and Food Costs
Restaurants must look for food costs equating to 28-35 percent of total operating budget. The smaller restaurants must ensure the food costs stay close to the 30 percent mark. Bigger restaurant chains, on the other hand, spend much higher on food, since they may have a large corporation backing their operations. The food costs must go through troubleshooting once they extend beyond 35 percent of the total operating budget – with the focus primarily on waste, portions, training, price and theft.
Food waste augment costs of food. In fact, managers of most cost-efficient restaurants dig into the trash to check the waste. Mostly, items like prepackaged saltines get discarded, despite having been wrapped individually. Fresh food products, like slices of lemon for iced tea, could get wasted if too many of them get served. Also, waste happens when preparing food. Mistakes between kitchen staff and servers who aren’t effectively communicating, or ensuring an efficient trip for the food to the table from the kitchen, ultimately lead to cold or incorrect food orders.
Proper restaurant staff training mitigates all wasteful mishaps; therefore, training assessment progresses looking at the things in the trash when breaking down food costs. Adequately trained restaurant staff make sure diners are properly greeted at the entrance, and the food cooked, arranged, and delivered to the customer on time.
Food costs are also affected by portion control. A server could get tempted to offer her routine customer an additional ice cream scoop – a kind, but expensive gesture. Portion divvying must be consistent, and managers must oversee the portion control aspect of serving. Measuring equal size scoops for line items helps make sure the same food portion gets served to every customer.
No restaurant manager would like to believe a staff is stealing. But if there’s a sudden spike in food costs, theft could probably be the reason. Potential theft can be checked and mitigated by keeping a close watch on the food quantity ordered by suppliers and comparing it to what’s being served. Also, more expensive food items like expensive meats are kept locked in their respective areas so that only responsible employees could have access to the item.
In the end, keeping a check on restaurant meal prices isn’t difficult, provided the manager is responsible, honest and in complete control of the restaurant’s operations.