High food costs are a problem for many restaurants. It is an even bigger issue for solo restaurateurs without the resources and budget of larger chains and operating groups. A lack of accounting skills is often cited as one of the top reasons restaurants fail, according to celebrity chef and restaurateur, Robert Irvine in an interview with Business Insider. To help prevent your restaurant from being a casualty, here are some ways restaurants are combating high food costs.
Use a POS with Inventory Tracking
Many restaurants today are using a point-of-sale system with inventory tracking to keep tabs on the food products that are purchased. Since a restaurant may have dozens or even hundreds of items, it’s nearly impossible to know the real food costs without it. So if you don’t have one, get a POS with inventory tracking as soon as possible. Then take the time to learn the system and use it religiously to input your inventory and its associated costs. Trust me, it will be the best decision you can make and it just may save your restaurant.
Reconcile Inventory Daily
Successful restaurant chefs and management know their inventory. They know the food items that are consumed the most and what’s still in the freezer. That’s why an inventory tracking system is virtually useless without regular reconciliation of the inventory. Ideally, inventory is one of those chores that should be done after closing every day. Reconciling the inventory regularly also helps prevent product spoilage and over-ordering both of which add to excessive food costs and can burn through cash faster than the restaurant earns it.
Control Portion Sizes
Let’s face it, no chef wants a diner to leave hungry. But when the majority of diners are leaving food on the plate or walking out with a “doggie” bag, it’s a good indication that portion size may be out of control. The good news is that most diners won’t notice subtle changes in portion size, but it can help lower food costs in a big way without having to raise menu prices.
Buy Bulk Ingredients
While pre-portioned or individually wrapped ingredients may be more convenient, they are considerably more expensive than buying in bulk. Buying your most frequently consumed food products in bulk quantities can significantly reduce food costs. When you weight the time savings from prepping vs. food cost, you may discover that the higher purchase cost equates to more than the time it takes to do the prep work yourself.