The (Big) Three Culprits

Restaurants are complicated businesses.  There are many moving parts that operators need to keep their eyes on.  As a consultant, I am reminded of this with every client I meet.  Many of whom are very successful businessmen (and women).  They have all managed to be very good at what they do, running their small business, but when it comes down to it, know very little about how to run a restaurant.  I guess that’s why they hire restaurant consultants.

If food costs are high…

Labor is typically the biggest expense in most restaurants, and often the least understood, but we will visit that one in a later post.  The next big one, and the one we want to look at now, is food cost.  The thing about food cost percentage is that you control it!  Or at least you should.  If your food costs seem unusually high, there are three places you should start looking.

1)  Theft

Unfortunately, this does happen in restaurants.  Almost always by the staff.  The staff that you treat like family.  According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 30% of small business failure is due to fraud–80% of which is internal.  In other words, your employees stealing from you.

2)  Portion control

I mentioned this in a recent post, but do you have standard recipes for your cooks to work from?  Control those portions!  The other beautiful benefit from controlling those portions is that your customers will have consistent experiences.  The food will be the same, no matter who happens to be behind that line preparing it.

3)  Spoilage and waste

Make sure that you are controlling that ordering, and the production of food.  Saving money on food because you got a good deal, and therefore bought a lot of it, rarely pans out.  What usually happens is you end up throwing some of it away because it spoiled before you were able to use it all.

Look here first

So, if your food cost percentage is high, start by looking at one of these big three culprits.  Odds are that is where you will find the problem.


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