In a recent article from Restaurant News, industry leaders were asked the following question: “When it comes to politics, what is keeping you up at night, and what are you doing about it?” Here are their responses:
“The Affordable Care Act is really front and center for restaurant operators — trying to figure out how to do it, how it’s going to impact our staff and whether it’s going to be harder for our customers to go out [because we’ll have to raise prices]. Being a franchise company, most of our franchisees don’t have that many employees, so our group is going to have to decide how to proceed. Even talking to the politicians, they’re still very unsure about how it’s going to turn out. We’re just trying to learn and educate ourselves.”
— Nick Vojnovic, president, Little Greek Franchise Development Inc., parent of the 11-unit fast-casual Little Greek Restaurant chain in Brandon, Fla.
“We monitor all of the [government] happenings, but the one thing that keeps everyone up for sure is health care reform. We’re just trying to stay as informed as we can as it evolves. We read about it, learn through our accountants and attorneys, the health care provider we use. We’re trying to be smart about it and listen and educate ourselves as best we can.”
— Tim McEnery, founder and chief executive, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, a 12-unit polished-casual chain in Countryside, Ill.
“Really at the forefront right now is the Affordable Care Act and our ability to be able to really digest it. It’s very, very complex. As a franchisor we have to be able to really understand the law’s implications and be able to help our franchisees. We’ve had conference calls with our franchise owners to hopefully help guide them and help them with what they should be doing to figure out health care now.”
— David McDougall, chief executive, Back Yard Burgers, an 85-unit quick-service chain in Nashville, Tenn.
“We’re watching a lot on health care. In our restaurants we’ve always been at 30 hours per week for [full-time] employees. If we can figure out a way to pay for it, we could really have a leg up in attracting the best talent. Philosophically, that’s where we’d like to be. Team members are going to look for those kinds of employers.”
— Phil Keiser, president, Culver Franchising System Inc., the Prairie du Sac, Wis.-based parent of the 475-unit quick-service Culver’s chain
“The personal well-being and success of our employees and franchise partners is always first and foremost on my mind. With the looming Affordable Care Act and other pending legislation, we are devoting a considerable amount of time and resources to fully understand how these mandates will impact our employees and franchisees.”
— Mike Hislop, chief executive, 145-plus-unit Corner Bakery Café and 21-unit Il Fornaio in Dallas
“It’s pretty clear to me that politicians will continue to not come to an agreement on the national debt. Inflation will continue to rise even more rapidly within the next two to four years. Everyone’s feeling fat and happy and still spending money, but what happens when the money printing stops? When the government starts being fiscally responsible, will consumers suddenly feel a whole lot poorer? They certainly will.To prepare, we are not doing high-end brands. I’m focusing on brands that I think are more insulated, more recession proof. All we can do as inflation kicks in is to raise prices accordingly.”
— Pierre Panos, founder and chief executive, QS America, the Atlanta-based parent of the eight-unit Fresh to Order fast-casual chain
To learn more about leading concerns, check out our blog post on health care reform and it’s effects on the restaurant industry. Continue the conversation on our Facebook page and let us know what’s keeping you up at night!
The restaurant menu is the newest thing to “go digital” and it’s no surprise, living in the modern information age that drives current trends. iPads are changing how fine-dining establishments operate their businesses.
Fine dining is an industry built on human interactions, but the tablet is changing that interface in a variety of ways. Tablets have become a substitute for the paper menu, creating a more knowledgeable consumer. Payments can be done tableside, taking a fraction of the time to pay a check. Some restaurants have opted to update their point-of-sale systems with tablets instead of boxy computers. Even the server’s pad has been updated to a hand-held device.
However, new technology doesn’t come without challenges. The most cautionary issue is Internet and bandwidth capabilities. The wireless connection needs to span the entire restaurant and accommodate moving devices; no one wants a dead zone or issues accessing the needed functionality to operate successfully.
The initial start-up costs can also be a prohibiting factor or challenge, but in the end, it’s a sound investment in a changing industry. Until a computer can learn how to refill water glasses, said Pappas, humans will always be needed and ultimately, there will always be the need for a person to take care of the guests, especially in the fine-dining industry.
iPads aren’t the only thing trending in the restaurant industry. These other technological innovations are growing in popularity. Read through this list compiled by forbes.com and get inspired to make your restaurant more technically savvy.
Mobile ordering. This is one area where fast-food chains are in the forefront. Domino’s Pizza is so far along with it, they recently introduced their Spanish-language mobile-ordering app.
iPad order kiosks. Why wait in line if you can file your order at a kiosk immediately, and then sit down and relax? Blazing Onion Burger Company is testing this system out in a new restaurant opened last month in Seattle. Expect more of this, since it could help prevent walk-aways and result in more orders.
Facebook ordering. This may be the biggest technology leap coming in the next year, as nearly 100 percent of restaurant owners say they plan to have a Facebook presence by next year. Companies specializing in Facebook-payment integration for restaurants such as ChowNow and NetWaiter are helping chains to get their ordering onto the popular platform. This is a fairly low-cost add-on to make, and it has the potential to grow sales, which always gets a restaurauteur’s attention. For instance, the Taco Spot in Charleston, SC saw a 10 percent sales bump after implementing Facebook-based ordering, trade magazine Fast Casual recently reported.
Tabletop e-waiter & checkout. Diners hate it when waiters take their credit card away and run it up at the register — it’s a common point for credit-card fraud. Hand them a restaurant iPad they can self-checkout on where their card doesn’t leave their sight, and they’re happy. That often-endless wait for the card and bill to return doesn’t win fans, either. E la Carte’s Presto tablet is one solution that offers tableside self-checkout and more — it even suggests additional items to order, and the company reports it cuts 7 minutes off the average diner’s stay. Customers are happy with the faster service, and restaurants can serve more diners per night. Airport-restaurant chain HMSHost is among the operators using Presto.
Digital menu boards + smartphones. Watch for fast-food restaurants to change menus more often, because digital menu boards make it so much easier than manually changing prices and items. Digital signage also allows quick-serve restaurants to provide entertainment and interactivity while you wait in line — for example, Boston-based burrito chain Boloco’s digital signboard allows patrons to play tic-tac-toe against friends or the computer while they wait.
Games while-u-wait. Gaming industry sources report McDonald’s is projecting gesture-enabled games onto restaurant floors for kids to play while they wait for Happy Meals, in 150 of the chain’s higher-profile locations. Now that’ll keep kids busy — and we all know happy kids mean happy parents who come back to your restaurant.
Online coupons. More restaurants are using digital coupons, and diners gobble them up — in the Technomic survey, 58 percent of diners said they’ve already used them.
Thousands of restaurants are extending their operation hours in hopes of getting more customers, specifically during the early morning and late nighttime slots. With a lean economy squeezing their sales, franchisees are learning that it can take a lot of work to target this specific market of diners. Basically, restaurants need to shoulder more expenses to keep the lights on longer, but the crowds aren’t that big at odd hours, and customers don’t end up spending very much. In fact, franchisees and industry experts say, some markets may not have enough all-night types to make the concept work at all.
Longer hours appeal mostly to “younger folks out and about, and they have cut back so much on restaurants,” says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant-industry analyst at research firm NPD Group. “Maybe if you’re in some big metropolitan or tourist areas it’s worthwhile.”
The concept of extended hours has made big by restaurants like McDonald’s with 14,100 U.S. locations and Dunkin’ Donuts who has doubled its number of 24-hour restaurants over the past decade to nearly a third of its 7,000+ U.S. outlets.
It isn’t just night owls they’re going after. Fast-food chains are also trying to appeal to early diners. For instance, Taco Bell implemented a breakfast menu for the first time last year, and today 825 stores across 14 states open their doors between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., instead of the usual 10 a.m.
For many franchisees, extending hours is an alluring idea, since it lets them bring in more revenue without boosting fixed costs like rent. It can also simplify other parts of the workday: Outlets that stay open around the clock, for instance, can eliminate procedures for opening and closing the restaurant.
But some owners and franchise experts worry that the practice simply doesn’t bring big payoffs. Even though fixed costs don’t rise, there are added expenses such as higher utility bills and extra pay for hourly employees working the graveyard shift. Simply finding people to work those hours can be a struggle.
Meanwhile, the boost in sales can be meager. Research shows that consumers still prefer to eat at fast-food joints during traditional hours. Noon to 1 p.m. is the busiest time of day for quick-service restaurants, accounting for about 15% of customer visits last year, according to NPD Group.
For all the risks, some argue that extended hours can work—provided owners do their homework before implementing them.
To find out if expanding hours makes sense in a given market, it is recommended that you patrol the neighborhood during the period you’re thinking of opening to see how busy it is and what the competition is like. It’s also suggested that you ask existing customers about their interest in coming in during hours when your restaurant is normally closed. Ultimately, patience is a virtue. You cannot expect to change hours and have an instant swell in business. Such a change requires time before success will become evident.
To read more, check out the article from the Wall Street Journal by Sarah Needleman.
Menu Engineering is defined as an interdisciplinary field of study devoted to the deliberate and strategic construction of menus. Essentially, your menu is the key to your restaurant and careful effort should be made to ensure it is working for you.
Your menu is the single most important document you can ever write—it’s your business plan, your marketing statement, your training menu, and your ordering guide. Menu engineering is part art, part science, and can be quite complex, MenuMax helps to simplify the process for you. It enables you to easily see food cost, and set your costing threshold, customizing it to fit your needs. In addition, MenuMax provides nutrition information that can be printed or exported as a pdf and used in your menu, posted in your restaurant and/or to your website. Listed below are the top ten menu engineering tips from Nestle Professional, to help ensure your menu is reaching it’s maximum potential.
1. Reinforce Your Brand Image
If the restaurant is sleek and upscale, the menu should be too, while a casual family-style restaurant can be more whimsical and fun.
2. Place Stars in the Hot Zones
The vast majority of patrons read menus the same way: On a one-page menu, they look at the first few items at the top, then skip to the bottom, then return to the middle of the page. On a two-page menu, diners start at the top right, then move to the top left, then to the bottom right, and on to the middle. Position your best items (most profitable, lowest food cost, etc.) in those areas where the eye naturally comes to rest, which many menu designers refer to as a “hot zone” or “sweet spot.”
3. Don’t Organize by Price
Never place items ranked by price; mix it up to get the customers focus off the cost and on the description of the dish. By the same token, don’t right-justify prices on the menu—they stand out too much. Tuck the price in at
the end of the description, where it will tend to disappear. Also, use a slightly smaller font for prices, since numerals in the same font appear larger than letters.
4. Drop the Dollar Signs
According to a study by The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University, on average, customers spent 8% more when prices were in numerals with no dollar sign (20) versus in dollars and cents ($20.00) or written out (twenty dollars).
5. Keep it Legible
That means a type size that’s large enough and dark (or contrasty) enough to stand out against the background, and avoid cursive or overly elaborate fonts. Also, avoid all-capital letters except for the very shortest runs of letters (such as the heading DESSERTS).
6. Print Your Daily Specials
Provide daily specials in a written format, with prices, even if your servers announce the specials. Unless you only have one or two daily specials, customers will forget what the server says. And absolutely include the price: Any surprise is a bad surprise.
7. Use Graphics to Give Items a Shout-Out
Boxes (shaded or outlined), type and color changes, photos, and other graphic treatments draw the eye; use these devices to highlight high-profit items or other dishes that you want to “sell.”
8. Be Descriptive…but Not Too Descriptive
Strive for copy that’s descriptive without going overboard—there’s a happy medium between too little copy (“steak”) and every single detail about where the cow was raised. If you want to give a shout-out to local farmers, cheese artisans, or other suppliers, it can be put in a general statement at the bottom of the menu.
9. Check Your Spelling
Then check it again. While you’re at it, show the menu to a few people you trust, including servers, to get their input.
10. Take Care of Special Needs
Be sure to mention ingredients that might be allergens, such as peanuts or peanut butter, or ingredients like bacon or chicken stock in a dish that would otherwise sound vegetarian (for example, cream of broccoli soup).
And Don’t Forget: Keep it clean. With so many options for desktop publishing, there’s no excuse for handing a patron a stained or crumpled menu. Ever. End of story.
The effectiveness of deals in driving traffic to restaurants has declined considerably, according to a new survey from market research company The NPD Group. Research was captured from more than 4 million consumer restaurant visits over the past year and shows that restaurant visits using a “meal deal” had declined by 3% in 2012. Traditionally, combo meals and value menu item offers, the most frequently used types of deals, were responsible for the decline in traffic. Some examples of these offers include the $1 menu from McDonald’s and the $10 dinner box from Pizza Hut. But it is not just ‘fast’ food that runs such promotions. Popular sit-down dining restaurants, such as Red Lobster’s $7.99 lunch special, also have such offers.
The data does not undermine the importance of deals in the restaurant business; in fact, deals were the driving force during the peak of the recession. Non-deal traffic had fallen by 1% while deal traffic gained 5% in 2008.
In 2009, deal traffic had increased by 3% in while non-deal traffic had declined by 4%. Deal traffic went nearly flat in 2010, while non-deal traffic had declined by 1%. In 2011, both deal and non-deal traffic was unchanged. 2012 provided the first glimpse at a changing industry. Non-deal traffic had gone up by 2% while deals had fallen by 3%. So what changed?
Ultimately, the deal has been in place for too long. Restaurants made an effort to offer great deals to drive traffic during the recession, but consumers have now become reliant on such promotions, essentially believing that the “deal” price is the regular price. For example, the “two for $20″ craze is now available at nearly every casual dining restaurant during lunchtime with many offering it during the dinner hours as well.
The restaurant industry needs to get creative and change consumer perception of these types of meal deals. Relying on existing value items and bundled meals may no longer be a viable option for restaurateurs. There is a silver lining, however. While ‘deals’ may be declining, visits based on coupons such as “buy one, get one free” and discounted prices are on the rise. Perhaps future marketing efforts should focus on these types of promotions in order to drive consumer traffic.
Regardless of the industry, inventory is a crucial piece of the puzzle, however, when it comes to managing a restaurant, this is particularly true. After all, a lack of inventory control in a restaurant setting can result in product and profit loss. Though inventory is often tedious and problematic, you can make the process easier by engaging in some smart practices. Ultimately, effective inventory is tied to business success, thus engaging in efficient inventory management is a must.
The goal of inventory is to prevent food from spoiling and to ensure that you have the necessary ingredients to continue to run your restaurant. To be effective, inventory must be conducted often. It is best to set a specific day to check inventory each month (i.e. the 1st, 15th, or last day of the month) By setting a particular day, you will ensure that inventory doesn’t fall through the cracks. The inventory feature of MenuMax can help simplify this practice even further by keeping an up-to-date inventory in an easy-to-use, simple-to-read spreadsheet format that helps you manage your inventory.
One of the easiest ways to deal with an overabundance of one particular product is to repurpose it into other menu items and/or restaurant specials. Plan for this in advance by gathering recipes that feature some of the items you commonly have in excess. Keep these recipes on file for reference when needed. MenuMax enables you to store all recipes on a web-based platform, accessible with any computer that has Internet access. This enables you to access recipes for such occasions in a swift and easy manner.
Ultimately, your staff carries out the inventory procedure; therefore, they must fully understand the process associated with this control element. Begin by training your staff, regardless of whether or not you expect them to conduct inventory. This ensures that everyone understands the procedures associated with this important process and is able to carry out the procedure.
Allow your ordering to be guided by your inventory. Review inventory history when creating new orders to ensure that you don’t ‘over-order’ certain items repeatedly. Change your ordering plans seasonally to ensure that your ordering aligns with your food usage as the weather and trends change.
Identifying Common Losses
After conducting inventory for an extended period, it is likely that a pattern of usage and waste will begin to emerge. Instead of filing past inventory results, review them, paying attention to which products in particular you seem to always have too much of. Make the appropriate adjustments as necessary to better control your inventory.
MenuMax enables you to better control your inventory by providing customizable features to appeal to your specific environment. You can organize products into categories/locations, create detailed count sheets, customize inventory locations, organize/search for past invoices, and obtain detailed inventory reports. For more information on how this functionality can help you, visit our website at MenuMax.com or email Max@MenuMax.com for a demo.
In today’s world, Internet is king, so it’s only fitting that web based reviews are a driving force in customer traffic within the restaurant industry. The National Restaurant Association found that 34% of all adults rely on information posted on peer-review websites and factor it into their decision when choosing where to eat. This common practice can be a make or break factor for a restaurant. Great reviews can drive consumer traffic while poor reviews have the opposite affect.
Simply put, it’s hard to ignore the potential that customer reviews hold, both good and bad. Most web based review platforms rely on two-way conversation and a proactive attitude is essential to controlling negative comments and sharing positive reviews.
Here are four tips for dealing with online user reviews:
1) Do NOT ignore online reviews.
The Internet is permanent. Even if deleted, old web pages can still be viewed, potentially damaging your reputation. Stay involved, checking review sites regularly, reading the good and the bad. This can help improve the restaurant and draw attention to areas that may need adjusting.
In many situations, response is necessary to demonstrate to customers that you do “care” about what they have to say. When responding to negative comments, send the reviewer a message privately rather than responding publicly. This helps prevent an online “battle” and lessens the chance of further damage to the restaurant image. If desired, add a note to the negative review that says you followed up with the patron privately to publicly demonstrate that you respond to both positive and negative comments.
3) Offer Incentive
Consider inviting negative reviewers back in for a complimentary visit, especially if it was their first experience at the restaurant. If that seems like too much, offer them a discount to come back. Make sure to follow up with them to ensure the second visit was positive. Similarly, do not let positive reviews go unrewarded. Try providing outstanding reviewers with a coupon or discount on their next visit as well. This will encourage them to continue to post positive reviews about the restaurant.
4) Share (the good & bad)
Share positive feedback with staff and management to boost employee morale. Ensure that you share the legitimate critiques with them as well. This will help make improvements to your food, service and restaurant overall.
MenuMax offers a comprehensive solution for food service professionals enabling the organization and optimization of recipe managment, food cost, nutrition analysis and inventory managment. However, many users overlook the many report functions MenuMax offers.
Included in a MenuMax subscription is a simple-to-use worksheet that helps create budgets and income statements for your operation. When you enter prior-year sales, it helps you project anticipated revenue for the upcoming months. A revenue calculator allows you to predict monthly revenue based on a per-check average and compare your projected and actual annual operating budgets. In addition, MenuMax provides you with a profit analyzer that maps the average guest revenue needed to break even and meet expected profit status.
MenuMax also offers helpful tools for sales forecasting, managing the annual budget, analyzing profit and keeping track of utilities, cleaning, promotions, supplies and more via monthly breakdowns designed to help you successfully manage your back-of-house operations.
Our Menu Engineering Worksheet application allows you to enter in the number of items sold, and then sorts the results enabling you to view the popularity of the item, the sale price, item profit, in additional to total revenue, cost and profit to help improve your menu, allowing you to identify and remove any failing items.
MenuMax also enables you to run nutrition reports, displaying calories, cholesterol, fiber, iron, protein, fat, sugar, sodium, carbs, and vitamin C for each menu item based on 27,000 ingredients integrated from the ESHA Nutrient Database to ensure accurate nutrition analysis utilizing an FDA approved method. This functionality also allows you to export the information in an easy to read, universal PDF format that can be implemented into other applications to help simply your operations.
To learn more about the functionality of MenuMax visit our website www.menumax.com. If you are interested in accessing these useful features, visit our YouTube account to review video tutorials that show you how to take advantage of MenuMax’s full range of tools.
Casual dining restaurant sales fell 5.4 percent last month after declining 0.6 percent in January and 1.6 percent in December, according to the Knapp-Track Index of monthly restaurant sales.
This was the first three months of consecutive declines in almost three years, with consumers caught in a “very emotional moment,” said Malcolm Knapp, a New York-based consultant who created the index and has monitored the industry since 1970.
This is the industry’s worse three-month drop since 2010 and is likely the result of higher payroll taxes and health-care premiums, rising gas prices and the continued debates in Washington. The Bloomberg U.S. Full-Service Restaurant Index, which includes 21 companies, has also seen similar patterns, underperforming the Standard & Poor’s 500 index by 8.2 percentage points since May 29.
U.S. paychecks have decreased since Congress and the President let the tax that funds Social Security benefits revert back to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent. Consumers and industry contacts both agree that higher payroll taxes have been the biggest impediment to sales this year, hurting business for about 63 percent of companies. Meanwhile, 54 percent of Americans said they already cut back on dining out or intend to do so, the No. 1 reduced expense, followed by clothing and vacations according to surveys conducted this month by RBC Capital Markets.
Ultimately, the difference of five guests a day could move a restaurant’s traffic counts by 1 percentage point. So how do you drive traffic to increase your margins? Dave Zino, executive chef of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association suggests simplicity. “Clean favors and edible garnishes are trends operators can follow to make their center-of-the-plate offerings more appealing and build orders.”
Zino also advises that restaurateurs can keep down costs for beef and other commodities with rising price tags by trying different cuts and using smaller portion sizes presented in new ways.
A platform such as MenuMax enables operators to analyze food cost and ensure proper pricing in order to maximize the margin of profit on each menu item. If you are struggling, learn how MenuMax functionality can help by visiting our website www.MenuMax.com
MenuMax is excited to announce its latest partnership with Essential Cloud! Essential Cloud offers restaurant owners a selection of proven apps, cloud technologies, and managed services designed specifically for the food service industry and targeted to attract and retain customers and improve customer experience and efficiency.
MenuMax is being offered in the bundle of restaurant solutions as the premiere web-based application for Recipe Management and Menus as well as Food Costing, Nutrition Analysis and Inventory. Essential Cloud enables users to access the restaurant bundle of applications for a lower monthly fee than if purchased separately. MenuMax is available through Essential Cloud as part of the restaurant package and also as a standalone tool through AppDirect.
Representatives from MenuMax will be at the Las Vegas Restaurant Show Tuesday March 12th and Wednesday March 13th in the Nevada Restaurant Association island at the Essential Cloud booth offering quick demos and answering questions. If you are interested, please stop by!
Stay tuned for special show offers. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates from the show.
Managing a restaurant comes with many challenges. In addition to managing daily operations, food service professionals are faced with difficulties surrounding new legislation regarding health care, nutrition labeling and now a potential increase in minimum wage rates.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif) along with a restaurant owner and two quick-service employees, held a press conference Tuesday, March 5th to jointly introduce a bill seeking to raise the federal minimum wage by nearly 40 percent. If passed, the bill would increase the minimum wage from the $7.25 per hour to $10.10 by 2016.
In his State of the Union address three weeks ago, President Obama called for the minimum wage to be increased to $9 an hour. The last time Congress raised the minimum wage was in 2007, when it was boosted from $5.15 to the current $7.25. Presently, 19 states have their minimum wages set at federal levels, while the remaining 31 states and District of Columbia are a patchwork of their own minimum rates, including 10 states that tie their minimum wages to inflation, as the president has proposed for the federal rates. Nine of those 10 states have already implemented rate increases for 2013. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington increased rates Jan. 1 to keep pace with cost-of-living increases under state laws that require such adjustments.
Industry associations contend that a hike of this size would damage the foodservice industry. Scott DeFife, the National Restaurant Association’s executive vice president for policy and government affairs, said the NRA was opposed to the measure.
“It’s the wrong bill at the wrong time,” he said. The legislation would have a major impact on the restaurant business, which is still struggling to rebound from the recession and is facing significant cost concerns as it works to implement health care reform.
In an email to Nation’s Restaurant News, International Franchise Association chief executive Steve Caldeira said raising the minimum wage would be another incremental cost restaurant franchisees would have to absorb, in addition to challenges like tax increases enacted in this January’s “fiscal cliff” deal, high energy and commodity prices, and ongoing difficulties in accessing growth capital.
“The president is ignoring the real problem, which is how to create more jobs in this country, and is choosing to play politics with an issue that will lead to fewer opportunities on the supply side in the form of employment,” Caldeira wrote.
In a “Minimum Wage Fact Sheet” distributed to its members, the National Restaurant Association stated that it “strongly believes a mandatory wage hike is not the way to help working Americans” and that “strong economic evidence suggests that increasing the minimum wage results in fewer jobs being created.”
According to the NRA, the average household income of restaurant employees earning the federal minimum wage is slightly more than $62,500. The NRA also noted that only 27 percent of minimum-wage earners in the restaurant industry are classified as the head of their household, and the vast majority of those employees are young and single and work part-time.
The association said a Wage Task Force, chaired by the immediate past chair of the NRA, Roz Mallet, had been preparing for a proposal such as President Obama’s and soon will convene a coalition of more than 80 trade associations across several industries to lobby against the raise in federal minimum wage rates.
Food cost remains one of the most costly components of restaurant management. Implement our list of the top ten basic tips on controlling food cost.
1) Price Menu Items Accordingly
It is essential to the success of your restaurant to have properly priced menu items. Prices that are too high dissuade customers, while prices that are too low cause you to lose out on precious profits. Pricing your menu reasonably makes your customers comfortable with paying and allows you to make a profit. MenuMax allows you to import your recipes, upload your order guide, and then links the ingredients in your recipes to the products you buy, and gives you plate costing down to the penny. This enables you to maximize your profits by analyzing your food costs and percentages with every menu change.
2) Portion Food Properly
Similarly to pricing appropriately, it is important to serve food in portions that will not over- or under-fill plates. Basic observance is key to analyzing whether you have properly portioned meals. When customers are finished eating, look at the plates as they come back to the kitchen. If there is a lot left on the plate, or you are consistently wrapping up take-home containers, you may be over-portioning your meals and thus increasing your food cost.
3) Keep Track of Your Inventory
Regular and thorough inventory counts will help you stay in control of your usage and the costs associated with it. This is especially important for high-cost items such as meat and liquor. MenuMax offers useful features that help you keep track of your inventory in a way that is unique, and customizable for your specific needs. You can modify locations to fit your specific business, organize products into categories/locations for easy inventory management and create detailed count sheets that let you count inventory the way you want to.
4) Handle Food Safely
In order to reduce potential waste, it is important to enforce first-in, first-out (FIFO) rotation for all perishable foods. Make sure you keep all foods at the recommended temperature and cook all foods correctly to avoid waste and prevent contamination.
5) Keep a Record of Food Waste
Sometimes, it is hard to keep track of your cost when waste has not been accurately recorded. Try using a waste chart to write down any food orders that are made incorrectly, thrown away or spilled. Failing to record this “usage” can skew inventory reports and throw off your food cost percentage.
6) Train Employees Right
When your employees care about food cost, they will be more apt to do everything they can to prevent waste, control portions and ensure food quality. Demonstrate how restaurant inventory represents potential profits, and how a reduction in food cost can provide an increase in profits (and essentially employee wages).
7) Rethink the Garnish
Think about all the dishes you serve with ‘garnish’. Now imagine the amount of those costly plate decorations that get thrown in the trash. Garnishes often consist of fancy fruits or layers of fresh lettuce that add visual appeal but are rarely eaten. Use less expensive food garnishes or remove them altogether to reduce food costs.
8 ) Build a Relationship with Your Suppliers
If you have been in the food service industry for a while, odds are you know the basic cost of your purchased food products. It is important to build a personal relationship with your suppliers in the event of any problems with food quality or any issues with food prices. Shopping around for the best price can also enable you to lower your food cost and can create competition among your suppliers for the best prices in exchange for your business.
9) Be Consistent
Consistency with food purchases comes with time but can help you anticipate expenses from week to week and keep your food costs steady and manageable.
10) Watch Profits and Losses
Lastly, it is important to keep a close watch on profits and losses. When you know what profits the restaurant is bringing in, in addition to the fixed expenses that affect the business, you are able to better evaluate your options and see where costs can be cut that are most beneficial to your individual situation.
For more information on the food cost and inventory management features of MenuMax visit MenuMax.com or email email@example.com for details.
Over the last few months MenuMax has experienced a surge in subscribers. This is mainly due to the increasing amount of food service operators who are trying to comply with the new Menu Labeling laws going into effect soon. MenuMax makes it simple to analyze the nutrition of your recipes, and when linked to your menus, provides you with complete menu nutrition. MenuMax utilizes a method called database nutrition analysis which is approved by the FDA. Pulling from over 27,000 ingredients derived from ESHAdata and USDA SR-24 nutritional information, MenuMax is the most complete product on the market today and will provide you with comprehensive nutrition analysis in an easy, user-friendly format. See a sample of our nutrition analysis below.
Through MenuMax you can conduct unlimited nutrition analysis on all recipes and create FDA approved nutrition labels in various formats and sizes, including labels for print and web sharing. In addition, all data is safely stored online and accessible from anywhere. Currently, the proposed FDA rules apply to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and selling the same menu items in their different locations. Calories would be required on menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards, in covered restaurants and similar retail food establishments and on signs next to foods on display. The nutrition labeling must be clear and prominently posted. MenuMax can calculate the nutritional information for your menu items and help make this transition simple and easy.
MenuMax is a fully automated Web-based recipe and menu management system designed to take the pain out of everyday operational tasks. With MenuMax you can organize unlimited recipes and menus by categories, link order guides for food costing and maximize your profits by analyzing your food costs and percentages with every menu change. You also have the ability to keep track of your inventory and better manage back-of-house operations.
For a limited time only, you can try MenuMax today with a 14-day free trial! Simply send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “Nutrition Made Easy” and include the email address you want to use as your login.
This offer is valid through the month of February and will expire at midnight on 2/28/2013. This is only valid for new customers. Participants will receive a free MenuMax account for 14 days from the date of signup. After 14 days, if you would like to keep your account you will need to contact us. You can access your MenuMax from any computer that has an Internet connection. We suggest using the latest versions of Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, or Chrome.
It’s that time of the year again! Flowers, chocolates, fine wine, and the opportunity to show your bottom line a little love. As one of the busiest days of the year for the foodservice industry, Valentine’s Day provides you with the opportunity to increase traffic and boost sales. While the holiday is traditionally for ‘couples’ a little creativity can make it fun for families and singles too.
Diane Chiasson, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consulting firm in Toronto, offers some less traditional promotions your restaurant can do for Valentine’s Day this year:
1. Attract the lunch crowd
Many couples may not want to shell out additional money for babysitting to go out for a romantic dinner on their own, so consider offering a romantic prix-fixe lunch special for parents to celebrate during the day, while the kids are at school.
2. Get the whole family in
Adults may not care to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but all children love a fun holiday. Consider offering a special family meal deal that includes some heart-shaped candies and chocolates, or fun gifts, and games and balloons for the kids, or set up a chocolate fountain.
3. Get naughty
Spice things up a bit. Instead of offering the traditional flowers and chocolates to your dinner guests, consider putting together a grab bag filled with adult toys or lingerie that each couple can select one item from before they leave. Make sure each item is gift-wrapped to ensure discretion.
4. Hold a ladies’ night
Valentine’s Day can be one of the most depressing nights for single ladies. Consider holding a Ladies’ Night at your bar or restaurant. Put together a fun menu featuring comfort foods, and lots of chocolate and sweets, create a special cocktail, and celebrate a woman’s independence and freedom.
5. Have an anti-Valentine’s Day
There are tons of people who absolutely hate Valentine’s Day, so to target this crowd, consider hosting an anti-Valentine’s Day event at your restaurant. Begin your promotion by running a contest on Facebook for the best “breakup” story. Put together a menu that features lots of garlic and other anti-aphrodisiac foods, and show classic heartbreak movies throughout the night. Encourage your guests to bring along photos of their exes, and find fun ways to destroy the photos. The possibilities are endless!
Article courtesy of: http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=42751#ixzz2KcI1hLa2
Restaurant managers, owners, and industry professionals are faced with major concerns as 2013 gets underway. According to a recent survey from NRN.com, approximately 40 percent of survey respondents chose health care as the “top business concern for 2013.” Health care concerns were followed closely by concern over consumer spending, at 31 percent; anticipated increases in commodity costs, at 20 percent; and tightened access to growth capital, at 8 percent.
Concerns about the 2013 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are primarily rooted in the worries of additional costs due to mandatory insurance coverage for full-time employees.
Many experimental techniques to deal with the upcoming increased costs has drawn consumer backlash, including Darden Restaurants Inc.’s (owner of restaurants such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster & Longhorn) test of limiting full-time workers in existing units in some markets.
Consumer spending also left poll respondents uneasy, with 31 percent expressing that as their biggest concern. Commodity cost pressures concerned 20 percent of poll respondents. An early December U.S. Drought Monitor report found more than 62 percent of the contiguous United States remained in some form of drought, affecting wheat and pasture conditions for cattle.
Access to growth capital was a trailing concern among those participating in the poll, with only 8 percent expressing that as a top issue. The National Restaurant Association’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast indicated that restaurant operators were finding some loosening of the purse strings.“Looking forward to 2013, operators in both the full-service and limited-service segments indicated that they plan to ramp up capital spending,” the NRA forecast said. About three out of 10 full-service operators said they planned to devote more resources to new equipment in the year ahead, similar to 31 percent of quick-service operators and 26 percent of fast-casual operators.
Remodeling and renovations were a higher priority for operators. About 46 percent of fine-dining operators said they plan to devote more resources to remodeling or renovation in 2013, according to the NRA Forecast. Four out of 10 casual-dining, quick-service and fast-casual operators also said they plan to spend more on remodeling or renovation in 2013.
What is your primary concern? Continue the conversation on our Facebook page and share your insight with food industry professionals like yourself. Let us help ease your concern with food cost, nutrition analysis, and simple recipe management we have the tools you need to face the challenges ahead.