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Foodservice Dynamics Adapt to Today’s Economy and Consumer Demands

Arthur Burkhart, VP Business Development MenuMax™

When an operator opens his doors each day he knows that a new world order is at play in the foodservice and hospitality industry. Patrons who typically purchased two bottles of wine at dinner now purchase only one. Once, their fare of choice was lobster, now they are seeking lower-priced alternatives. Restaurants that offered deep discounts to lure back recession-weary diners are now struggling to wean those customers off of the profit-sacrificing deals. Consumers have come to expect more for less, they want healthier meals and they expect continuity of quality.

It is important now more than ever for foodservice operators to be vigilant of their food-cost margins. They can no longer feel comfortable planning their seasonal menus and pricing once each quarter. The food marketplace is too volatile.  Menu offerings need to be scrutinized on a regular even daily basis. Operators often dreaded costing in manually calculated Excel spreadsheets. Today Web-based recipe- and menu-management systems simplify this arduous task by providing real-time tracking of costs and their impact on the menu. When once-arduous tasks become simple, the peace of mind is priceless. My travels have taken me to restaurants across the nation, and it surprises me to find chefs everywhere who say their recipes are kept in their heads. My next question to them is, “Are your food costs and nutritional profiles there too?”

Nutrition analysis and menu-labeling requirements present another thundercloud on the horizon for chains (in the immediate future) and independent operators (farther down the road). Municipal, state, and forthcoming federal calorie-labeling guidelines necessitate menu-item nutritional analysis. In addition, the media spotlight on menu-labeling laws is driving patrons to become more aware of healthy eating.  Consumers are demanding nutritional profiles for the items they order at foodservice establishments.  In this economy when check counts are so unpredictable, we always need to provide the patron with what they demand, thus ensuring return dining. I have spoken with chain operators on the West Coast who have spent as much as $75,000 a year to have their menus analyzed.  Others are paying high rates for nutritionists to review their menus and provide profiles.  Desktop software that provides nutritional analysis is cost-prohibitive and often very cumbersome to operate. Once again, the new world order of foodservice has borne innovative solutions to this modern challenge.  Online nutritional software is available for less than $1 a day, and will allow any operator with any skill level to create their own recipe nutritional profiles using the most expansive nutritional databases available, ESHAdata.  With a click of a mouse, operators can now manage their food costs, plan profitable menus and create nutrition labels or menu-nutrition reports that can be printed and presented to their patrons.

Yes, the landscape is changing.  The need to keep your customers happy is paramount to success, and the ability to provide menu offerings that are on-trend, within the patron’s budget, and nutritious is mandatory.  But the fortunate truth is this: Technology has risen to meet the foodservice operator’s needs. MenuMax provides an affordable, easy-to-use, Web-based solution that will ensure they meet their profit objectives and keep their patrons returning. The new dynamics of the foodservice industry just got easier to navigate!

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