Restaurants Looking for Ways to Cut Costs

Saving pennies, nickels and dimes turns into real dollars in a year.

Saving pennies, nickels and dimes turns into real dollars in a year.

Rising food costs continue to be a top concern for the restaurant industry, and that concern is spread across all types: family, casual, and fine dining establishments. That concern and the pressure rising food costs place on the bottom line has many restaurants looking for ways to cut costs.

According to the Wall Street Journal “Crafty Ways Restaurants Cut Costs,” a growing number of restaurateurs are using consultants to focus on efficiency including checking for unused half and half creamers, the cost of paper versus cloth napkins, and even checking the syrup level in fountain drinks. The goal, of course, is to make cuts without altering quality and without patrons noticing a difference.

Efficiency Gurus

The Department of Labor reports that there are over 650,000 efficiency gurus working in industries across the country, and more and more of these consultants are focusing on the food service industry, like National Restaurant Consultants that will guarantee results in writing.

These consultants review and put a price on every move in a kitchen. For example, making ranch dressing every three days rather than daily can save 15 minutes of prep time. That may not seem like a lot, but it turns into saving about 30 hours annually. Again, on the surface, it may seem like a drop in the bucket, but every drop in a highly competitive and margin-tight industry counts. The tiny cuts that go unnoticed add up. For example, altering one chain’s marinara sauce by removing olive oil generated a savings of $17,000 a year.

Beyond Restaurant Cost Cutting

There’s more to improving your restaurant’s bottom line than only focusing on cost cutting… and that’s promotion. Consultants recommend engineering your menu to promote your highest margin items. As with real estate, location is critical. Your highest margin offerings should be placed prominently on your menu and promoted. The top right corner tends to be where patrons’ eyes fall with the left center not getting as much notice.

More ideas for improving your bottom line, according to Restaurant Business:

  • If you don’t have a high-appeal, low-cost signature item for your restaurant, create one
  • Sell value and combo meals rather than offering coupons or discounts
  • Expand your offering to include catering, take-out breakfast or late-night dining
  • Buy more… as in buy in bulk
  • Buy seasonally and locally
  • Don’t cut your core menu or brand; make innovations outside of it
  • Use alternate cuts of beef like hangar and flatiron steaks
  • Use exact weights and measures to ensure portion control

Finally, perhaps investing in a consultant as a fresh set of eyes on your operation makes sense. There are plenty of stories of manufacturers that benefitted from hiring efficiency experts. If your restaurant is looking for ways to cut costs, spending might be the best way to boost your bottom line.