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5 Things that are Killing Your Food Costs [List]

Maximize Your Profits and Mitigate Your Food Costs

Food costs are commonly viewed as a restaurant’s worst enemy, but there are simple ways to flip that narrative. The higher your food costs, the lower your profit. Watch for these five pitfalls to make food costs work for you—not against you—and avoid the items killing your food costs:

1. Untracked Food Prices

Food prices often change at the blink of an eye.

Ensure your profit margins track as planned, by knowing what your food prices should be and watching them closely for changes. Always ask your vendors if a staple item’s price has changed. And if it has, make adjustments to your menu to offset that price increase. For example, if the price of avocados surges suddenly, take them off your menu and make them available by request only until the price goes back down.

You can also adjust your menu presentation to build in a buffer for ingredient flexibility. By keeping menu listings high-level (showing only the main features of a dish) instead of listing all the ingredients in each one, you’ll be able to sub out default ingredients when needed.

2. Extreme Perishables

Be wary of over-ordering foods that are extremely perishable and require immediate use. This includes items like shellfish and fresh fish.

One way to avoid wasted perishables and still benefit from large-quantity price breaks is to plan to freeze a majority of your purchase. Buy these items pre-portioned in freezer-safe, sealed-air packaging to maximize each item’s shelf life.

3. Unoptimized Point of Sale Menu

Program your point of sale (POS) to account for tailored orders and customer preferences. A well-programmed menu decreases order ambiguity, and ultimately, lessens your food costs.

For example, if you ring in a hamburger without a meat temperature specified on the ticket, you run the risk of the kitchen either overcooking or undercooking the item. This creates the possibility that the item will get sent back by the customer (and wasted), resulting in a completely avoidable expense. To rectify this problem, attach a forced “Meat Temperature” modifier to the product within your POS. With the modifier in place, servers and cashiers will be automatically prompted to select the temperature. Kitchen staff will see the customer’s temperature preference on the ticket when making the item, ensuring the customer receives exactly what they ordered.

Another way to program your POS for maximum back-of-house efficiency—and resulting decreased food waste—is to attach menu items to station-specific printers. This way, a salad ticket doesn’t print out at the grill station, risking the order getting lost or your grill man wasting time trying to get the ticket to the right station.

By taking a few minutes to optimize the menu on your POS, you’ll see major pay-offs for your bottom line. Make sure all your menu items have the correct modifiers attached to them. Organize menu items in an-easily sortable way that makes sense. Align menu items clearly with their respective buttons within in the POS.

4. Improper PARs Set

PAR stands for Periodic Automatic Replenishment and serves as a cushion for your inventory management. By setting proper PAR levels, you’ll never run out of an item (even with spikes in demand or delays in delivery). You also won’t be stuck with inventory you can’t sell.

Setting the correct PARs is an art—too much of any item is bad. Conversely, buying small quantities of something every time you order can become costly very quickly. Revel lets you set your PAR per item and then will automatically reorder items for you when your inventory levels fall below the threshold. This will not only save you money, but time (and sanity) as well.

5. Inaccurate Inventory

This might seem like a no-brainer, but miscounted inventory can gravely affect your food costs.

Your food costs are derived directly from your inventory numbers. If your inventory is just a fraction off, that could equate to thousands and thousands of dollars lost.

Focus on inventory. Make it a priority. And let Revel’s inventory management do the heavy lifting. Revel’s POS allows you to calculate your inventory down to the ingredient-level and automatically manage items by dining-type, like to-go containers.

Check out the Revel Help Site for more information on how to maximize your point of sale.

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