A bustling, profitable restaurant is an exciting scene. Closing out full cash registers at the end of the night is a sign of success. But how much cash is left on the table from uncontrolled costs and lost sales? Even the most lucrative restaurant may be missing out, especially if staff errors accumulate. Many small losses can really add up, so equipping staff to control costs and increase sales is critical to ongoing success.
An overcooked steak or chicken breast happens. But unchecked carelessness costs more than just the price of ingredients. That burned tray of meat isn’t just a loss of a couple dollars per piece. It’s the loss of entire entrees, and the sales they would have generated.
How do your employees treat their workplace? Do they use kitchen equipment as if it were their own? Or is there a culture of carelessness because it’s company-owned? Misused appliances, electronics, and even kitchen or bath plumbing can generate massive repair or replacement bills.
Broken plates and glasses, discarded flatware, cloth napkins used for other purposes—all add up to replacement costs (and possibly labor time for cleanup of mishaps) for unnecessary losses.
Kitchen mistakes, unnecessary “extra” portions, employee snacking, and overpours or “free” drinks at the bar are some of the ways ingredients can be wasted, which translates to losses both in food costs but also potentially in sellable items.
Are employees more concerned about turning over tables or finishing a shift than they are about selling to customers? Effective upsells, including drinks, desserts, or a more profitable entrée, help both the restaurant and the staff. But rushing patrons out of the store or discouraging them from capping off their meal with another course is a missed opportunity for increased sales.
Equipping Your Staff
As the restaurant owner or manager, it’s your job to train and equip staff not just to complete the tasks of the job but to be a representative of your business and advance their own opportunities as well. It’s critical to dispel the myth that the restaurant is sitting on endless piles of cash, and help them understand the relatively slim profit margins of the restaurant industry—and that there are numerous ways to lose money in the process.
The average profit margin for restaurants is 3-5%. Using 5% as an example, educate your staff that if the restaurant makes 5¢ per dollar, the profit on a $10 entrée is only 50¢. If you break a plate, lose a fork, grab a handful of nachos, and are a little too generous with the salad dressing, how many entrees will you need to sell to make up for that loss? The more actual numbers you can equip your staff with, the more effective the message will be. Chances are, most of your staff isn’t maliciously trying to lose you money. Education and training can go a long way to help your staff—and your restaurant—succeed.
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