September 2005 Edition
Use your Hidden Assets to Lower Food Costs

Use Your 'Hidden Assets' to Lower Food Cost

The hidden assets we are referring to are your dishwashers, table bussers and front line staff.  These Hidden Assets can often help you identify opportunities and improve your operation’s overall profitability.  This article presents two easy ways of leveraging your Hidden Assets to find solutions to common foodservice challenges.

 the  challenge:   plate  waste 

Uneaten food is expensive. Typically plate cost is included in the pricing and cost of a meal. It may include a salad, bread or rolls, butter, and a selection of side dishes. When these items are left on the table they represent a food cost that has benefited neither the operator nor the customer! These extras can add up:

                                        A discarded bread roll = $0.18
                                A couple of butter pats = $0.10
A couple of ounces of extra salad dressing = $0.13
An uneaten (unpopular?) vegetable= $0.40
                                                        Total = $0.81

A restaurant that averages 200 meals, 300 days a year can be losing $25,000 - $50,000 worth of these 'inexpensive' plate cost items.

THE SOLUTION:  Gather Intelligence from Your “Hidden Assets”

Spend some time in the dining room at every meal and have regular meetings with your 'Hidden Assets'. Reward them for feedback. Your wait staff and bussers will be able to quickly identify unpopular sides and garnishes by the number of leftovers they see.  Use their input to establish appropriate portion sizes for plate costs such as l-1/2 rolls per person (a table of four would get six in the basket) or 2 pats of butter per person etc. Avoid the basketful or plateful approach. Side dishes that are regularly left uneaten should be retired, which opens up your menu for new products and recipes. 

the  CHALLENGE:   Known  or  Unknown  guest  satisfaction

It has been said that for every complaint received, there are 10 other dissatisfied guests. Some of them will NEVER return.

THE SOLUTION:  Solicit Feedback

If it is a food complaint you can bet that it will show up as plate waste. Quick feedback from your “Hidden Assets” once again dish room can result in a quick fix with minimal guest relationship damage!  Train your wait staff to solicit feedback from each and every guest as to the level of enjoyment they derived from their meal.  This front line approach allows for reaction time between courses   Well trained front line staff  can alert management that a table needs attention NOW. This could be a great opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. A genuine apology, comp'ed meal or dessert can go a long way toward turning a disgruntled customer into a 'regular'.

It's time to put your “Hidden Assets' to work!

Submitted by:arry Tepper & FrankKalmar. Tepper Kalmar Associates Emcryvilk, CA