National Food Safety Month
Tips for Keeping Tabs on Food Costs by Plate IQ:
Any seasoned restaurateur knows that cost management is crucial to the bottom line. With restaurants dedicating about a third of their spend to food, keeping a close eye can make a big difference to your margins. Here are four tips to turn the variability of food costs from a liability to an advantage:
- Close the books quickly. If you sit on invoices for a week and then have to wait for someone to crunch the numbers, it can easily be 10 days or more before you realize that something’s wrong. Getting that information in a more timely fashion can mean the difference between addressing a problem as it arises and just wishing you’d been able to take action. Speed up the time between receiving a shipment and understanding its impact on your bottom to take immediate corrective action rather than having to wait for the financials to get finished.
- Go beyond your GLs. Tracking spend at the general ledger level is convenient for keeping the books balanced, but doesn’t provide the level of detail you need for on-the-fly adjustments when an item skyrockets. Seeing those fluctuations is difficult when looking at GLs—after all, if you’re spending $200 a week on produce, a $50 increase in that category isn’t very noticeable, even though it puts you $200 in the hole by the end of the month. Plus, if you don’t have easy access to line item data, it’s tricky to trace last month’s surge in spend to a specific culprit (we’re looking at you, avocados) rather than chalking it up to “food” or “produce.”
- Look for variance across stores. It’s no surprise that different vendors charge different prices for the same items. But it can be a shock to realize that a single vendor may charge different stores different prices for the same item. That means your Main Street location could be paying $20 a case for watermelon while your Second Street store is charged nearly twice as much. If you haven’t looked into how much each of your stores is being charged for items they have in common, now’s the time. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that everything’s equal. If not, you can use the results as leverage when re-negotiating your contract with that vendor…or a new one.
- Regularly review your recipes. You probably costed out every dish to the last ounce back when it was new on the menu. And your POS system probably helps you keep a close eye on each menu item’s sales. But how long has it been since you looked at what those old plowhorses are costing you? As prices change, so do your food costs, impacting your profit on every plate. Revisiting the numbers based on current data can help you optimize every plate that hits your pass-through.
If it all sounds daunting, don’t despair. Plate IQ is here to help. We transform restaurant operations by streamlining the accounts payable process from invoice to payments. The process starts with digitizing your paper invoices, virtually eliminating manual data entry and giving you access to spend analysis across items and locations. That data powers your Hot List, a report that alerts you to price changes on your purchases. Finally, our Recipes module updates your food costs for every dish based on your most recent invoices.
Don’t be blindsided by cost creep, take control with a platform that takes care of the data work for you. Learn more about Plate IQ here.
Source: Plate IQ
According to the Center for Disease Control, roughly one in six Americans gets sick from a foodborne illness annually. Just like you promote your latest and greatest menu items to your customers, take time to share how much your restaurant focuses on serving food safely. To successfully execute food safety measures and develop a culture of food safety in your restaurant, your entire team must diligently participate. One mistake, such as using a contaminated utensil to handle ready-to-eat food, can lead to foodborne illness and a tarnished business reputation.
Tips for Food Safety:
Maintain a clean and sanitary restaurant kitchen To reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses, maintaining a clean and sanitary restaurant kitchen is imperative. Cleaning removes food and other dirt from surfaces, which can help sanitizers work more effectively. Sanitizing reduces surface pathogens to safe levels. When training your restaurant team members, ensure that you provide relevant instructions pertaining to the following:
- Work surfaces. Show your team how to clean and sanitize surfaces and specify how frequently to do so. Make your preferred cleaning and sanitizing products readily available for staff to grab and use when needed.
- Specialty equipment. Demonstrate how to properly use any specialty equipment, such as meat slicers and food processors. Show staff how to clean and sanitize these tools, which are also considered food-contact surfaces. If items are in constant use, clean and sanitize every four hours.
- Color-coded equipment. Many restaurant operators choose to color-code select kitchen equipment, such as cutting boards and utensils, to reduce cross-contamination possibilities. Green typically is used for fruits and vegetables; red for red meat; yellow for poultry; and blue for fish. For your staff’s awareness, break down what colors match up with specific food categories in your restaurant, and explain the importance of keeping these items separate when cleaning and sanitizing.
- Attire and protective gear. Food handlers’ attire should remain clean at all times. If an article of clothing gets dirty, it should be replaced with a clean garment. Upon leaving food prep areas, staff should remove their aprons and single-use gloves. Stock multiple glove sizes and outline occasions that merit putting on a new pair of single-use gloves, such as handling ready-to-eat food.
- Working with health inspectors. Restaurant operators and health inspectors aren’t adversaries. Think of a health inspector as a partner you work with to achieve shared goals of preventing foodborne illness and protecting guests’ health. Click here for 7 tips for building productive relationships with health inspectors.
Source: National Restaurant Association
IMPORTANT EMPLOYMENT REMINDERS
- New York Paid Family Leave Act (NYPFLA) starts January 1, 2018 and phases in over the next 4 years. The act requires all employers to provide all full-time employees who have worked for 26+ consecutive weeks and part-time employees who have worked 175+ days with benefits that provide the employee a percentage of their average weekly wage while on leave to bond with their child(ren) under the age of 1 or care for family members with a serious health condition. Paid Family Leave will be fully funded by employees. Click here for more information.
- Minimum wage is set to increase on December 31, 2017. Employers must give all employee’s one week’s notice for wage rate change, click here for a Sample Pay Notice and for more information about the minimum wage changes.