family-eating-at-restaurant12 Smart Ways to Save More Money in Your Restaurant Today


Teach everyone on your team Profitability 101. The first few pages in your training manuals, and the first topic covered live in your new employee Orientation or videos should be “Restaurant Economics 101”, even before “Guest Service”. Why would a server or cook understand the importance of suggestive selling or following recipes without first understanding the basics of gross versus net in our business? They first need CONTEXT to make their behavior coincide with your training objectives. Show them how expenses relates to revenue, explain how higher costs makes it harder to invest money in people and training. What’s the point of teaching service skills, selling skills or cost control if there’s no perspective to the Big Picture?

Smash the Trash. A lot of potential profit can be earned—or lost—out dockside, by the back door. Her key learning? “One of my favorite distributors taught me three profitable words: ‘smash the trash’.”

Teach employees how to manage their personal finances. If they’re frugal at home, they’ll be more frugal at work. Offer this seminar semi-annually and invite spouses, too.

Show them the money. Most of your team members think that restaurant owners are making a fortune. Post your monthly invoices for electricity, water, heat, gas, food, beverage, insurance, and rent on bulletin boards so employees can review the so-called “invisible” costs of doing business and compare it to their own expenses at home.

Sell and market “waste watching” to your team with posters in your work areas, prep areas and break areas. Take digital photos of the commonly tossed, damaged or over-portioned items with their cost per unit displayed in large type, like the cost of glassware, sugar packets, napkins, silver ware, ketchup packets, or an extra ounce of meat on a sandwich or alcohol in a drink, etc. See our best-selling posters “What You Get Paid For” and “Think We’re Making a Fortune? Think Again!” in the store.

Raffles. Every month post each employee’s name on a sheet of paper. Choose the raffle goals based on the behavior you want to reinforce for the next 30 days: attendance, promptness, sales, working safely, cost control. For instance, if it’s a cost control raffle in a restaurant: any time someone breaks a plate or glass, cross their names off the list. Whoever is left has their name entered into a raffle for a prize drawing.

Keep knives and blades sharp. Believe it or not a sharp knife actually minimizes the likelihood of cut fingers. Plus your team works more productively and it usually results in less waste and therefore better yield.

Follow your recipes. A driving force behind high food costs in the kitchen or behind the bar result from cooks or bartenders that choose to follow their own recipes or measure “by eye” instead of using the prescribed spoons, cups, scales or jiggers.

Offer a Free Pre-Shift meal for every employee. Employee theft of food or beverage is a considerable cost and risk. Two suggestions: 1) offer a free (or low-priced) meal every shift and encourage employees to bring in their own plastic cup with their initials on it to minimize the cost associated with refilling and washing dozens of glasses each shift.

Volume hides a multitude of sins. Just because your restaurant is busy all the time doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t find ways to minimize costs and maximize efficiencies during those peak periods.

Sell more of what you have. The fact is that a restaurant doesn’t make money buying; it makes money selling. So focusing your customer-facing employees on skills related to menu merchandising and soft-selling may be your best cost-cutting strategy of all. Selling doesn’t cost, it pays.

Clean up your act. A guest or employee getting sick as a result of food borne illness is the number one threat to your bottom line. Here’s a sensible strategy that will help you eliminate potentially catastrophic costs before they occur: don’t get any sick as a result of unsafe food handling or storage. Quick, what’s the leading cause of foodborne illness? According to the International Safety Council the Top 5 contributing factors to foodborne illness in foodservice are:

Improper holding temperature (59%),

Poor personal hygiene (35%),

Inadequate cooking (28%),

Contaminated equipment (18%),

Unsafe food source (11%)

Food safety training is mandatory, not optional. Sounds like cleaning and training will help beat the odds.