Are Rising Food Costs Killing Your Restaurant’s Profits?

Are rising food costs decreasing your restaurant’s profits?  You better act now!  We anticipate the cost of food, especially the staples, to continue to rise.  Food and Beverage Departments for hotels are typically low profit areas and can easily turn into no profit areas if you do not react quickly.  Here are some things that you can do: 

Know Your Food Costs – It is surprising how little hotels actually know about their food costs.  Most hotels have a breakfast buffet, however, few hotels have any idea what their food cost is on the buffet.  Most just assume they are making a high profit because they were taught that buffets were always high profit.  Not true.  Spend the time to calculate your buffet cost.  You may be surprised to find out that your buffet food cost is 40 or 50 percent!

Here is a simple way to find out the food cost for your buffet:  Have the kitchen log every single item that is used on the buffet during a 7 day period (10 cases of bacon, 22 cases of eggs, etc).  At the end of the week, add up the total food expense and divide it by the amount of revenue you posted for those days.  Be sure to do it for a whole week because you will find that your weekend food cost is very different than your weekday food cost.  Also, be sure to add in all items included with the buffet such as juice and coffee.

Re-engineer Your Menu – Hopefully, you are using a spreadsheet or computer program to monitor your menu engineering.  Be sure to re-evaluate your menu every single month.  For additional menu engineering help, check out this article.

Evaluate your menu prices – Now that you know your food cost and your menu engineering, be sure to evaluate your menu prices.  You will most likely have to raise prices.  However, don’t just raise all of the prices across the board, be very strategic.  Raise only the prices of the items that are the best sellers but do not have the best profit.  Keep the prices the same on the items that do not sell well but have a high profit.  Replace the items that do not sell well and do not have a high profit.

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Restaurant Menu Engineering

menuTake a break from working on your budget to catch up on a new law that will have a huge impact on your gross operating profit . As you may have already read, on September 12th, 2006 Governor Schwarzenegger approved a bill to increase the minimum wage. The bill calls for two raises to the minimum wage over the next year and a half as follows:

-On January 1, 2007, the minimum wage for California will increase from $6.75 per hour to $7.50 per hour.

-On January 1, 2008, the minimum wage for California will increase an additional 50 cents to $8.00 per hour.

To read the bill, click on the following link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/IWC/iwc.html

The biggest area the new law will impact is in the hotel’s food and beverage departments. Most restaurants only make a profit of about 10 percent. With server and bartender labor to increase 11 percent to $7.50, it could easily squeeze out the entire profit. Hotels with high benefits (especially high workers comp rates) will be hit the hardest. Now is the time to examine your menus and consider any price increases. There is a great article on menu engineering available at http://www.restaurantowner.com/public/330.cfm . There is also a menu engineering worksheet available for download to help you out. It is also a great time to examine your labor productivity. Make sure that you have a productivity number for each position and those numbers are used to forecast, schedule and report each week.

The earlier that you can prepare for the increase, the easier it will be to absorb the expense. It is critical to examine what positions that it will affect and have a plan for them. Typically any position under $10.00 per hour will be affected by this minimum wage increase. You may want to consider raising the wages on those positions immediately rather than waiting until January 1st. As the word about the minimum wage increase gets around, employees will start looking around to see what other hotels are paying. The hotels who wait until January 1st could risk losing some good employees to their competitors. Also, a large increase before the government requires could be a great boost for moral, especially in December when hotels are slow and work is scarce.

Link provided with permission from RestaurantOwner.com. For more information, visit http://www.restaurantowner.com/.