How do I Save Money at my Restaurant?

Easy ways to save money at your restaurant.

Easy way to save money
There are many small steps that can save a restaurant money. TBIT via Pixabay

 The Question: 

My restaurant is five years old. We’ve never made a lot of money, but have always gotten by. Lately though, with the rising prices of food, fuel and everything else, plus the recession, it has been really hard to pay our bills on time and pay our staff every week. I don’t want to close the restaurant. I’ve thought about cutting back our hours, but am not sure it's a good idea. Is there a way we can save money without laying off staff or cutting hours?

My Answer: 

The good news, you are recognizing problems before they get out of control. There are many ways to save money at your restaurant that you can start doing right away. Adjusting menu prices is something that should be done at least once a year. Keeping track of your food cost will ensure you making the best profit possible. Revaluating your menu is also a good way to see what items are good sellers and which are not doing well. Add lower food cost items, think pork, chicken and potatoes, and moving away from higher end items like fresh seafood or prime cuts of beef can help maximize profits. Take advantage of the current food trend right now is affordable gourmet.

Keep an Eye on Payroll

Watching your payroll is another area to carefully monitor (a good rule any time, not just in a recession). It’s a fine line of enough staffing also may mean you, as the owner, work extra (I’m guessing you are probably already doing this).

Monitoring waste in the kitchen is another step to take that can save your restaurant money. Repurposing leftovers, like pulled pork sandwiches or pork soup made from leftover pork tenderloin. Making sure the kitchen staff is utilizing FIFO (first in, first out) will help reduce food spoilage and waste.

Check out this article about how to reduce food spoilage in your restaurant kitchen from more ideas.

Small Changes

Another way to save money at your restaurant is by making small changes to your restaurant building, like switching to energy efficient light bulbs, low flow faucets and keeping the heat at 68 degrees versus 72 degrees are all easy, inexpensive ways to shave the cost of utilities. Taking advantage of freebies and other free services can also garner significant savings for your restaurant. Many of the freebies offered to most restaurants come from alcohol distributors, as a way to promote their products. Other freebies are included when you ordered a certain product, like coffee or soda, from a distributor. Of course, not every restaurant design, concept or décor will fit all the freebies listed below, but you can pick and choose what you want to use from your distributor. Check out these 10 Things Restaurants Should Never Pay For.

If you are cutting back as much as you can without sacrificing customer service and are still short at the end of the month, talk to your bank, your landlord, and/or food distributor about prorating payments, such as a higher mortgage payment in the busy season and a smaller one in the winter.

The key is to communicate with your creditors, not avoid them until you can pay them in full. Remember, your success is also in their best interest, as well.