Running a restaurant can be a rewarding and demanding career. To have a successful restaurant, the owner or manager must be skilled at managing both front-of-house and back-of-house functions. That means juggling everything from hiring and managing staff; deciding on your menu and any day-to-day changes; ordering food, beverages, dishes and other kitchen and dining room essentials; to handling to-go and pick-up orders, among other tasks. With all these responsibilities, it can be a struggle to maintain profitability.
If your restaurant is facing lower profit margins, you’re not alone. Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants across the board are facing a drop in profits. In fact, 86 percent of restaurants identified lower profit margins as one of the primary challenges they dealt with in 2020, while more than half identified high operation costs as a primary challenge.
To help increase these profit margins, restaurant owners sometimes focus more on changes they can make to front-of-house, such as increasing their prices or boosting liquor sales. However, savvy restaurant owners should realize that a well-run kitchen can help lower operating costs and boost profitability. Rising food and labor costs can make this a bigger challenge, but fortunately there are many ways you can save money in your commercial kitchen.
Start with becoming more mindful of your energy costs. For example, soaking dishes in warm water before they are run through a dishwasher can help loosen food — instead of rinsing them with hot water. Running your dishwasher only when it is full can also save on water and utility costs. Additionally, arranging the food in your walk-in so that air can circulate and cleaning your refrigerator’s condenser and evaporator coils could also help reduce energy costs.
Because food costs are a major contributor to your overhead, take a closer look at the portions that your restaurant serves. Too-large portions contribute to food waste and cut into your profit margins. Create standard portions for each dish, and consider using smaller plates and bowls to make the portions look larger and more appealing to diners.
Food deliveries can take up a significant amount of time for your kitchen staff. To help cut expenses, consider working with fewer suppliers and cutting back on the number of times you accept deliveries. While you may buy a lot of fresh food, purchasing shelf-stable or frozen foods could also help lower food costs.
You might also consider cross-training some of your front-of-house staff to handle some kitchen duties during slow seasons. Investing in more efficient kitchen equipment such as refrigerators, cooktops and deep fryers can also help you save money over the long run.
For more information on how to boost your profit margins, check out the accompanying resource.