Is Restaurant Reporting Key to Managing Costs?

There’s no such thing as a crystal ball when it comes to helping you run a restaurant. As much as we might want a glimpse into the future, restaurant operators have to run with the next best thing – forecasting and reports.

With the disruption that has swept across the restaurant industry in the last two years, many operators may feel overwhelmed as they work to bring food and labor costs under control, continue rolling out digital initiatives, and adapt to changing diner preferences. Fortunately, there is a way to pull together your tech stack and get clear, actionable information instead of relying on spreadsheets and gut instinct.

It’s time to make real restaurant reporting a priority. Move away from traditional reports, where you are getting unit-level information rolled up into regional reports, finally sent to corporate three or four weeks later. Instead, you need to move toward a single database for brand-wide information. With an integrated tech stack, you can see all the details you want in one place.

Good reporting helps you not only identify problems, such as employee mistakes, theft, or inaccuracies, but it can also highlight stores that are performing well, allowing you to share best practices across the organization. Having the right data in real time helps drive the growth you want for your brand.

So, what can reporting help you do? Better restaurant reporting is helping operators find ways to address some of the hottest issues they’re dealing with today.

Identify Employee Theft

Unfortunately, an estimated 75 percent of restaurant employees have stolen from their employer at least once. I have talked to brands who had no idea until implementing better reporting that certain ingredients were walking out the back door or that employees were creating fake pick up orders at the end of the night and taking them home, claiming the meals were never picked up.

It’s only when you’re able to spot those types of variances in inventory, voids, or other areas that you can begin to address and manage the problem.

Reduce Food Waste

At the end of the day, food waste has the same effect as theft. You’re still losing money on inventory. Fortunately, strong reporting can pinpoint waste issues from overportioning, over prepping food, or other problems. 

One client I spoke to told me that after getting inventory reporting, they found one location with $1,000 higher monthly food costs than other locations. They went to investigate, assuming it was theft, only to find out it was a training issue in that store. The employees were significantly overportioning proteins, driving up the food costs in that location. With a little retraining, they quickly brought costs down.

Optimize Labor Levels

Labor costs are always a concern for restaurateurs, but it poses an increased challenge right now as labor costs continue to rise. Fortunately, reporting is helping operators address these challenges, getting better use of the labor they have and helping maintain costs at a time they are spiking across the industry. Using sales forecasts to offer recommended staffing levels lets operators efficiently allocate their employees according to needs and manage profitability.

Additionally, corporate can monitor compliance with local labor laws, such as break times, regulations for minors, and mandating time between shifts. Your reporting should be giving you insights into your staffing on a real-time basis.

Improve Employee Retention

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that quit rates in the foodservice industry hit 6.8 percent, compared to an overall quit rate of 2.9 percent during the great labor shortage. Operators are working to meet the challenges of the great resignation by implementing new perks, increasing wages, and using a variety of other measures to retain employees. As wages rise, and employees seek new positions, retaining employees is more crucial (and costly) than ever before. 

With accurate reporting, you can avoid over or under-utilized employees, ensuring employees feel properly supported. You can also monitor retention levels and correlate them to various perks, helping you best understand what employees value when considering a job change.

Strong reporting can help solve many of the common headaches modern restaurant operators face. It’s no longer feasible to manage food and labor costs with traditional reporting methods. It is important to choose a system that will help you manage your restaurant operations by integrating data and providing it in an easy-to-understand format. Easy-to-read reports allow you to make data-informed decisions about every aspect of your restaurant. Additionally, reports will ease a variety of operational hiccups, allowing you to focus on the items that matter most to your restaurants. Choosing the right system will save significant hassle, time, and ultimately increase your bottom line.