What Can I Do to Reduce My Restaurant Supply and Labor Costs?

This edition of MRM's "Ask the Expert” features advice from Buyers Edge Platform. Please send questions to Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

These days, restaurants are on the search for solutions to minimize costs and provide efficiency throughout their operation. Why should you and your staff spend hours counting inventory, auditing invoices, and combing through contracts? Nobody has time for that when there is a crowded dining room, to-go orders flying out the window and customers complaining about their favorite menu items going up in price.  

At the end of the day, there are so many ways you can minimize your operational costs and make things easier for both you and your staff. The restaurant industry has been slow with change but has started to understand why it is necessary. And don’t even get me started on the purchasing data your restaurant is producing all day every day. Are you doing anything with that data? We’re going to park this one here until a little later in this article. 

When you’re short on time and resources, technology can help you automate on and off-premise processes, navigate increased costs, and make more informed business decisions. Embracing different innovations and moving away from traditional ways of operating can help you identify more areas of profitability and drive business success. 

Here are three ways you can reduce your restaurant supply and labor costs:

Use Technology to Streamline Operations

Whether you’re taking inventory, ordering supplies, or managing the supply chain – it all costs time and labor. There are many areas of your operation where you can implement technology solutions to make things quicker, easier, and best of all; cheaper. Take food cost management for instance. Are your food costs below 30 percent? If you can’t answer that question, you’re already vulnerable to tighter profit margins. 

The process of managing your food costs can be time consuming. It can take hours to manually figure out things like recipe costs, ingredient prices and inventory counts. With the right food cost management technology, you can automate and manage tasks such as recipe costing, accounting, and purchasing, all in real-time. 

Leverage Purchasing Data

Like Sherlock Holmes once said “Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay!”. The same thought should apply to your restaurant. “Data! Data! Data! I can’t run a successful restaurant without technology!”. There’s no way you’re maximizing profits and running off accurate forecasting without leveraging the data your restaurant generates with every purchase and partnership you make.  

The challenge your restaurant is faced with is what to do with the plethora of data you are creating. You can use this data to produce actional insights and get answers to your operation’s most pressing questions such as, “Am I making money off my menu items?” or, “Am I getting the best prices on the ingredients I am using?” Leveraging your data gives you the ability to analyze your operation’s purchase history and can be used to easily present disparities across different distributors or OPCOs. It can be valuable to determine if each distributor or OPCO is charging the price you contracted through a manufacturer.

Partner with Supply Chain Experts

With access to insights into operator purchase behavior, pricing trends, sales opportunities, and growth potential, partnering with technology and supply chain experts can make the process of data integration smoother and more transparent. Working with supply chain experts that provide industry leading technology can put your restaurant on the path to restaurant profitability, cost reduction, well-informed procurement, and automated integration. Leveraging industry knowledge and expertise allows you to take your business to the next level and make more informed operational decisions. 

Cutting unnecessary expenses should always be top-of-mind for you as you navigate the different challenges of running a business. The power of data, technology, and industry expertise can give your restaurant the boost it needs to reduce costs, maximize savings and increase profits without sacrificing the quality of your service – and your food.