Eight extra checks to cut food and wage costs, and boost sales


Checking, checking, checking - it never stops! You’re always watching sales and wages, and the cost of purchases.

And there are usually more checks that can uncover weaknesses - here's a list of items that will help pick up areas that aren’t performing. But first a request - stop doing all the checking yourself! That’s why it hasn’t been done consistently – you’re busy! Organise a supervisor or cook to help gather the information you need, then act. For many staff, these extra checking tasks would be an honour, but for you they’re a burden. Find someone who’s good with numbers and is a ‘details’ person – they like to be accurate. Make sure to give them a simple maths test before you hand them the responsibility.

Menu Weaklings – check the POS to see what items are selling poorly. Remove at least two of them, and don’t replace – many menus are too long anyway.

Menu Heroes – while you’re checking, find the top selling items. Could they have a small price increase? If they’re not the most expensive items, the price change is often lost in the list, but can mean a difference of a few hundred dollars each week.

Cost of Protein Items – beef, chicken, fish, cheese, dairy, eggs. With your recipe costing, see how price changes may have affected the profit margin. Any changes needed? Sometimes these items are sold too cheaply. Digital Pricing Scales (like they use in a deli) are inexpensive and help you do this quickly and accurately.

Slow Moving Stock – storing too much wine or food is like having piles of cash on your shelves. It’s related to #1 – regular stocktake of key items (eg the most valuable 20 food items) can help to highlight this. And you are stocktaking the liquor every week, aren’t you? It’s a favourite ‘help yourself’ item for dishonest staff, if they know that checking is not done thoroughly.

Late Arriving Staff – modern sign-on systems let you see who is late shift by shift. Who needs to have a quiet chat with their manager? Other staff notice and resent carrying these people, and also notice if you do nothing.

Shifts With the Highest Wage Cost % - there may be a good reason, or not. When you zoom in with the magnifying glass, some shifts have lower sales with the same wages. Or lots of variability – look closely – it’s often to do with who’s on the shift and their ability.

Sales and Strike-Rate of ‘Extras’ – out of 100 customers in the restaurant, how many order side-items eg salad, breads, mineral water? That’s the ‘strike rate’ - it varies with your style, but almost every place has optional extras that depend on good menu wording or staff suggestions. Do staff need coaching, or the menu rewriting?

Social Media & Email Activity – it’s about more interaction with customers. How many new Facebook fans and email sign-ups last month? It’s not an arms race, but if numbers are flat, that may relate to your marketing activity and enthusiasm. People keep forgetting you, hence the regular reminders!