Archive for the ‘food service’ Category

Running a Profitable Food Service by the Numbers

Monday, January 18th, 2016

Most hospitality managers would agree that food service is the most challenging part of their operations, but recognizing that knowledge is power, there are a number of management disciplines that will enhance any operation’s bottom line.

  1. Benchmarking revenues, cover counts, and average check by day of week and meal period.  This will help you schedule staff more efficiently, monitor sales trends, and allow you to track the success of new menus and efforts to upsell.
  2. Benchmarking payroll cost, hours worked, and average hourly wage by pay period.  This essential discipline will allow you to stay within budget, monitor overtime, and control your most significant expense.
  3. Formal forecasting by using historical cover benchmarks and knowledge of upcoming events, external factors, and optimum staffing levels, you can ensure expected service levels in the most cost-effective way.
  4. Timely and accurate inventories and benchmarking of inventories.  This will ensure budgeted cost of goods sold and identify any adverse anomalies or trends for investigation.  A further discipline that will yield significant benefits is to identify and inventory high value items weekly.
  5. Sales mix analysis.  This discipline will help you understand your customers’ dining preferences while protecting profit margins.
  6. Basic dining policies.  Well-thought out and advertised dining policies will give all customers/guests/members an equal opportunity to enjoy the dining services while ensuring the highest service levels for all customers.
  7. Consistent pre-shift meetings with a purpose and continual On the Go Training.  There is no better way to prepare and train your staff for service.
  8. Product knowledge and upselling training for servers.  They can’t sell what they don’t know and servers well-trained in upselling techniques will increase your operation’s average check while enhancing your customers’ dining experiences.
  9. Upselling feedback.  If servers are provided daily sales goals and feedback on their efforts to upsell, they will be far more engaged, enthusiastic, and effective in increasing their average checks.  You just need to provide the numbers to them on a daily basis.
  10. Tools to Beat Budget.  This powerful discipline of tracking revenues and expenses in real time will ensure your bottom line, make you more knowledgeable about your operation, and make preparing future budgets a breeze.

Food service managers must make these disciplines part of their daily and weekly routines.  Once these disciplines are instituted and mastered, a number of them can be delegated to properly-trained and motivated subordinates.  When consistently applied, these basic and commonsense disciplines will ensure both profitability and customer service.  What more could you want for your operation?

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

The Pre-Shift Meeting

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Some ask the question, “Is a pre-shift meeting really necessary?”  Compare a pre-shift meeting with the habits of professional athletes, whose jobs require peak performance, both individually and as a team, in an environment where “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!”  Without fail, these athletes huddle for a few moments before every game to remind themselves of their commitment to each other and their mission to win.  In the service business the game is every day, every shift, and the need for success is just as important.  So yes, a pre-shift meeting is an absolute necessity for every department, but particularly in the food and beverage operation.

Here are some of the things that should be covered in a food and beverage pre-shift meeting:

  • Proper Dress and Grooming.  Is everyone in proper dress or uniform?  Do they have the right footwear and their nametags?  Does everyone meet the organization’s grooming standards?  These basic standards are critical to a professional operation.  What gets checked gets done!
  • Reservations.  Who’s coming in for dinner tonight?  Do we know their likes, dislikes, and preferences?  Have they made any special requests?  Is it a celebratory occasion?  For private club employees, double check the member database and see the meal could be for a birthday or anniversary?
  • Special Parties.  Are there special parties scheduled for tonight in the dining room?  Have they made any special requests?  Do they have a limited or set menu?
  • Daily Specials.  What are tonight’s specials?  Go over the Menu Item Selling Sheets, HRI Form 484, for those items.  Will the chef do a tasting and explain items and recipes?  Cover any wine pairings with specials.  Are there special appetizers, desserts, specialty drinks, wines by the glass, wines by the bottle?  Review pricing for these, which POS key to ring them on, and discuss suggestions for how to upsell.
  • Review Pronunciation of any unfamiliar or foreign food terms or product names.
  • Upcoming Events.  Review details of events such as Sunday Brunch, Fine Dining Nights, Wine Tastings, Luau at the pool, etc., so that servers can provide information and promote to diners if asked.
  • Review Daily Sales Targets so everyone knows if the operation’s on track to meet budget.  Review any ongoing contests or sales incentives.
  • Kudos, Recognition, and Complaints.  Review any positive feedback to celebrate success and extraordinary service by individual servers.  Cover any complaints received with lessons learned or to brainstorm solutions.
  • Membership Familiarization for Private Clubs.  Short, ongoing review of members, their preferences, special occasions.  Show pictures, if available.  If member data is reviewed incrementally each day, over time servers will have a greater familiarity with the full membership.  In particular, cover information on new members.
  • Basic Service Focus.  Cover any particular items servers should focus on such as getting member numbers on charge slips, quick pick up of hot items from the line, not overstacking the dishwash station, etc.  By focusing on one basic item each day, servers are continually reminded of the basics of our business.
  • Questions, Comments, Feedback.  Servers should always be made to feel comfortable in asking questions, making suggestions, and providing feedback from their serving experiences.

The pre-shift meeting is an essential discipline in meeting standards, ongoing training of staff, and reviewing dining options.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go, Hospitality Resources International

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

Running a Profitable Food Service by the Numbers

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Most hospitality managers would agree that food service is the most challenging part of their operations, but recognizing that knowledge is power, there are a number of management disciplines that will enhance any operation’s bottom line.

1.   Benchmarking revenues, cover counts, and average check by day of week and meal period.  This will help you schedule staff more efficiently, monitor sales trends, and allow you to track the success of new menus and efforts to upsell.

2.   Benchmarking payroll cost, hours worked, and average hourly wage by pay period.  This essential discipline will allow you to stay within budget, monitor overtime, and control your most significant expense.

3.   Formal forecasting by using historical cover benchmarks and knowledge of upcoming events, external factors, and optimum staffing levels, you can ensure expected service levels in the most cost-effective way.

4.   Timely and accurate inventories and benchmarking of inventories.  This will ensure budgeted cost of goods sold and identify any adverse anomalies or trends for investigation.  A further discipline that will yield significant benefits is to identify and inventory high value items weekly.

5.   Sales mix analysis.  This discipline will help you understand your members’ dining preferences while protecting profit margins.

6.   Basic dining policies.  Well-thought out and advertised dining policies will give all members an equal opportunity to enjoy the dining services while ensuring the highest service levels for all customers.

7.   Consistent pre-shift meetings with a purpose and continual On the Go Training.  There is no better way to prepare and train your staff for service.

8.   Product knowledge and upselling training for servers.  They can’t sell what they don’t know and servers well-trained in upselling techniques will increase your operation’s average check while enhancing your customers’ dining experiences.

9.   Upselling feedback.  If servers are provided daily sales goals and feedback on their efforts to upsell, they will be far more engaged, enthusiastic, and effective in increasing their average checks.  You just need to provide the numbers to them on a daily basis.

10.  Tools to Beat Budget.  This powerful discipline will ensure your bottom line, make you more knowledgeable about your operation, and make preparing future budgets a breeze.

Food service managers must make these disciplines part of their daily and weekly routines.  Once these disciplines are instituted and mastered, a number of them can be delegated to properly-trained and motivated subordinates.  When consistently applied, these basic and commonsense disciplines will ensure both profitability and customer service.  What more could you want for your operation?

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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Ten Steps to a More Profitable Food Service Operation

Monday, November 21st, 2011

While creativity and innovation are hallmarks of a truly outstanding culinary experience, it is a daily focus on the basics that makes a food service operation profitable.  The following ten basic guidelines are taught in every restaurant or hospitality program.  It is, however, the daily application of these principles that will make a difference on your bottom line.

1.   STANDARDIZED AND COSTED RECIPES

Every recipe for every menu item, both à la carte and catered, must be standardized and costed.  This basic discipline ensures consistency of product and ongoing profitability.  While the initial set up requires some effort on the part of the chef, it allows each item to be priced based upon its raw ingredient cost.  Given the volatility of some ingredients, it is important to revisit recipe costing on a periodic basis.  One way to simplify this process is to set up each recipe on a separate worksheet in an MS Excel® file.  By linking each recipe ingredient to a master ingredient list, the chef can easily update the master list, hence all recipe costing, on a monthly basis.  This discipline, once established, can easily be delegated.

2.   PRICING BASED ON KNOWN COST STRUCTURE

The standard method of pricing is to take the cost of each menu item and multiply it by an appropriate multiplier to cover the cost of labor, other expenses, and overhead.  For instance a 2½ times multiplier should yield a 40% food cost; a 3 times multiplier yields a 33% food cost.  This simple formula is all well and good, but if your revenues are below projections and/or your payroll cost or overhead are higher than expected, you may still lose money.  Given the interplay of revenues, pricing, volume of business, and cost structure, these numbers must be tracked closely and reviewed frequently.

3.   PORTION CONTROL

Standardized recipes are costed based upon specific portion sizes.  If untrained or poorly supervised employees routinely serve larger than costed portions, your profitability will literally be eaten up.  Costly meat and fish products should be weighed to ensure correct portion size.  Ladles of specific sizes should be used to plate specific menu items.  Pies, cakes, and other baked desserts should be cut and served using templates to ensure the correct number of portions are realized.  Cooks and pantry workers must be trained to prepare and serve appropriate sized portions.

4.   LABOR CONTROL

Labor, both front-of-house and in the kitchen, is the single largest expense in a food service operation; it is also a continuing challenge to control.  Electronic timekeeping systems make it easier for supervisors to verify daily hours, but regardless of system used, supervisors must monitor payroll hours daily.  Close monitoring of employee hours will reduce overtime and milking the clock, while allowing daily comparison of payroll cost to revenues.  Front- and back-of-house supervisors should also keep a daily log that notes revenues, meals served, payroll hours, and a subjective evaluation of the smoothness of service.  Such an evaluation of each meal period will enable supervisors to better schedule staff.

5.   BENCHMARKING REVENUES AND EXPENSES

Benchmarking is the act of measuring and analyzing operating performance.  In a food service operation there are many things to benchmark, such as meals served and average check per meal period by day of week; payroll hours by position by meal period or day; and beer, wine, liquor sold per meal period and day of week.  When tracked over time, these statistics become the baseline to project and monitor future performance.  Benchmarks also allow measurement of member reaction to food service initiatives such as new menus or pricing.  Most importantly, benchmarking makes supervisors more knowledgeable about their operations.  Such knowledge translates to improved operations and bottom lines.

6.   ROUTINE AND CONSISTENT INVENTORIES

Inventories are critical to monitor stock levels, avoid shortages, control pilferage, and determine cost of goods sold.  Inventories can also be time consuming and inconvenient for hard working chefs.  Inventories sometimes get delegated to poorly trained subordinates who miss or miscount key items.  Sloppy inventories contribute to erratic cost of goods sold.  Poorly organized storerooms contribute to sloppy inventories.  Keys to accurate inventories include well-organized storage areas, knowledgeable individuals conducting inventories, routine and timely inventories, and organized receiving documents, invoices, and credits slips.  Delegating counts is acceptable if employees are trained.  However, having the same employee conduct all inventories without spot-checking and oversight will invite problems.

7.   SUGGESTIVE SELLING TRAINING FOR EMPLOYEES

Service employees who are trained in the techniques of suggestive selling can improve your average check and bottom line.  Whenever a new menu is put in place, all servers should be provided a “selling sheet” that gives key information about each entree.  Such information should include cooking method, ingredients, time of preparation, and enticing descriptors to help sell each item.  Just as standardized recipes are important in the kitchen for consistency of product, selling sheets provide the service staff with the knowledge and information they need to sell the product.  In addition to entrees, special training should be given for the suggestive selling of appetizers, desserts, wines, and specialty alcoholic beverages.  The time spent providing servers with the information and confidence to sell your food and beverages will yield consistently higher average checks.

8.   CONTINUAL FEEDBACK TO EMPLOYEES

Every month’s budgeted food sales is made up of how many meals are sold and how much each member spends on average for a meal.  By breaking your projections down into meals and average check and posting your daily targets prominently in the pantry, you provide your servers with goals that connect their daily efforts to your profitability.  By comparing month-to-date actual meal counts and average check to projected, you give your employees a day by day record of their progress.  Most people are competitive by nature and this simple technique will become a powerful incentive to servers.  The same technique can be applied to appetizers, desserts, and bottles of wine sold.

9.   FORECASTING AND SCHEDULING

By tracking key revenue and patronage benchmarks and keeping a daily log of staffing, food service supervisors can develop a routine system of forecasting business levels.  While some level of volatility can always be expected in member patronage, the act of forecasting, when formally done and evaluated after the fact, will assist in maintaining member service while controlling labor cost.

10. MEMBER FEEDBACK

While some members are vocal with their opinions, many are not.  Food service supervisors should make it easy for members to provide feedback.  Member comment cards must be readily available, periodic surveys should be conducted, revenue benchmarks should be analyzed to measure member reaction to offerings and initiatives, and employees should be trained to routinely report comments made or overheard to supervisors.

Every professional food and beverage manager is aware of these necessary elements to success.  Unfortunately, in the ongoing rush of business they are often overlooked.  At its root the problem is one of organization and discipline.  By taking the time to establish systems to address each guideline, by training and delegating tasks, by making each guideline part of the daily routine, each of these steps can be easily integrated into your operation.  While the initial effort may be great, so also is the ongoing payback.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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