Save some green in 2018
Looking to reduce waste in the New Year? From your menu to your suppliers to your energy use, there are many ways to cut back. Toast shared a few hacks that can help you save money. When you adjust menu prices, use a random pricing strategy that raises the price of a few items by a nickel or dime each month, instead of conspicuously increasing prices across the board at one time. What menu items are making you the least money? Even if the items are favored by some guests or you already have the ingredients on hand, eliminate the items that aren’t making money. If you scan prices every week and buy from the cheapest vendor, avoid price manipulation by approaching your favorite supplier and offering to give them a large percentage of your business in exchange for a purchase agreement with better pricing. Consider joining a group purchasing organization, like Team Four/Value 4, to pool your buying power with others to get better pricing. Are you using out-of-season produce for menu items or garnishes? Review your options with your produce supplier every month to find alternatives and avoid anticipated price surges. Apply a similar strategy with your meat purveyor —ask for left-over or alternative cuts of meat that are high in quality but might not otherwise be used. To conserve energy, install cooler, energy-efficient LED light bulbs, limit trips in and out of the refrigerator, and run the dishwasher only when it’s full (installing low-flow toilets can conserve water, too —about four gallons per use).
When delivery eats into your catering business
As corporate luncheons and entertaining have become more casual, many companies are bypassing formal catering services in favor of foods available via delivery (which have become increasingly plentiful as restaurants have tapped into third-party services who offer it). But some operators have found that the plethora of restaurant delivery options is putting a dent in their catering business — while potentially sacrificing quality. Crain’s Chicago Business reports that in the greater Chicago area, foodservice businesses that cater have begun promoting to customers the differences between hiring a caterer or relying on a delivery service to provide food. For example, catering staff will have been trained in food safety issues and will have the equipment needed to ensure food is transported and served at a safe temperature. It is unlikely there will be any such guarantees with a delivery service. If you’re a caterer who offers drop-off meals, be sure to promote any benefits you provide over a delivery service, such as menu planning, delivery, setup, and order accuracy. At the same time, it’s important to make ordering a catering spread as user-friendly as it is to order food via a delivery service: Your technology should allow customers to order food quickly and easily, and your menu should offer the variety and customization that customers expect from their favorite restaurant.
A food safety program from one who knows
When your company owns and operates more than 200 sushi outlets in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom, the survival of your business depends on food safety. Josh Onishi, CEO and president of Peace Dining Corporation, talked to Food Safety Magazine recently about how he approaches it. For one, he said, operators must value food safety from the top down and manage to it. That means empowering employees to take action when something does not look right and tying rewards, bonuses and promotions to maintaining safety standards. Communicate about food safety internally and externally, and at every opportunity, whether in orientations, team meetings or advertisements. Select vendors based on their food safety standards and rate them on such factors as their quality, process, handling, storage and shipping. On top of using technology that traces your supply from harvesting to storage to shipping, aim to have real people you trust on hand at each link in the distribution chain.
Storage that promotes food safety
How you store food in your restaurant can either help you avoid a food safety incident —or set you up for one. R Magazine shared some tips to help you stay on track. First, do you follow the first-in, first-out rule? As soon as food is delivered, ensure every item carries a “use-by” label and then store your newest items behind older ones to make sure you’re making best use of your inventory. Use airtight containers for all types of food to extend shelf life and minimize the chance of cross-contamination. Meat should be stored below other items and away from produce. To ensure food maintains the proper temperature when refrigerated, don’t overload your cold storage areas. Clean equipment, shelves and storage units daily to avoid bacteria build-up, and store food items between six and 12 inches off of the floor in order to reduce contamination from water, dust and dirt.
Food delivery, with in-house quality standards intact
To preserve market share in a competitive industry, many restaurants are turning to delivery to “save the day,” according to Doug Sutton of the restaurant consultancy Steritech. Whether you’re looking to save your business or simply improve it through delivery, Sutton advises you incorporate your brick-and-mortar quality-control systems and processes into your delivery strategy. Make sure you communicate a clear pick-up process to your delivery drivers (and the company managing them) to expedite the receipt of an order. Review your packaging to ensure it preserves the appearance and temperature of your food, as well as prevents tampering. Develop standards for maintaining the temperature of hot and cold foods, then work with delivery partners to ensure they have the systems and tools in place to maintain your standards. Have a system to monitor the quality and safety of your food upon delivery and work with your delivery partner to determine steps to take if and when service falls short.
Amazon-style tech for the restaurant industry
As data gains power in the restaurant industry, a number of restaurant technology companies are looking to take their clients from a place of simply understanding customer behavior and buying patterns to a place where they can predict who their customers are online and how to reach them. In other words, they want to bring Amazon-style insight and revenue growth to the restaurant business. When leaders of restaurant technology companies shared their predictions for 2018 with Modern Restaurant Management recently, they said the next year will bring advances in how restaurants will reach customers. Not only will operators be able to identify their customers and preferences but they will be able to connect to them with customized incentives, offering them what they want before they know they want it.
More consumers go out of their way for global flavors
Want to spice up your menu this year? Look beyond our borders and try offering an unexpected ethnic food. A recent Datassential survey of more than 1,000 consumers found that people of all generations are willing to step outside of their comfort zones and sample global flavors. That includes 68 percent of Millennials and Generation Z, 50 percent of Generation X and 44 percent of Baby Boomers. Among the most recent global meals these consumers ate, Asian foods dominated, with the Americas and Europe following, then Africa and the Middle East. More than half of the survey respondents said they would make an effort to try a global food after hearing about it.
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