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A Concise Guide to Labour and Food Cost Control for Restaurants

Merchant Spotlight – Folks Collective Singapore
December 10, 2019
Merchant Spotlight - Asap Steamboat & Grill
Merchant Spotlight – Asap Steamboat & Grill
January 6, 2020

While good food and good service are the foundation of a successful restaurant, profile margins can be slim if there isn’t a plan put together for labor and food cost control. If the business is doing well, then your restaurant’s profitability can be a direct result of your ability to control your service and food costs without sacrificing your customer’s satisfaction and needs. To make sure you understand the ins and outs of controlling food and labor costs, we’ve put together a quick guide for you.


  1. Develop a sales forecast

By looking at your sales history, you’ll be able to figure out your usual customer counts, menu item sales and popularity percentages for your menu items. Through this data, you can roughly predict how many customers are expected, as well as the menu items that will be ordered by these customers. This allows you to do a proper forecast and determine the food production quantities needed. In short, you’ll be able to prevent over-production where food is wasted and not sold. 


  1. Establish a food production schedule 

By keeping a food production schedule, you’ll be able to keep track of the par-amount to be prepared for each menu item and the on-hand amounts remaining from the previous shift. This does not only allow you to better manage your food costs, but you can also keep your food production on schedule. Understand how long each menu item will take in terms of cooking and preparation, and you’ll be able to manage your staff’s efficiency and labor cost, too.


  1. Portion control and tracking

Start getting your chef to portion ingredients by weight and figure out how much is needed to help budget food costs. When possible, purchase pre-portioned items to save time and ensure accuracy. To further control usage, you can track portions daily and compare numbers with total servings sold. This will also allow you to prevent theft and reduce waste. 


  1. Cross-train your staff

Level up your staff’s productivity by cross-training them in different job functions. For instance, your servers should be able to take orders, get the bill and run food to tables. Or your cooks should be able to handle both the grill and sauté stations. Cross-training will empower them to take charge and also get them to be their most productive and efficient selves at work. Moreover, when you’re short of staff, it’ll be easier to manage.


  1. Devise a smart staff schedule

With the sales forecast, you know the number of expected tables on different days of the week. Use this to your advantage by having fewer staff on slow days to minimize your labor costs. Schedule the rookies to train up during less busy times and get the veterans to work during the rush hours. Not only will service run a lot smoother, but you’ll also maximize productivity and get more out of your staff.


  1. Put together a solid training program

Although gaining new customers is important for growth and expansion, restaurants often rely on loyal customers on coming back and spreading the word. One of the easiest ways to ensure that customers return to spend more money is to keep them happy. Good service creates a pleasant, memorable dining experience. Get your staff to remember your returning customers’ names and preferences. This will create more incentives for them to come back. 

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