Restaurants usually have to work with very tight margins and find creative ways to increase their profits. Raising prices is not always an option, however, as they don’t want to alienate their base. The next step is finding ways to reduce their operating costs. The good news here is that most restaurants don’t operate as cost-efficiently as they should, so there could be a chance that you are able to significantly drive your costs down by making a few changes. Here are a few ways in which you can cut your overhead without compromising quality.
Work with the Right Suppliers
Suppliers are everything in this business. If you want to keep your costs low, you have to find good suppliers and nurture your relationship with them. One of the most important suppliers to have in your corner is one for commercial equipment. You might never know what you will need in the future, and if you need to expand to a new location or add some equipment to your kitchen, having a good supplier that can work with you will be invaluable.
Here, we would suggest that you speak with people like mccombssupply.com. They’ve been in the business since 1953 and will be able to supply virtually any piece of equipment that you need. They have some of the best prices in the business too and are known for their great customer service, so don’t hesitate to give them a call and see what they can do for you.
Learn How to Fillet and Butcher Meat
One of the worst things that you can do as a restaurant owner is buy prepared cuts of meat. You should instead spend the time to fillet and clean fish and learn how to butcher meat so you can buy primal cuts. Another benefit to this is that you can control the quality. Buying something like ground beef from a supplier means that you can never tell what’s in it. They could literally change the blend overnight for something of lesser quality. You will then have to deal with serving lesser quality products to your clients and chances are you’ll hear from them.
Do as Much as You Can Yourself
Following in the same vein, you should try to stay away from everything that’s prepared unless it’s beneficial for you. In most cases, you can usually save money by doing things yourself. If you use a lot of herbs in your recipes, for instance, there is no reason why you couldn’t grow it on your own. This could mean hundreds of dollars that you could save every month just like that. Another thing that you should never buy prepared is tomato sauce. Tomato sauce is something everyone can make on their own and can be preserved in a freezer indefinitely. There will be no noticeable difference in taste either.
Some restaurants will go as far as growing their own food and preparing things like sausages and pasta in-house. If you feel you have the skills to do this, it could also be a great way to drive costs down, but also have more control over quality.
Another thing you should never spend money on is stock. If you have a lot of bones left over from preparations, you can make your own stock with them using a few simple ingredients. You should definitely be doing this if you’re using powdered stock.
Form Strategic Partnerships
You should know, however, that in some cases, buying prepared ingredients could work. This could be the case if you can’t afford to hire a kitchen helper to slice large quantities of vegetables for preparation. In this case, working with a food distributor could be beneficial.
Another thing you should do is see if you can partner up with other restaurateurs or people in the food business so you can make purchases together. This could allow you to have the same purchasing power as bigger restaurants and chains and pass those savings down to customers.
There are also cases when you don’t have the expertise in-house to provide a certain product. Some may want to offer desserts to people, for instance, but don’t have a pastry chef. Here, you could look at some bakeries in your area to see if they could partner up with you.
You could even find someone who will be ready to supply you practically for free if you give them some publicity. Many restaurants will say from which suppliers certain ingredients in their food came from. If you make milkshakes, for instance, you could partner with a well-known ice cream maker in your community and show that your milkshakes were made using their ice cream. This could allow you to save money and also benefit from their brand’s recognition.
If you have an army of foot soldiers delivering menus door to door or are spending thousands on radio ads or billboards, you will have to rethink how you do marketing. You should be spending more of your time, money, and energy on new methods that could cost you less and will be more efficient. Consider reviewing your restaurant’s branding. It may be time to find better catering logos for your food business or focus on social media advertising. You should have a local SEO strategy in place if you haven’t already. SEO could be a goldmine for a restaurant that is in a very particular niche as you’ll have virtually no one to compete with, which could allow you to monopolize search results for certain categories.
You also need to start looking at things such as Pay-Per-Click advertising, have a strong presence on social media, and work on email marketing. Focusing on building a solid base and taking care of them through regular offers will keep them coming and will push them to spread the word about your business. And the best part is that it’ll cost you a fraction of what you’d have to pay on more expensive methods.
These are all simple ways that you can keep your restaurant’s operating costs down. We suggest you try some or all of these if you can, and always try to find ways to run a leaner, more efficient operation.