The holiday season can be a busy and lucrative time for restaurants. However, more than 40% of businesses report up to a 25% increase in costs during this period. Cut down on your food and labor costs to make this the most profitable holiday season yet.

The Season to Get SMART

We all know that saving money is important, but unless we create clear goals around that, it’s hard to tell what’s working and where to improve. SMART is an acronym that refers to goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Instead of having a goal to increase revenue, get specific about how much of an increase you are aiming for compared to previous years. Another example of a SMART goal is to eliminate or reduce overtime by a specific amount. This is a great way to save money and establish good scheduling practices at the same time.

As you head into the holiday season, set SMART goals for your management team, FOH, and BOH teams. These can include hourly sales goals, waste reduction goals, etc. When possible, put incentives in place so that staff remain as motivated to hit those goals as you are. Performance Foodservice’s One Source partner, TouchBistro, can help you increase sales, find cost savings, reduce food waste, improve FOH-to-BOH communication, and more on one simple platform.

A Merry Menu

Before making any changes, it’s important to evaluate your menu to see what’s selling well, what items are the most profitable, and where you have the most loss and waste. Consider reducing the number of menu items, trimming items that don’t sell well or have a low-profit margin, and focusing on dishes that you can execute consistently at a price your customers will pay. This may mean reconfiguring menu items to cross-utilize ingredients from another dish. Add to your bottom-line income and dramatically reduce your costs with the help of Recipe Costing, a Performance Foodservice One Source partner.

It’s also important to find a sweet spot in your hours of operation. Are there times during the week when your staff isn’t usually busy? Think about what it would look like to be closed during that time. If that’s possible, it might be a good solution to reduce labor costs. Likewise, if you notice you’re missing walk-up traffic or holiday shoppers looking for a meal, consider increasing or shifting hours to address that demand.

Holiday History

The most important tool you have for saving money on both labor and food is your records. Typically, you can use your POS system to pull up numbers from previous years. This is vital for helping to plan things like staffing, ordering, and prep. Look at your average sales data from the holidays and compare it to your labor and food costs to ensure that you are profitable and meeting your goals.

Holiday Helpers

In addition to fostering a sense of team spirit, cross-training staff is a useful technique to compensate for labor shortages and to avoid paying overtime. You should build this into your initial training process, but around the holidays, it can be useful to have some refresher training. Cross-trained staff can provide backup for maxed-out co-workers and can cover shifts in a pinch if someone calls out at the last minute, alleviating the stress on the entire team.

Waste-Free Winter

One of the biggest sources of loss for a restaurant is food waste, so it’s important to put systems in place to reduce waste from the kitchen to the bar. Standardizing recipes and providing consistent training for new staff can help eliminate some food waste right off the bat. Beyond that, look for creative ways to reuse meat and vegetable scraps creatively so that you’re getting the maximum yield on each ingredient. Software like MarketMan can help manage inventory and keep costs under control.

The Gift of Automation

In some cases, automation can drastically reduce your labor and food costs. Bear Robotics provides cutting-edge “intelligent automation for hospitality” with Servi, a robot programmed to navigate environments from restaurants, bars, hotels, or entertainment spaces while delivering orders, bussing tables, and enabling enhanced hospitality.

Robotic labor assistance may seem out of this world and outside of your budget, but other tools like self-order stations and check-out kiosks can free up staff for other tasks, eliminating repetitive work and allowing them to focus on improved customer service.

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