Friday, September 21, 2012

4Q Consulting, LLC | Restaurant Consulting NYC | Why a Weekly Food & Beverage Inventory is Crucial to your Small Business

Why a Weekly Food & Beverage Inventory is Crucial
to your Small Business 
Uncover 4 Drains on your Business!

Most independent restaurants calculate their food cost only once a month. Yet, virtually all the major chain restaurants calculate their food cost each week. According to industry averages, chain restaurants (before corporate expenses) are two to three times as profitable as independent restaurants.  While weekly food and beverage costing isn’t the entire reason, it’s a large part of it.

A weekly inventory is an important tool in controlling costs and cash flow. Here are four potential problems that could have a strong negative financial impact and that a weekly inventory can help you to uncover:

Waste -   It happens in every restaurant: A server accidentally spills a plate of food, or a kitchen worker burns several pieces of steak. No matter how it happens, all restaurant staff should get into the habit of recording all wasted items. Often the best defense against lost inventory is simply recording any raw product that is wasted and any complimentary items that are given away. If you don’t have a POS system that can handle this, an easy alternative is to handwrite the item, the amount wasted, and the reason it happened on a clipboard sheet. This way, all inventories is accounted for when analyzing usage.

Food Handling and Spoilage – Akin to waste, poor food handling that makes product unusable is one of the biggest contributors to depleted inventory. Commercial kitchen operators would do well to implement a mantra of "label, date, rotate and consolidate" with kitchen staff. When food is properly labeled and correctly dated, workers know what to use and when. Proper First-In, First-Out (FIFO) rotation is essential for reducing food spoilage, and proper consolidation from large, unwieldy containers to small, manageable ones will keep food fresher and more visible for use.

Theft - Employee theft is an unfortunate reality in many restaurants, and can be a reason for lost inventory. Theft involves anything from stealing full bottles of alcohol to eating restaurant food outside of employee meals. Keep an eye out for behavior that may point to restaurant employee theft and make sure you have the proper controls in place to prevent it.
Proper Product Ordering – Keeping excess inventory is expensive and proper product ordering, in frequency and amount, in accordance with your usage, is crucial to your success. This helps to prevent waste, promote proper handling and deter theft.  An excess of product might signal to employees that wasting food (as in making repeated mistakes) is acceptable, or that one bottle won’t be missed.  Invariably more food ends up burned, in the garbage or given away.  With less product to work with, food and beverages are handled more responsibly and less ends up wasted or stolen.

By taking a weekly inventory, you will have a full report on the current state of your business, and will be able to address issues before they become problems: Is food being wasted because employees are working irresponsibly, or the kitchen staff is not properly trained? Are managers ordering appropriately for the level of usage or is an over-order of staple items sitting unused? Are there proper procedures to account for the top-shelf liquor that seems to evaporate, and do you need to keep two cases of it on hand?

You will be able to foster a “culture of accountability” where managers and staff are held accountable for their work, producing a more effective workforce in your establishment.

Knowing your business in “real time” will allow you and your managers to be more nimble in responding to issues and better utilize your resources.

Let 4Q Consulting, LLC help you develop proper inventory and reporting procedures, to increase your efficiency and bottom line profits!

Friday, September 14, 2012

4Q Consulting, LLC | Restaurant Consulting NYC | Late Summer Heirloom Tomato Gratin

Late Summer Heirloom Tomato Gratin – grab a hold of the end of summer with this simple easy side dish.

This is an exquisite dish and very easy to pull together. In fact, you can prepare it ahead of time and warm it just before serving. Although they can overlap slightly, the tomatoes should essentially bake in a single layer, so make sure you have a large shallow dish, or use 2 small ones. If you have access to heirloom tomatoes, use them. The visual impact is a WOW, not to mention the flavor is amazing.  In the Restaurant, these can be made individually as side dishes.

  • 3 Large Ripe Tomatoes, Preferably Heirloom, Cored and Sliced 1/2" thick
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 3 TBSP EVOO, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 Cup Coarse, Fresh Bread Crumbs
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/3 Cup Finely Grated Good Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Roughly Clipped Basil

Place the tomato slices between 2 paper towels and let stand for 45 minutes to an hour. This will remove some of the liquid and keep the gratin from being soggy. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with a rack in the center position.  Brush a large, shallow gratin dish or earthenware casserole with a little olive oil.  Arrange the tomato slices only just slightly overlapping in the dish. Season lightly with salt and pepper and scatter half the basil over the top.  Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté only until the aroma is released, about 45 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs and a pinch more salt and pepper. Scatter the bread crumb mixture over the tomatoes and top with the Parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crumbs are golden. If desired, let stand for up to 1 hour, and reheat in a low oven for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Just before serving, garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of basil.

 Let us show you how the 4Q Consulting Approach can work for you!

4Q Consulting, LLC leverages in-depth expertise in all aspects of restaurant consulting and hospitality operations; we create client-specific solutions that drive measurable business improvement.

All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.

Monday, September 10, 2012

4Q Consulting | Restaurant Consulting NYC | What to Skip When Writing Your Restaurant Menu

Things to steer clear of on Restaurant Menus


Just Say No to clip art on your restaurant menu
As we head into fall and restaurants starting rolling out their new menus, it is a great time to analyze what your menu says about your business.
Menus are the heart of any restaurant; they are your customers’ introduction to their experience at your establishment, and showcase everything you have to offer for food and drink. While menus can be as diverse and varied as the restaurants they represent, a menu should be:

  • Easy to Read;
  • Easy to Understand;
  • Make your dishes sound appealing.

There are also certain things you should avoid when designing your restaurant menu. Read on for things to skip before you go to the printer.

Here are 5 things to steer clear of when writing your menus:

Hard to Read Fonts – Fonts are fun to play around with, but when it comes to writing your restaurant menu, simple is best. Make sure your font ties into the restaurant’s overall marketing and branding. Stay away from cursive, all bold or all capitalized text. Make sure you choose a font and font size that can be easily read during dinner hours – when the lighting tends to be darker.
Too Much Technical Jargon – Just because you keep a copy of Food Lover’s Companion on your desk, don’t assume your patrons do. Before you start throwing around a lot of culinary terms the masses may not understand, consider your audience. Even if your restaurant is an upscale, fine dining establishment, your menu descriptions should still be understandable. A few well-placed terms like sauté or mole (pronounced MOL-lay), will add just enough flavor to your menu, without frustrating customers. Of course, always make sure you staff is trained to answer any and all questions about the menu.
Itemized Menus – Avoid saying exactly how many pieces of food come in a dish. For example, don’t say “six jumbo shrimp” when describing shrimp cocktail. Simply saying “jumbo shrimp” will suffice. This way you can adjust portion control to keep your food costs in line. If you have to cut back to five shrimp instead of the advertised six, customers will notice and will feel cheated when they only get five.
Menu Disclaimers – Most menus will have a disclaimer or two in fine print on the bottom; some are required by law. Common disclaimers include: “gratuity will be added to parties of six or more” , “there is a health risk of consuming undercooked or raw shellfish and animal protein” or “Kids menu available only for those 12 and under.” Those are all fine but don’t go crazy with the disclaimers - Customers eat out to enjoy, not be told what you won’t do for them.
Clip Art – Believe it or not, I have seen clip art on menus in all types of restaurants! Most word processing and publishing programs come with a wide assortment of clip art for both business and personal use. It is tempting to use clip art in your menu – it is easy to add, with a wide variety of images. But clip art inevitably makes a menu look like it was done on a home computer. It lacks the polish of professional photographs or graphic designs featuring your restaurant’s logo. A graphic designer can help you design something that will make your restaurant menu stand out.

More Tips for Writing Your Restaurant Menu

Don’t laminate your menu. Professional laminating (because we agree that do-it-yourself laminating looks cheap and tacky) will quickly get expensive if you have to reprint your menus every six months, which is not uncommon. Instead, invest in menu jackets or covers that have clear sleeves. These allow you to update with new items or price changes, or replace because of wear and tear. Cost then is not a factor to make a change, and you can change as often as you need or want, which is a good business strategy overall.

Proof Read! And have others read it too! There is nothing worse than having spelling mistakes on your menus! Hire a professional copywriter, if need be. Have a sample audience read your menu and give you feedback. And don’t just give it to family and friends. Give it to people who you know will give you an honest opinion. Ask them:

  • Is easy to read?
  • Do they understand the descriptions?
  • Does it make your dishes sound appealing?

Let us show you how the 4Q Consulting Approach can work for you!
4Q Consulting, LLC leverages in-depth expertise in all aspects of restaurant consulting and hospitality operations; we create client-specific solutions that drive measurable business improvement.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

4Q Consulting | Restaurant Consulting NYC | Dessert Sales to Increase Profits

Making a living as a small business/restaurant owner is challenging in the best of times, and during economic downturns, it can feel downright impossible. However, slower times also give you an opportunity (time) to rework your menus and procedures to ensure that you make as much profit as possible off of each and every guest. 

It takes far more money to make additional sales by attracting new customers than it does to rework procedures that might get existing customers to spend a little more on each visit. 

A great way to increase your guest check average and decrease food cost is by selling more add-on items such as desserts and increasing the sales of these add-ons doesn’t need to cost you much, if anything at all! 
So double your dessert sales and see how much healthier your bottom line starts looking! 

5 Ideas for Increasing Dessert Sales in Your Restaurant 

It is likely that you have heard these ideas before - the wheel is not being reinvented here! These are just a few low cost ideas to help spark your own creativity and get you thinking about how you can make a little more on your own dessert sales program. 

1. The dessert cart 
Bring back the old fashioned dessert cart. Give your customers an enticing real-life visual display of their dessert offerings and you should see an increase in orders. 

2. The dessert card 
This one is a no-brainer for a casual restaurant, but really, every restaurant should think hard before dismissing the suggestive selling power of the nicely photographed dessert card positioned on the table.

3. Set the table for dessert before presenting the dessert menu 
This does not work well at a family style or very casual restaurant but is effective for more formal establishments. Setting a dessert place setting before giving the guests a dessert menu puts them in a very dessert-friendly state of mind…making the order of a dessert a very natural thing to do! 

4. Don't over-stuff your guests during dinner 
This one is tricky, and reducing portion sizes can easily backfire on you – but you can't expect many dessert orders from guests who have just consumed "super sized" foods! 

5. Tableside dessert displays 
Anything you can do to get your guests thinking about dessert should increase your check averages – and tableside cooking always attracts interest. Do a tableside flambé (well and safely!) and you will attract the favorable attention of nearby tables. 

So there you have it, 5 easy ideas to boost your dessert sales, increase average check sizes and help bring profit to your bottom line. 

Let us show you how the 4Q Consulting Approach can 
work for you! 

4Q Consulting, LLC leverages in-depth expertise in all aspects of restaurant consulting and hospitality operations; we create client-specific solutions that drive measurable business improvement.