Measure by Measure
It happens at some point in every restaurant: When short on time during prep, or in the rush to get food out of the kitchen, the staff skips the important step of weighing and measuring. To the detriment of profits, scales and measuring tools often go unused on shelves and in cabinets. Over-portioning is the quickest way to increase your food costs and deteriorate your margins.
Measuring product is essential in tracking, analyzing and calculating food costs. Even if your food costs are already at your target, a good portion control system can help further reduce cost, improving your margins and bottom line. In the long run, the benefits of accuracy are worth the investment in several reliable industrial scales and a full complement of measuring tools.
Here are 4 steps to improve food costs and profits through portion control:
Have the Right Measuring Tools
Any tool that is difficult to operate, or does not function well in the intended environment, will quickly fall into disuse. Encourage use of proper weighing and measuring tools by working with your staff to find tools that they can manage easily in your kitchen. It is useful to have several scales with different units of measure, such as grams, ounces and pounds, throughout your kitchen. It is also import to have an array of sized scoops, measuring cups, portion bags, and other volume measurement tools. Make these tools readily accessible so they get used all the time.
Measuring - Not Just for Expensive Proteins
Accuracy reduces costs. Everything coming into and going out of your kitchen should be measured. Most obviously measure all of your center-of-the-plate items during prep, but don’t forget your appetizers, sides, salads and desserts. Additionally, check all deliveries for proper weights and measures, particularly double-check any pre-portioned proteins. Any discrepancies should be noted; an error on the distributor’s end should not affect your bottom line.
Establish Written Recipes and Measurement Standards
Consistency reduces waste. For this reason, written recipes and measurement standards are essential. Slight over-portioning over time adds-up financially: If a crab cake recipe calls for 3oz of meat, but 4oz is used when making a batch of 100 cakes, over 6lbs of crab meat is wasted. At $25 per pound, this inconsistency added $155 to your food cost. Train staff on the recipes and the use of the appropriate measurement tools.
Know Thy Waste
The goal should be to have as little waste as possible in your kitchen. However, there will be times when waste occurs. By weighing and tracking waste, as well as identifying the cause of the waste (over ordering, improper or excess production, poor food handling and storage procedures) you can account for the cost and address its root cause.
The 4 steps above can easily be transferred to managing product usage at the bar, as well.
A system to weigh, measure and track is only effective when it is used: You must devise a program that works in your environment and that your employees will maintain. Better understanding the flow of product and waste in your kitchen allows you to use your resources most effectively, improving cash flow and profits.
Don’t know where to begin? Ask yourself, do you have the proper written procedures and operational guidelines in place to help you be as profitable as possible? 4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs. Email us today for a free business consultation at www.4qconsult.com.
All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.