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How to lower your food purchasing costs

How to lower your food purchasing costs

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From renovations to computer systems, equipment to uniforms, restaurant costs have a tendency to add up. How can you supply a kitchen with the freshest, most delicious and most sustainable ingredients at the lowest cost?
First, start with your delivery area. Begin by meeting with your vendors and ask each one to build current order guides listing only the product that you buy from them. Create a spreadsheet of these items and provide this list to your ordering manager. Include a par for each item, or an amount that should be on the shelf, in the kitchen, and in the front of the house. When your manager does inventory, this will prevent overordering.

Keep your inventory tight. These inventory sheets should hang on a clipboard in a specified area. When the delivery person brings in the product, your manager can take this clipboard and check the inventory order sheet against the invoice, insuring all correct product has been delivered, prices are accurate and that you are getting exactly what you are paying for.

Next, keep an industrial foodservice floor scale in your kitchen prep area to weigh in any product you buy by the pound. Nearly all delivery people are honest, but I have caught some dropping light product more times than I care to recall, whether on purpose or by mistake. Weighing deliveries has saved thousands of dollars on lost product.

Make sure your meats, seafood and other most expensive products are delivered as early as possible. This requirement also avoids any “I-was-too-busy-to-check” excuses. These costly items should only be checked in by your g.m. or kitchen manager.

Finally, establish a standard delivery time. I suggest that all deliveries arrive between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Be sure to stress to your salesperson that failure to drop within your specified delivery times will result in loss of business for them.

Why? Setting specified delivery times stresses the importance of receiving product to both your delivery person and to your management staff.

Recently I hired a director of purchasing to follow these guidelines listed for our seafood restaurant, Arch Rock Fish, in Santa Barbara, CA. In one year, we reduced our food cost by nearly three points, an extra savings to our restaurant of $45,000.

It’s all about making small changes that create big, lasting results. Many of the reasons that restaurant costs can flare are that simple procedures and tests get overlooked. It’s important to utilize restaurant-wide, cost-insurable standards across each platform of the business.

Jeremiah Higgins is a partner and senior operations advisor at Santa Barbara, CA-based HJL Group Restaurant Advisors. Reach him at 800-901-0401 or [email protected].

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