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This is a guest post from Cosmo Nicastro.  Cosmo is the founder and senior advisor of the Food Service Advisor.   Their services include management and financial consulting, training for front of house and training for back of house.  Their training modules are among the best in the industry and deal with all aspects of food service challenges.   

INDEPENDENT RESTAURANTS ADAPTING FORMULA 

Food Service Advisor Proves Worth

You chase down the best cost from your purveyors.  Your receiver handles and stores the perishables properly.  You have a back of the house staff that prepares and plates efficiently.  Your wait staff is attractive, informative and they know how to sell.  The atmosphere is warm, inviting and conducive to transacting business with your clientele.  Sounds like a winning formula?  It is a formula that every major restaurant chain in America strives to achieve.  Here’s the question to you: -do you have that formula in place?

A partnership with one “key” distributor is essential to your success, -let me explain why.  You need a partnership with people who have built their business as you have built yours.  Try to align yourself with a distributor that shares your values on doing business.  As the profits continue to shrink all along the chain of processing, packaging and distribution in the foodservice industry, it is time to, “put your eggs in one basket.” Choose an operating company where the key decision makers are in the building.  Whether you chose a national or a regional; put a partnership in place with a distributor and team that you trust.  Push that distributor to get you your best cost.  Talk to your partner about increasing their drop size per delivery and reducing your invoiced pricing.  Your partner’s goal is to have efficient trucks making deliveries. Your goal is to have the best cost possible on every item that truck delivers.  If you are not having that conversation with your distributor representative,  -start now.

The purveyor that delivers your produce has the most pressure on them. Their items are the most perishable: temperature and time sensitive. Time and temperature are keys to extending the product’s shelf life.  Extending the shelf life increases your profitability and reduces your and your purveyors “shrinkage.”  Shrinkage is the amount of product you or your purveyors throw away each week.  You both have the same goal, for your customers to eat the “Greens” and keep them out of the trash barrel.  You know that your produce purveyor has invested in the refrigeration units in both the warehouse and the trucks. When you place your next produce order, ask how much their last expansion cost? Inquire about the fuel cost to keep the “refer” running on the trucks.  They have trained their people on how to properly handle the cases to optimize your shelf life.  Look how hard to try to maintain the temperature in your walk in, that door opens and closes thousands of times a week. Pointed question, are you optimizing that item’s shelf life once you have it in your building?

Do you have the best practices in place to optimize the food cost of your finished plate?  The cost behind that plate, before it is handed to your server, is vital to your financial success.  Let’s go back to that major restaurant chain; do you think they have those practices in place?  Have you ever seen the practices and procedure policies in a corporate kitchen? How about taking a close look at what you do, what they do, and how you can increase your profits by having an open mind. This piece of the pie includes labor.  Decreasing labor does not mean you have to let staff go; it’s putting better practices in place for your employees. Product handling and preparation may be the place we can find ways to increase your profit per plate.

Your choice of server is one of your most crucial decisions; they are the face to face contact with your customer.  Your server is as important to you as your Chef.  They convey the values “you” find important. Your Chef may have the best entrée ever made, but if your staff can not explain this to your customer, then that entrée is never 86’d, -it is tossed out.  Do you have a list of attributes you desire in your wait staff?  Do you have that list readily available for the person doing the new hire interviews?  Do you do the interviews?  How do you determine what a successful waitperson is?  Are you creating an atmosphere that fosters a “happy” employee? Is that really important?  You have the best cost, your back of the house has the efficiencies down are your wait staff closers?

Don’t be confused. We are not suggesting you become a corporate chain, -just the opposite; we want to emphasis your independence.  Your dining room has the “feel” you created.  Your reputation was created by the nuances you put in place. That’s your choice of artwork.  You picked the flowers in the vase and the music choice came from your playlist.  Our suggestion is that we need to mimic the best practices of our competitor while maintaining your individuality.

Food Service Advisor will point you in a direction that will allow you to grow your business the old fashion way, with smart business decisions, hard work, a quality product and an atmosphere that brings them back again and again.

Cosmo Nicastro is a founder and Senior Advisor at Food Service Advisor

 

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