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Bad portioning hurts your restaurant

More than your margin may be damaged.

Friday 24 February 2017

With rising food costs, small profit margins, increasing competition and value conscious customers the last thing you need is poor portion control.

We’ve all been to restaurants where we have felt short-changed.  Where someone on the table received a noticeably bigger steak than you or a more generous portion of pasta than the norm.  Customers notice this too and will either complain or vote with their feet.  Both will cost your business and hit your profits.

Then there is the issue of food cost.  A client of ours asked why one restaurant in the group achieved 73% gross profit (27% food cost) while another only 68% (32% food cost).  As part of our audit we weighed individual items across all their restaurants and the variances were astounding.

At one restaurant, the steak used for their Asian stir fry beef weighed 163g while at a second it weighed 284g.  Basing sales on an average of 85 Asian stir fry beef per week and a cost per gram of 1.5p the additional cost would be around £7,490 per annum to the client, worse still if this was the trend across the rest of the estate.

Do your employees have the tools to do the job correctly?

Modern digital scales are portable, easy to read and able to measure accurately down to a fraction of a gramme.  They are also equipped with push button tare weight capabilities enabling you to zero out the weight of the container or weigh multiples in one continuous flow.

Non-tech portion control items include portioning scoops, cups, ladles and containers.  Make sure you have the right size portion control items available.  For a small investment, you could save a small fortune.

Check production weights daily.  Select, at random, one or two items from the fridge and weigh them, in front of the kitchen team.  If something isn’t right address it immediately with the team.

The portioning improvements you make will result in happier guests, lower food cost and a healthier bottom line.

Do you review your food costs?

We advise restaurateurs to undertake regular stocktake, both in the bar and food operations.  As a minimum, this should be monthly and if you have the time and resources better to complete on a weekly basis.

These should be supplemented by an external stocktake at least every 3 month or the end of each financial quarter.  You will get the necessary valuation certificates and much more detailed reports than an in-house stocktake would provide.