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5 Tips for Off-Premises Dining Inventory Management

Daniel Schaefer
Solution Manager, Food & Beverage

We’ve seen many customers seemingly overnight, adopt or prioritize take-out and delivery services to maintain revenue streams. Now more than ever, it’s essential to effectively manage cost and control waste to ensure the sales you capture have a healthy bottom-line. We’ve identified 5 essential tips for restaurants to effectively analyze and manage restaurant inventory and re-focus operations on increasing both efficiency and profitability.

5 ways to effectively manage restaurant inventory and enhance off-premises operations:

  1. Utilize Your Restaurant Point-of-Sale Reporting and Analytics 

You’ve likely already reviewed your historical reports to gain an understanding of your top selling menu items and those that would travel well. Those dishes deemed both popular and portable likely make up the majority of your new take-out menu. Now take it one step further to understand which of your menu items could be adjusted to optimize low food costs, and in turn, increase your profit. Utilize this information to place more accurate orders with your vendors and identify what can be removed from your order to keep costs down. Similarly, if faced with product shortages, an effective analysis of your restaurant cost of sales (COS) can also help you evaluate which of your more prevalent items could perhaps be replaced with an alternative. For example, if chicken is increasing in price or becoming particularly hard to get a hold of, could the recipe use turkey as a temporary substitute? The following examples provide a look at possible analyses: 

Simulation of an ingredient price change, raising a burger patty price by $0.30, and the impact on actual COS% vs modelled COS% for all burger recipes.

Simulation of an ingredient price change when adjusting quantity or cost. The first scenario looks at a turkey sandwich with 3 slices vs. 2 slices of turkey.

Simulation of an ingredient price change when adjusting quantity or cost. The second scenario models the cost of the recipe with a lower cost ingredient.

  1.  Prioritize Multi-purpose Menu Staples    

To increase efficiency and keep costs in check, ensure your menu is manageable. For many restaurants, this will mean reducing your 40+ items on your dine-in menu to a more controllable 15-20. Doing this will help keep costs down and increase both inventory and labor efficiency. It is also important to work collaboratively with your suppliers to engineer your menu and design recipes based on available and cost attractive ingredients to optimize profitability. Consider featuring dishes with similar or the same recipe foundations, for example utilizing the same cost-effective meatball sauce in your Spaghetti, Meatball Sandwich and Calzone dishes. In doing so you can reduce both your inventory and labor costs whilst also increasing your operations hygiene as the preparation of these dishes require less physical contact than if each dish was made according to a different recipe.

  1. Turn Takeout Options into an At-Home Experience:

The fresh-food meal-kit delivery market is estimated to hit $11.6B by 2022, it’s trendy and familiar to most at this stage of the maturity curve so why not consider a similar concept to delivery to the next level by providing an ‘at home’ experience. We’ve seen customers recently designing a 'build your own dish’ style of service, whereby, all the ingredients and instructions needed for creating your favorite restaurant's dishes at home are provided in a single package. To do this, utilize your inventory and menu management reports to accurately calculate correct ingredient quantities, recipes, and package prices. Not only can this lower your labor costs, but provides an activity for the whole family to enjoy from the safety of their own home.

  1.  Up-sell High-Margin Items

Several states and countries have recently altered laws and regulations to allow restaurant operators with an appropriate license to offer alcohol as part of a takeout or delivery order, which can increase your revenue opportunities. In such cases, make sure your customers are aware, perhaps through creating a deal that matches your besting selling Wines, Beers or Liquor items with certain dishes. Or utilize this new combination deal to help push menu items with slower stock turnover.

  1. Track Your Food Movement

Now more than ever, it’s important to track your food movement and understand where food and food costs go. Review this simple checklist with your team to minimize food waste as much as possible:

  • Shorten shelf-life time (reduce the risk of products turning bad)
  • Ensure communication between phone, app, online POS system orders and kitchen staff is simple and clear to avoid mistakes
  • Monitor inventory levels and make it visible -- employees will pay more attention if they see that owners and leadership are focused on it
  • Include packaging materials and any other items in your recipe calculation to ensure you have a good inventory cost understanding

Effective analysis of your restaurant’s data can go a long way in your operations’ ability to adapt quickly and seamlessly to new business conditions, whilst helping you to minimize the costly process of trial and error. For more guidance on how your inventory management system and reporting and analytics software can assist in a smooth transition from on to off-premise, restaurant services check out our Simphony and R&A learning paths.

Looking to optimize your takeout and delivery operations? Get a complimentary assessment by our solution engineers today. Reach us by phone: US: +1 866-287-4736; UK: +44 207 5626 827; AU: 1300 366 386; LAD: 52 559 178 3146) | chat | or request a call back.

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