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5 Ways To Stay Profitable Through The Tough Times

The best restaurant operators always have a few extra tricks up their sleeves when times are tough. Sure, every operator looks good when the restaurant is full every day. Every decision you make goes well, each menu item you add sells, and every hire is the right one. The rare mistakes quickly get swept under the rug and everyone moves on.

But what happens when times get a little harder? Finding a way to work through the difficult times so we can see the sun rise again is what the restaurant business is all about. You may be the type of operator willing to endure the tough times we all eventually encounter. But having a few "go to" moves is essential when it comes time to cut costs.

There are ways to reduce costs without reducing the quality and service.

Online Ordering

Online reservation systems or online order systems streamline the ordering process for improved efficiencies and can bring in new customers as well.

Food Cost

"Measure what you want to improve"! This remains true in the new world of technology. There are visual ways to help bring awareness to the restaurant team. One method is to use a garbage bin for all food waste. Measure the weight of the waste each shift (or day) and record it. Tracking, reporting, and bringing attention to waste influences each team member.

If your goal is to reduce cost of sales by 1% to 2% and you feel your controls are already maximized, consider how you might change the menu mix and take a look at waste. You also might want to consider an inventory application that will simplify keeping track of your inventory and reducing costs .

Labor Cost

The old way to create a schedule was with a pen and paper, or maybe an Excel spreadsheet. Then, the manager in charge of this tedious task would spend hours planning that week's schedule and trying to coordinate between requested time off and part time schedules.

New online scheduling products can put an end to this misery, or at least make this cumbersome process more efficient.

Online scheduling products allow employees to submit requests for time off. They also allow employees to trade shifts between one another. After all, the manager doesn't necessarily need to be a bottleneck to that. All he or she needs is an email notification. Because the system is handled online, employees can access their schedule and get alerts of any changes through email, text message, or push notification.

In general, bringing this process online saves managers a ton of time, which saves the restaurant a lot of money.

Compliance Reporting

Like I mentioned above, if you're doing something the old school way, chances are you could probably save a ton of time and money by taking the process online. The same thing goes for compliance reporting.

A digital reporting solution incorporates digital logbooks (mobile app versions of traditional logbooks, delivered on sturdy tablets built for restaurants) and wireless sensor technology to automate some of the reporting, such as temperature recording. This method will not only make the reporting process faster (about 50% according to our customers) but it will also save you money by providing data and insights to drive your strategy for other cost-saving initiatives. For instance, if you know what the average temperature of your freezers is over time, and you realize it's running slightly too cold, you have identified a cost-saving measure. But if that temperature data is locked in traditional logbooks, you'll never know how much money you are losing.


Every piece of equipment has a potential for money leak. The costs creep up with repairs or inefficiencies. Poor equipment operation has a serious impact on employee productivity. The staff should be your eyes and ears and let you know where they waste time.

It's easy to miss costs that aren't as obvious as others. Be proactive, question everything!