The foodservice industry has seen more than its fair share of changes over the past couple of years. While unpredictability seems constant, with the right partners, products and solutions, there are opportunities to make the best of recent shifts.
Improving and Protecting Margins
6 in 10
full-service operators reported offering fewer menu items than pre-pandemic.?
In today’s environment, it’s crucial to take a closer look at portion sizes, but the practice isn’t about serving less food to save money. It’s about finding the balance between meeting guest expectations and delivering value — for patrons and operators alike. Chef Michael Braden from General Mills recommends caution, though. “Be careful when reducing portions. Customers expect they’ll get what they got last time. You want to ensure you’re protecting your perceived value.”
For example, he suggests offering different sized portions of some of your most popular menu items. This strategy offers customers a lower-cost, lower-portioned option for someone who may want to spend or eat less — and the dish can also be priced to provide better margins for you.
Another strategy Chef Michael recommends is to continuously train your staff and make them partners in your efforts to preserve margins and reduce costs. Reiterate how crucial it is that every portion be the exact right size — down to the ounce — so nothing is being given away.
“Alleviate back of house labor and supply constraints through use of frozen,
refrigerated and speed scratch products.”
THE STATE OF THE INDEPENDENT OPERATOR
MOMENTUM, TECHNOMIC 2022
Now is the ideal time to audit your menu and make tough choices on items that can be removed.
LTOs can help you ease the transition while you figure out the right balance.
There are plenty of advantages to simplified, more streamlined menus:
- They alleviate the hurdles that come with labor shortages and can create faster order turnarounds.
- Larger profit margins can be achieved by increasing the volume of your food and ingredient orders and lowering the number of items you keep in inventory.
- While making menu cuts may seem painful, you can achieve more consistent branding by being known for a few key, signature items.
“Your back-of-house staff is invaluable in ensuring you’re not creating unnecessary waste. Look for ways to engage and empower them so they’re true partners in reducing costs. For instance, when you do a garbage can check, let them know what you find, and explain ways they can help. If they feel invested in the success of the operation, they will simply perform better.”
CHEF MICHAEL BRADEN
SENIOR CULINARY MANAGER, GENERAL MILLS FOODSERVICE
Making New Menu Formats Work Harder
As online ordering along with digital and web-based menus grow in popularity, it’s important to unlock their full potential. Here are a few of the upsides:
- Digital menus offer the flexibility to be updated on the fly, allowing for adjustments due to supply issues and other factors.
- Online ordering brings in a wealth of information you can analyze for inventory management, menu insights, staffing needs and more.
- Avoid third-party delivery surcharges that hurt margins by upgrading your own website to accommodate orders.
- Implement various reminders and suggested add-ons to boost up-sells, especially for online ordering.
Work closely with your digital menu provider to ensure you have the most impactful templates, experience data and other benefits they provide.
Change is certainly here to stay, and while it may be frustrating, putting a positive spin on necessary pivots will help today and tomorrow.
¹NRA Industry Forecast 2022