Running a small business in itself is no easy task. Operating a restaurant, however, is another story. It requires a hands on approach, since many of the variables that make a food place successful can be unpredictable and extremely hard to control. For most of us, nothing can be more frustrating than the fluctuating and erratic food costs. Not only because the price hikes are completely out of the owner’s hands, but also because it comes with little to no warning at all. In light of this, you might wonder: will learning the causes of high food costs help? Are there any food cost control methods that can solve this age-old dilemma? It’s a yes for both, and here are other questions that restauranteurs can’t help but ask themselves when facing high food costs.
Can I track food prices?
Yes, and you should. It’s never detrimental to track the price movement in the market so that you are aware if a certain product is slated for a price drop or an increase. If you’re thinking of making countermeasure for price costs, you need to have an idea of what you’re up against. Of course, your data can never be 100% accurate, and there will always be sudden price movements that will catch you off guard. But for the most part, it’ll surely payoff to pay attention.
Is it smart to change suppliers?
Don’t forget to always shop around a bit when the rates are high, and be open to change distributors whenever you see fit. Of course, you can bargain, too, since some suppliers often make reasonable ‘one-off’ deals with long-time customers. If the option is available, secure a long-term purchasing deal for the ingredients that you often need, so that you won’t have to scramble every time the prices spike.
Will it help if my menu is on a seasonal basis?
By changing the menu a few instances a year to highlight new and exciting dishes, the restaurant will be able to take advantage of seasonal ingredients while they’re all at their highest quality and most reasonable price. In the food industry, flexibility itself is a rare commodity. If you are open to adjusting the menu, you’ll be able to keep your expenses down by purchasing some of the more abundant resources in the market. It’s also quite beneficial to have a seasonal menu for various reasons aside from food costs.
Should I purchase in bulk?
Yes and no. This is a perfect opportunity to exercise flexibility. Purchasing in bulk is a good way to combat a predetermined price increase and net yourself some discounts, however, you must also have it carefully planned out since you’ll never want to overstock. Also, consider joining a purchasing group if there’s one in your area. Their suppliers usually stock more and are also less inclined to increase their prices due to the sheer purchasing power within their circle.
Can I increase my price?
For most chefs, it’s either the last resort or it’s not part of the options at all. This is where all that talk about seasonal menu really comes into play. If you can adjust your menu—and there are several ways to do that—there’s a good chance that you won’t have to announce the dreaded price increase. If you absolutely cannot drop a certain dish off the board, you may tweak it a bit to include less expensive ingredients. Or, if you do end up changing the price tag, you might as well slightly switch things up to give a fresh take on the dish and give the customers a better reason to shed a couple more dollars.