Though restaurants and other food services fall under the "retail" label, they can't follow the same advice and tips as other retail stores. That's because handling food for patrons is often a life or death situation, and regular financing and inventory software just isn't cut out for that kind of pressure.
One key area that food services need to pay attention to that other retail stores don't is food costing. While it is true that you can do food costing duties without specialized software, you are opening your business up to more mistakes that can do more harm than simply overspending on food. Humans make mistakes; there's no way around that. However, you can minimize the impact of those mistakes by getting the right software on your side.
If you haven't tried out food costing software yet, or you're still shopping around before you settle on one, this article is for you. We'll explore the top 3 benefits of using modern food costing software, and how it saves you money.
Nobody expects managers and owner-operators to be able to rattle off their exact expenses at the drop of a hat, but wouldn't it be nice if you could? Thanks to technology and mobile devices, now you can! With the right food costing software in your hands, you can find out how much those fresh chicken breasts cost you, if you might be able to find a better price elsewhere, and how it will all affect your bottom line. You won't have to wait until you're back in the office, either. Since food costing software, like Zip Ordering, is mobile-friendly, you can run all your numbers while standing at your supplier's warehouse, at home, or anywhere else you happen to be.
Before we explain how food costing software can save you money, we first must understand what food costing is. Food costing, in simple terms, is all about figuring out how much each meal on your menu costs, per diner. That number is going to fluctuate, so you'll want to do food costing at least once a month in areas where the prices fluctuate a lot. You can probably do it once every three months in more stable locations. No matter how often you do it, be sure you're accurate. That means you have to factor in the main ingredients and even the condiments and spices, as well as the garnishes. It sounds tedious, right? It is, but that's where food costing software comes into play.
1. Inventory Control Apps Get You Started on the Right Foot
Using inventory control apps will get you started on the right foot, with accurate numbers, making the math of food costing so much easier. If you're running a good inventory app, and you've set up your categories properly, you should have no problem filtering out all the non-food and non-recipe items, leaving only the edible bits and things that go on the plate. It’s even better if your inventory control app lets you separate your inventory into recipes as well as categories and locations.
If your recipes are already set up in your inventory app, the food costing software has less work to do, which means faster results. Win-win! Make sure the two apps play nice together, and you'll avoid any slowdowns and frustrations. If you're not using an inventory app, however, you'll need to enter everything into your food costing software for this step. It might be time-consuming, but at least it's not handwritten on paper. One of the benefits, even if you don't have inventory software, is that you'll only need to enter ingredients once. Anytime you need to use the same thing (like salt, or lemon slices), you can just copy and paste it over to the next recipe. That alone saves hours of research and work.
2. Complicated Math Made Easy
Adding and subtracting aren’t complicated concepts, but doing so over and over, for every item on your menu, once a month or so…well, you can see how the tedium might be hard to handle. After a while, the numbers start to blur together, and that's when mistakes happen. We're sure we don't need to remind you how one math mistake can snowball out of control and do a lot of damage down the line. At the same time, it's inefficient to split your food costing duties up over the course of days or weeks. That slowdown could be costing you extra money every single day.
Food costing apps, on the other hand, will be able to handle all of your math with ease and in an instant. You can even use the app to try out different scenarios. Maybe you already know you pay $3 per gallon of milk. But, wouldn't it be nice to know what your per meal costs would be if you could find milk for $2.60 a gallon? Food costing apps let you play with numbers and try out new situations, all in seconds and without costing you a penny. Paper sheets take too much time, and they don't pay off.
3. Cloud Storage Means Accessible Logs Forever
With in-office space at a premium, you can't afford to waste precious room storing boxes and file cabinets full of old food costing reports. At the same time, you really shouldn't toss them, either. What if you needed to look at last year's promo on chili so you can figure out the name of that butcher on the other side of town? Digging through all those papers are going to take time, and storing them is expensive.
If you use a food costing app, as opposed to a manual method, you'll be able to filter your search by date, time, item type, and menu item, just to name a few. That's instant answers at your fingertips and no extra costs for storing old files. Download your reports to store on backup drives, if you want, but cloud storage is safe and secure, and you can access it anywhere. This is especially helpful if you're already at the butcher's shop and you think he's trying to charge you more than last time. A tap and swipe, and you've got your old reports. It's a great bargaining tool!
Thankfully, these convenient, time saving, food cost software apps aren't always expensive. Some of them, like Hubworks' own Zip Inventory and Zip Ordering, come with free trials, no contracts, and low monthly payments designed with small to medium businesses in mind.
For information about other business solutions by Hubworks specifically designed with small to medium businesses in mind, check out our “Small Business Solutions Your Competition is Already Using” article also in the Hubworks Blog!