Whether you are a newbie, fresh out of college, or a salty, grizzled veteran used to the long hours and stressful atmosphere of the food industry, there is one thing everyone can agree on. Running a restaurant or food service business is expensive! The building costs money, whether you're renting or you own it, increase that cost by the number of stores you run. Your licenses cost money, and you better stay up on those, or you could face some huge fines. Hiring and training employees is a major, but necessary cost, unless you plan to do everything yourself. Good luck with that! How about advertising? Even just a sign out on the sidewalk is going to cost you. And then, of course, there's the food. What kind of restaurant would you be running if you forgot to budget for food?
We talk lightheartedly about the subject, but it's no joke. The harsh reality is that if you can't budget properly, your restaurant will fail. It might take months or even years, but its downfall is inevitable if you can't get a handle on your cost of doing business. You don't need to be a Mr. Scrooge about every dime, but you should have some methods in place to help you and your employees reduce waste, work more efficiently, and save money where you can.
Recipe costing is one way to ensure you don't overspend, and it's something every restaurant manager should know how to do. But, did you know that recipe costing software can be used for more than just figuring out how much each bowl of tomato soup costs you? Ordering apps might have started out with one job in mind, but clever managers know how to get double-duty out of everything. Here are some tips on getting more out of your recipe costing software, without any added expenses.
You read that right. Why just leave your recipe costing software sitting unused between financial checks? It's wasteful—software with that kind of flexibility should be put to work. If you're already inputting all of your ingredients and recipes into the recipe costing software, it means you're already partially done with your inventory management. Use the software to complete your recipe costing duties, but then look at it as a way to help track inventory.
If you don't want to use it for all your inventory needs, at the very least sync it up with your other inventory apps and let them find inconsistencies. Think of it as a backup security camera. If your main inventory app and your recipe costing app's numbers don't match, you know there's an issue. Having both your inventory app and your ordering app on duty will make it much easier to find the problem and fix it.
This isn't some silly tagline to make you smile. The fact is, recipe costing software isn't just able to tell you what's happening right now; it can just as easily tell you what will happen if you give it some figures to play with. Think a sale is coming up on an ingredient you use a lot of? Run those numbers and see how your profits will increase. Want to lower your costs without affecting your bottom line? You can try those numbers out, too, all without making any real changes and risking bankruptcy.
Test out new or modified recipes before you buy any ingredients—just run the numbers, make adjustments, and then try them out in person. Since you ran your numbers first, you know that adding ½ a teaspoon less garlic to your signature dish will save you $800 a year for that recipe alone, and diners can't tell the difference. Without ordering software, this trial and error would have taken a long time, and likely you'd have made some costly mistakes along the way, simply because you're human.
This is one of those situations where keeping impeccable records will work in your favor. It's no fun digging through old files and dusty boxes, so get your app running, make some reports, and store those in the cloud. When it comes time to place orders again, whip out your app and compare current prices to past costs. See an inconsistency? One of your suppliers may have slightly raised their prices. Even if it's just an increase of a penny per lemon, if you buy 500 lemons every month, that's going to add up quickly by the end of the year.
Once you figure out where the inconsistency is, you can use your records to ask the supplier to give you the old rate. They can, of course, decline, but having the records on hand, at the tap of a finger, can help sway them to your side. After all, they want your business, and if you're willing to squabble over a penny increase, they'll realize how serious you are about your business.
There are more ways to expand the usefulness of recipe costing apps, but the three discussed here are the biggest ways that are often overlooked. None of these tips will take much extra time, and they won't cost a penny more (unlike those lemons).
If you're a fan of technology, or you just really like to find new ways to cut costs and improve efficiency, you might consider checking out some other productivity apps. Some of them aren't directly related to finances—like task checklist apps, staff scheduling software, and food safety compliance apps—but adding them to your business can and will save money.
Since this article was focusing primarily on ordering and recipe costing software, why not take a look at another article about proper inventory management that might interest you? Check out our article on “How to Choose the Best Inventory Control Software for Small Businesses” also on the Hubworks Blog to learn more about selecting the right inventory management tool(s) for your business!