As restaurant operators know, money is made at the back of the house. The steps you take to get a better handle on everything from portioning food to managing inventory translate into important savings. Adopting tools to monitor waste is a big one. Research from the Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that 22-33 billion pounds of food is wasted by restaurants every year, with about 7 percent of it wasted before it even reaches the customer. To get a better handle on how much food you’re wasting, you have to track all possible sources of it. A report from The Rail advises operators to have staff keep a log – ideally a mobile app connected with your inventory management software – of every instance of spills, misfires, burned or ruined orders, spoiled or expired ingredients, comped meals, theft, and scraps from paring, cutting or butchering. Patterns may emerge from this that allow you to zero in on the habits and practices that generate waste for you.
For many restaurants, the past few years have been a time of tech transformation. Restaurants that had the resources available to upgrade to modern POS systems and adopt other integrated technology in order to survive may not be looking to make additional significant investments in tech in the near future. Yet the landscape is always shifting and new tools are becoming available that promise to make business better and help operators work more efficiently. In a recent webcast with Nation’s Restaurant News, restaurant experts weighed in on some of the low-hanging fruit that operators can target if they’re looking to make incremental improvements. Some of the key suggestions included scheduling software (even something basic can improve employee flexibility and morale), software that aggregates online reviews and ensures you’re not leaving any unanswered ones dangling, and forecasting functionality that dovetails with your purchasing and ensures you’re minimizing waste where you can.