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How to Identify and Control Costs in a Restaurant


The inability to control the costs of food in a restaurant might be one of the reasons the business wouldn’t flourish. You want to strike a balance between providing quality food and maintaining excellent customer service.

One of the strategies to control restaurant food costs is by lowering the quantity or portions of food served to customers. This comes in handy when the price of food continues to soar. Yet, that is not all there is to regulating the food ratio. In this article, you will learn other ways to control costs in a restaurant.

1. Cut Down on Manpower Dependency

Depending on manpower for most of the services offered at the restaurant could be a major reason for increasing costs of running the business. Consider cutting down on manpower dependency and replacing it with something substantial.

These are some of the options you have:

Introduce Online Table Booking

Rather than wait for customers to queue up and have to wait for long hours, consider introducing online table booking. The idea is to help the customers place orders for food or book for a table if they prefer eating in.

The online table booking option can either be hosted on your restaurant’s website or a third-party platform.

2. Identify the Sales Pattern

Keeping an eye on the sales pattern can also be a way to reduce excessive expenses in your restaurant. The idea is to check and compare the records of your previous sales with the current ones. The turnover in the last couple of months gives you an idea of the likely revenue to expect in the coming months.

How to Do Sales Forecasting

You will be largely successful at making an accurate forecast of your restaurant’s sale pattern if you consider the following:

  • The Time of the Year: The time of the year can help you find out when the sales will pick up and sales would likely drop. For example, you will most likely make more sales during seasonal events like Valentine’s Day and Christmas.
  • Food Prepping: Understand that some foods will sell faster than others would. Peep into the previous sales and see some of the foods on the menu that “sold out” more than the others did.

3. Implement Measures Against Pilferage

If your staff is stealing from your restaurant, either the food or money, it could hurt your operational costs. Cutting down on pilferage activities might not be easy to do, but you can attempt it.

Here are helpful tips:

Check Every Order

Always make time to go through the inventories or hire someone trusted to do that. Check every food order that comes into the restaurant and be sure that the order is fulfilled.

In the same vein, take note of the raw materials delivered to the restaurant and make sure they are recorded. This way, it will be easier to know when something is missing.

Warn the Staff Against Pilfering

It is also imperative to advise the staff to steer clear of pilfering. They should also seek permission from the right sources before taking any of the raw materials.

Also Read: Complete Management of Your Restaurant Through a Restaurant POS

4. Be Mindful of the Food Portions

The portions of food served also play an important role in the controlling costs in a restaurant. Note that this doesn’t mean maximizing profits at the expense of serving customers the worth of their money.

Here is a better way to regulate the food portion at your restaurant:

Serve the Right Amount of Food

Be consistent with serving the right amount of food. If the cost of food increases, you can consider reducing the portion. But if the food costs reduce, you can increase the portion.

Also, watch out for some of the signs that let you know that you may have been serving oversized portions of food all this while. These signs include:

  • When more plates are returned with leftover food.
  • If more customers request that some portion of the food be packaged as a takeaway.

5. Control Costs in a Restaurant by Budgeting for Food

Without making a budget, you may just be spending money that wouldn’t be accounted for. Thus, always make a budget for the raw materials to be purchased for the restaurant.

I think these ideas can help you do that:

Highlight the Cost of the Recipe

The cost of purchasing the recipe for making the recipe should be considered because it all adds up to the total cost of preparing the meal.

Make a Thorough Market Research Ahead of Every Purchase

Always make market research to get an idea of the current costs of raw materials. This can help you draw up a conclusive budget.

Make an Inclusive Budget

By inclusive budget, I mean a budget that includes the costs of purchasing the needed raw materials, as well as additional costs, such as transportation.


Take the time to go through your restaurant’s records to find out the major expenses made each month. Check to see if those expenses can be minimized and if possible, channel some of the extra funds to other aspects of running the restaurant. I am sure you will discover some of the practices that have been sinking your funds, cut down on them, and prevent excessive wastage of money for years to come.

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CHUKWUKADIBIA ABAH is a passionate freelance writer and contributor to the Entrepreneur Business Blog. You can follow him on: Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/ChukwukadibiaAbah1/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Chukwukadibia01 LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chukwukadibiaabah/ Instagram: https://instagram.com/chukwukadibia_abah


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