Serving up the savings: cuttings costs for restaurant owners

Money saving advice is welcomed by everyone these days and restaurant owners are no exception. The good news is that there are a lot of quick steps that you can take to save money. From changing the layout of your menu to adding a Perspex sheet to your table cloths, together with The Plastic People, we provide some handy tips:

Energy saving

The first area that you should look at when trying to save money in your restaurant is your energy use. In the short term, you may not see the implications of making energy saving changes, but it all adds up and every saving helps.

Start with your lightbulbs — by switching to energy saving lightbulbs this can save you around £15 per lightbulb per year. Make sure that you only switch lights on when they are needed too – switch lights off in storage rooms when they are not being used, for instance, and only turn the lights on in the restaurant when customers arrive. Energy efficient light bulbs cost around 50p per hour to run. If your business is open from 10am-9pm, the bulb in the storage room will be costing you £5.50 a day, that’s around £2,000 per year! Compare this to if they were kept on for only one hour out of the day where this cost would fall to around £180 per year.

You could invest in sense lights for your toilets as well, which only come on when a visitor enters the bathroom to save on unnecessary energy costs.

By training your staff appropriately, this can help with cutting costs too. Teach them to turn off lights, only run the dishwasher when it is full and use cold water when hot isn’t needed – implementing an energy saving culture throughout will help with its success.

Another way to save on energy is to install low flow faucets and toilets; an initiative that also saves water in the long term.

Your table cloths

One way that restaurants often waste money is through their table cloths. Changing material table cloths after each customer leaves can be time consuming and costly on the washing machine front. Often the gleaming white fades too, meaning that you have to purchase a new batch. One way to overcome this is fitting your tables with a Perspex (acrylic sheet). The plastic sheets have a high gloss surface, can be cut to the size that you need and are easily cleaned with warm soapy water.

Understandably, this is not applicable for all businesses but in many cases, this is a good alternative to changing your table cloths excessively.

Food waste

Another consideration that you should make is the amount of food waste that you are producing.

A report revealed that around 21% of waste from UK restaurants comes from spoilage – suggesting that food isn’t being ordered according to demand. Unavoidable food waste already costs restaurants 97p per meal served, restaurants should be doing all that they can to prevent this cost from rising. This can be done by reviewing stock management levels and organising existing inventory before ordering more.

Another 34% of waste comes from customer plates. Is there opportunity for you to adapt the size of your portions? Introduce a children’s portion alongside small and large adult sizes. This should prevent wastage as people should order according to their appetite.

Your online presence

As you’re probably familiar with, a strong online presence is key to the success of many businesses in the modern day.

Some of the following tips require initial investment, but you will very likely reap the benefits by doing so.

First of all, ensure that your website is mobile friendly. When researching restaurants nearby, visitors are using their phones to find out more information and have a look at the available menus. If your website is incompatible with mobiles and tablets, it eliminates it from their consideration set of potential eateries. You should also make sure that users can reserve tables online instead of coming into the restaurant or calling online – users can do this at work instead as a time-saver.

Being active on social media is equally as important. Engage with customers through competitions where you can encourage users to share your post and tag their friends to win a free meal. Although you are giving away free food, it is unlikely that they will visit on their own and they will be purchasing drinks and perhaps other courses while they and their guest(s) are there.

When people are in your restaurant, encourage them to check in and make sure that your meals look aesthetically pleasing and photogenic – food selfies are the new big thing and people love to show off what they’re eating.

Often, before visiting a restaurant, people check reviews on sites such as Facebook and TripAdvisor. It was reported that 80% of people read the first 6-12 reviews before they make a decision to book a table at a restaurant. Monitor these reviews and respond to any criticism responsibly; you could offer them a free dessert next time they visit and write back saying how you have taken their comments on board.

Your menu

Your menu is the heart and soul of your business and it should be designed to be your greatest money maker.

In the US, research revealed that a restaurant can gain $1,000 dollars in net profit simply by changing the position of dishes on the menu. Eye-tracking experts found that the middle of a single-page menu is where most people’s eyes automatically go when making a decision on which meal to purchase. Calculate the profits made off each meal and ensure that your most profitable dishes are in this position to maximise revenue.

Think about what dishes are seldom ordered too — can these be removed from the menu? Dishes like these cost you money as you are purchasing ingredients for them but often these ingredients then get wasted. Try replacing this dish with another and see if that one is more popular.