Business Insights

Top Ways to Achieve Labor Savings & Cost Control

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Reducing labor needs and cutting costs can put you on the path to profitability. Here are some tips and tricks from our team of culinary & restaurant industry experts.

8 Ways to Cut Costs

"Be open minded about labor-saving methods like pre-cut produce, fresh-frozen products and premade products. Scratch kitchens will be harder to make profitable."Ryan Elmore, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist, New Mexico.

1. Track food costs

"The best way to enhance profitability is to know your actual food cost numbers and inventory," Elmore says. "If you can save on food cost by managing inventory well, you might not need to raise prices as much."

2. Employ plus-one and speed-scratch techniques

"You don't need nine products to make a signature dish," says Jeff Pivin, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist, Arizona. Pivin tells of an operator who crated a popular signature dessert simply by bruleeing a Brickfire Bakery cheesecake. "Start with a high-quality baseline product, add to it, and make it your own."

"Determine what absolutely needs to be homemade," Pivin adds.

3. Buy seasonally

These items offer value and economy.

4. 86 freebies

Or charge for bread baskets, chips, etc. Serve water only on request.

5. Adapt

"Be able to pivot quickly if a certain protein or commodity has a sharp rise in prices," Elmore says. "Be quick to pull items that aren't profitable."

6. Monitor bus tubs

Seeing heaps of uneaten food on plates headed for the dishwasher? Reduce portions.

7. Cross-utilize.

"We will see more operators finding continued efficiencies through cross-utilization and repurposing strategies," says Bo Bryant, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant. For example, pre-portioned beef that can be used for dumplings or stew.

8. Create specs

Cost out how many cream-cheese packets get served with bagels, the number of napkins to pack with takeout orders, etc.

"Only the hardest-working, most profitable, easy to execute items that use readily available ingredients should be on the menu."Jim Hargrove, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant

Profitability By The Numbers

of operators reduced portion sizes
of operators reduced menu size
of operators eliminated a day part

3 Ways to Ease the Strain On Labor

"Finding products that can take away unnecessary prep tasks is very important right now."Chef Thomas Vigil, Shamrock Foods Branch Chef, CO

    Employees with multiple skills open up options for operating with reduced staff in a tight labor market.


    "Do fewer things on your menu and do them better," advises Jim Hargrove, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant. "Having a smaller, tighter menu also helps with BOH burnout/turnover and FOH applications. Servers would rather learn a 40-item menu than a 125-item menu." Hargrove adds, if you feel you must offer "brand ambassador" items that require more elaborate prep and have a higher food cost but which also drive traffic, consider running them once a week on slower days or as LTOs.


    Custom-cut proteins such as steaks from Gold Canyon Meat CO. and fish from Pier 22 Seafood CO. arrive in cryovac packaging, offer 100% yield and are ready to go without the need to put a knife to them, advises Tim Maness, Shamrock Foods Business Review Specialist, Colorado. Pretrimmed, pre-cut, ready-to-use produce from Ready-Set-Serve by Markon provides consistent quality and results.

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Profitability Tools & Tips

"Cleaning brussel sprouts is time-consuming and passing them through a mandoline is a potential hazard for inexperienced staff. The cost difference between the two is negligible, and there are savings without labor."Jeff Koppel, Shamrock Foods Branch Sous Chef, Colorado.

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