Any advice or tips for reducing overhead in a small restaurant? Obviously I know no brainers like not wasting water, shutting off equipment whenever possible etc. etc. I can't change fixed costs like rent but we need to cut some overhead a little with winter coming, heating a place in a New England winter is expensive! Any advice guys?
Tips for Reducing Overhead?
We save a lot of money by changing our lighting. Call your electric company and ask them to do a power audit for you.
Their suggestions have helped us a lot.
Also, replace worn gaskets on all your refrigeration. It's a small cost, but does wonders for your power bill.
@foodnfoto agree with the energy audit, in the NE it may be your gas company, hopefully they will have programs/incentives that may allow for weather proofing or rebates on Energystar appliances.
E.g., in S Fla FPL was financing instant on tankless high efficiency water heaters for 0% for a small charge on your monthly bill, PLUS during the 5 years of the financing they also extended the warranty period for the life of the financing which was an extra 4 years!
Have to state the obvious about food waste, excessive menu items etc. Also we have seasons both in NC and S FL that are juxtaposed.
In summer we scale down in S FL and scale up in NC, and the opposite is true now. The other thing we looked at was highlighting catering during the respective "off seasons".
An energy audit is a great idea.
You can also look around for drafty areas around windows and doors and seal the window off with the plastic sheeting they sell in every hardware store. Great Stuff foam is very useful. Any place where two different materials meet on exterior walls is a possible opening. Between the foundation and building and around vents and pipes.
The older your building, the more likely there are unseen areas where air is escaping or getting in. Small cracks and openings can have a big effect. Check on which areas are insulated or should be.
Putting timers and motion detectors on the lights in the bathrooms and storage areas can make it easier to insure those are kept off when not in use.
Not just shutting things off but unplugging them can make a difference.
Make sure the evaporator/ condenser fins on all your refrigeration are clean. This will have a big impact on how hard the compressor works and how much energy you use.
If you don't already have one, a double entry or at least a wind break of some kind on all exits/entrances is great for shutting off the wind effect and preventing heat loss when people enter or exit.
Last, I would take a fresh view of those situations you take for granted and consider "normal" activities. The walk-in is a big one. Do you have plastic curtain strips on the walk-in? Is there an automatic door closer? How many times and for how long is the door left open during operating hours?
Do you leave more than one coffee warmer on even though there is only one pot of coffee?
If you have a sauté station, does the cook leave burners on even when there is not food cooking? I have seen this happen too often over the years. This is typically because the pilot lights do not work correctly and in the middle of service it is easier to leave the burner going than to have to relight it during a rush so a lot of gas gets burned for no real reason. It is worth getting the pilots fixed.
What is your dish machine situation, lease or own, low or high temp? How many sheet pans can you fit in at one time? If you have an old style pre-rinse spray noozle replace it with a new energy efficient one which can cut water usage by 50-75% which is no small peanuts when you consider that pre-rinsing typically uses twice as much water as the dish machine uses per cycle. Pre-rinse and scrape with cold water as the machine will take care of any grease. If you have a disposal, don't use it, huge waste of water. Install removable screens in the bottom of the sinks. Educate your staff along these lines.
What is your water heater situation, on demand or storage? Insulation around heater, timer, moving as close to dish machine as possible, wrapping outlet pipes, all of these help to reduce energy waste.
How about your ice machines, are they single pass cooling? If so modify to use a recirculating system. Also air cooled units use less energy than water cooled.
I have a couple of things I'd like opinions on if you don't mind.
First is towel, apron, mop head and mat rentals. What do you folks do? My rental bill is very high and I'm looking at how to decrease it. Don't know if buying towels and washing them myself or buying mats and cleaning them myself is the answer, but it does seem to make some sense. I just don't think I could get them as clean as the linen company does, is the thing. Regarding mop heads, a new 24oz. one costs about $6 to buy, I think, where I pay about 2.50 for the mop head service. Again, how to clean these things is a question.
The second is about how a very large menu negatively affects costs. It seems that as long as waste is kept in line it shouldn't matter, but I always hear about how it adds to cost. I'd love to hear pros and cons and opinions on this.
A couple of thoughts.
CLean your own mop heads by spraying them out with a garden hose after soaking them. How many do you buy that it is worth renting them?
While a mop is a necessary tool for the odd spill, you can also clean the floor by scrubbing with soapy water and using a wet/dry vac to remove the water. I have done this for years and it works great.
How many mats do you need for what and how often do they need to be cleaned? Entrance mats can be cleaned once or twice a week. Kitchen mats every day but both can be done with a garden hose and spray attachment.
As for large menus, I'll offer my opinion.
Even with a large staff and large customer base, not all the ingredients for that menu can be made fresh or used up before they spoil. So it is obvious that a fair portion of the menu will have to use pre made, packaged products. That is not to say that all pre made products are bad, some are quite good quality but the larger the menu, the more of them will be present.
Then consider the time it takes for someone to check in the large delivery, or multiple small deliveries, put the stores away, and all the space required for all the numerous products that may or may not be used immediately. If a large menu uses all fresh ingredients, extra labor is required to produce the final products for each menu item before losing their fresh quality, presuming of course that every menu item is being ordered all the time, a highly unlikely scenario.
If you have a POS, it is easy and advisable to run a sales report often. Those items that do not sell often are taking up time from your employees in receiving them, putting them away as well as valuable storage space in dry goods, refrigeration and freezer, in effect costing you money to have them on hand with no immediate return on investment.
So a smaller menu of items that sell consistently can use more fresh goods. More rapid turnover with fewer products means less storage required, lower investment costs and lower labor costs.