Many times, when discussing food cost, a high food cost can be blamed on the chef’s inability to do their job properly. Sometimes this is accurate, but more often than not, they are not the only ones to blame. Diagnosing the costing issues in a restaurant are never black and white, and margins are no different. Generally, it is a series of different issues that together add up to a concerning metric. Let’s look at how improper ordering and receiving can lead to a terrible food cost. Through this series we hope to give you some ideas you may not have previously thought of, and to love a cook named Brad and hate a guy named Chad.
1. Not inspecting product
A common issue that many kitchens face is not inspecting product upon delivery. Inspecting product is more than making sure the right product came in; you also need to inspect everything for quality and yield. Often times, you order product, it comes in, and your cook, Chad, just throws it in storage without actually looking at anything in the order. Brad is aware that every box that comes in has to be inspected for quality and rotated into storage. As you’ll soon find out, Chad’s negligence will hit you right in the pocketbook. That night you walk into the walk-in to grab some cilantro, and find a case of cilantro sludge. You know what I’m talking about, that vile, swappy herb sludge that develops when herbs haven’t been stored properly. You ask who put the order away and of course, it’s Chad. You assign Chad to deck brushing the kitchen as punishment. Chad is terrible. Unfortunately, this punishment does not fix the fact that you are now out of cilantro.
2. Poorly Managing Credits
So you call your vendor for a credit. You argue with him for 10 minutes, and then send him a picture of the sludge and provide him with a few choice adjectives to describe him and his company, and he finally, reluctantly, agrees to provide you with a credit. As you triumphantly strut back into the kitchen, pleased with your clever selection of wording, you forget to write it down on the invoice. Your vendor never issues the credit, and your bookkeeper is none the wiser. Congratulations, you just paid for rotten cilantro!
3. Running to the store
You now realize that you don’t have the cilantro you need for service. You look at Chad, grumpily cleaning the floor. You hand him your credit card and order him to head out to the supermarket to grab some cilantro. 15 minutes later he comes back later with 5 bunches of parsley, and no receipt. It is at this moment, that an image pops into your head of causing physical harm to Chad. Hitting him with the cast iron pan on the table to your left, and throwing his lifeless body in a dumpster never to be seen again. You slowly exhale, just as your therapist taught you to. You send Chad back to cleaning the floors, but this time handing him a wire brush to clean the grout. You send your trusted cook Brad, who can identify the difference between the two green leafy herbs, back to the store with your card. He comes back later, with the cilantro in hand, and a receipt: $2.99 a bunch!? That’s how much you pay for a case! It doesn’t matter at this point; you needed it.
This is a prime example of how one little case of negligence can multiply into a massive loss:
Case of Cilantro: $4.99
5 Bunches of Parsley: $14.95
5 Bunches of Cilantro $14.95
Store run Payroll $30
More blood pressure medication: priceless
Total Loss: 64.89
Cilantro, is a low cost item, but this type of mistake isn’t small. It has the ability to multiply into an expensive dilemma. Think of how much this would cost your business if it was Ribeye, Avocados, or Oysters. This type of mistake could cost you hundreds. Running to the store is an easy way to move your food cost up significantly.
All in all, if Chad had just looked in the case of cilantro to make sure it was in good shape, you would be $60 richer and you could have avoided this issue altogether. As you lock the door and walk into the parking lot to head home you reflect on the day, and whether you should outsource hiring, because you were certain that Chad had a lot of potential. The fact that he couldn’t tie his apron should have been a sign.
Save yourself the trouble of managing credits by utilizing our bookkeeping service, which includes an automated way to issue credit requests to vendors, so you can hold vendors accountable.