If you own, manage, or lead the kitchen of any food service, you know that restaurants rely on in-depth planning in order to make a profit. Restaurants are full of situations that could spiral into chaos if not handled appropriately. When chaos occurs—and it inevitably will—your restaurant could be faced with a sudden shortage of food that demands an emergency order from your distributor.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do to help streamline your restaurant’s services, such as:
Committing to in-house prep work
Cutting out costly pre-made food orders
Auditing your inventory by shifts
Better portioning your individual menu items
What these strategies fail to address, however, are the bigger and often daunting problems that can come from calculating the true costs of your produce purchases from broadline distributors over time. Once you take a closer look at your expenses and the inconveniences that come from working with a huge distributor, you may want to consider a local option.
The tips above are useful and valuable, but when it comes to saving money, working with a local produce distributor can be one of the best options at your disposal.
Low Drop Minimums
Keeping inventory helps, but it’s how you do so that could help you cut down on unnecessary costs in the future. Par inventory management is a method of inventory for restaurants where they base their ordering off of average—or “par for the course”—amounts of each individual item. This helps you establish low drop minimums.
The first thing you want to consider for your low drop minimums is how often you get every single item delivered, as some foods don’t need to be reordered every day or even every week. Next, track how much of each ordered item is depleted between deliveries for each option on your menu. What you’re left with will be your par order amount.
Now that you have an accurate estimate for your next order, you can fill out an inventory sheet. This is just a simple spreadsheet organized by each individual food item, the par level number you calculated, the amount you currently have in-house, your emergency supply par, and your special event par.
Those last two may change depending upon your needs or the size and scope of your emergency or catered event. Your equation to solve for the next order of food is to add up all your current par numbers and then subtract the number of items you currently have in stock. The end result is a very accurate and up to date number that allows you to avoid under or over ordering.
Getting orders can often help you keep the shelves full and possibly save you in a pinch. Huge corporate distributors will often make business owners purchase those minimum orders that they can’t afford or properly handle. With a smaller, local distributor, you’ll be able to solve these issues by ordering smaller quantities more frequently.
How frequent should your orders be though? That’s something that is going to be dramatically different between various food services based on the size of their business. Larger food services like cafeterias, college dining halls, or large event centers will have an easier time handling huge shipments of produce at once because they may actually go through all of that product before it expires.
But even those larger clients run into situations where they just don’t have enough produce coming from their broadline supplier. They also may be paying more depending upon what times and days their orders are delivered. A smaller distributor can help you avoid shipping on peak days or during busy, money-making hours.
Frequent orders and deliveries also mean getting to know your supplier more. You will build a relationship better with a smaller, local distributor than with a huge chain supplier. This could come in handy if your fridge dies and you have to throw out an entire shipment of meat. Your trusted local distributor may be what keeps your business open that day if they can come through with an emergency shipment.
Work With Experts
Business owners take personal pride in their work. That’s something Native Maine has in common with our clients. Our people have seen it all and they’re proud of their many experiences that have shaped our company to be so successful.
Dealing with inventory and new orders can be a difficult task, but it’s not one you have to worry about on your own. Let one of our Native Maine Produce & Specialty Foods experts handle your concerns and help solve some ordering issues.