Optimizing Your Menu For Profitability: June 2017

30 May 2017

Every month we take a look at five ways in which you can address issues and respond to changes in the sector to remain profitable by optimizing your menu and kitchen.  Our observations and recommendations are based on our experience of consumer trends and preferences, industry developments and the introduction of new technologies and equipment to help boost your bottom line.

1. Summer Parts & Servicing

The average kitchen includes ranges, ovens, exhaust hoods, fryers, griddles, and other equipment.  That’s a lot of moving parts, and it’s difficult to keep on top of every piece of equipment at all times.  Wear and tear is inevitable.  If you haven’t conducted a preventative maintenance service in the past six months, it’s time to make your equipment a priority as summer hovers on the horizon.

 DSL Northwest Inc Observations:

You’re not alone, and too often we are called out to help customers who have allowed too long between service calls and find themselves with equipment that is ”down”.  Unplanned maintenance and equipment break-downs can cause a myriad of problems; from ruined ingredients, not being able to execute large sections of the menu and under-utilized staff.

Parts and service go hand-in-hand to help support your business. We stock over 10,000 items to ensure that you have the cleaners, supplies, products, and parts needed to keep your equipment up and running. Our parts inventory is also used to supplement our service trucks inventory to minimize down time as not all parts can be stocked on our trucks. Ask us about our auto shipment program for inexpensive wearing items on Taylor equipment so you don’t have to remember when you need to replace wearing parts like scraper blades and O-rings to make sure your equipment is running trouble free.


2. Summer Menus: A Fresh Approach

We know from the NRA Show 2017 this year that customer tastes are changing rapidly; the millennial generation and Generation Z are dancing to the beat of a new drum, and the foodservice needs to have a deeper understanding.

DSL Northwest Inc Observations:

Conduct a menu audit now and consider a blend of factors; keeping ingredients fresh, effective use of ingredients, sustainability and loss-leading legacy items. Introduce fresh dishes that respond to the new consumer including:

– Smaller dishes: create smaller and shareable dishes that respond to the rising trend in smaller portions and all-day snacking.  Introduce a separate snacking menu with maximum appeal rather than relying on existing appetizers.

– Seasonal items: create cost-effective dishes that utilize locally sourced ingredients.  As we know, the Pacific Northwest is a bounty for ingredients; from seafood and quality meats to fresh fruit and vegetables and a new customer is demanding them.

– Customization – Millennials and Generation Z are favoring the creation of their own food experiences that require menus to be more flexible.  This is a move away from previous generations who were happy to order off the menu with little debate!  Offer choices of protein combinations with side dishes and sauces and let them mix and match.

– Transparency: food is under a microscope like never before with the new generation of customers.  Interrogate dishes for their ingredient profiles and simplify ingredients where possible.  Consider allowing diners to view more of how their food is prepared with open kitchen concepts that allow them to feel part of the process.

– New Efficiencies – Conduct an equipment audit and look at upgrading to equipment that incorporates new advanced technology such as the 2-sided cooking systems from The Taylor Grill line.  Its microprocessor controls able it to be programmed for simplified cookline operation, reduced cooking times and improved quality end products saving on labor and increasing the front-of-house and kitchen’s overall efficiencies. Also talk to us about combination cooking systems that use convection and steam such as the LAINOX Combi Ovens that can utilize tablet like interfaces, pre-programmed cooking modes and HACCP controls.


3. Recruiting and Keeping Staff this Summer

According to research published in the January-February issue of Harvard Business Review, employees at high-trust companies experience 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days and 76% more engagement. Organizations that incorporate new ‘trust’ approaches to teams experience lower costs, due to reduced levels of recruitment, and increased profits through motivated teams that provide a better customer experience.

DSL NorthWest Inc Observations:

– A Labor Audit could reveal tasks that can be replaced by sourcing prepared ingredients, or utlilizing new technology and equipment that can free your teams up to do the more rewarding tasks.

– With the changes in the minimum wage and tip pooling, look at ensuring fairer wages for the front-of-house and kitchen staff  by incorporating gratuity into your menu; the customer pays a slightly higher menu price but no final service tip.

– Motivate teams through a blend of incentives, rewards, team treats, community involvement and training programs.  Show that you are committed to them through cost-effective methods that pay off in the longer term.  These methods require time, but it will be time wisely spent.

– Trust and delegation – invest in training senior managers and promote a sense of trust within the operation that can be diffused through the team naturally from the enthusiastic managers.  Providing them with a sense of pride in their job, and a significant job title, will deliver results freeing you up to focus on marketing and wider operational issues.


4. Coping With A Successful Summer

New figures show that the independent restaurant sector is outperforming chains according to Pentallect.  The company estimated 2016 sales of $210 billion for independent restaurants and small chains, while larger chains saw sales of $312 billion.  While success is sweet, expansion and the opening of new operations and venues are costly if not planned effectively.

 DSL NorthWest Inc Observations:

If capital is restricted, then leasing is an extremely viable option over other financial methods offering the following advantages.  Talk to one of the DSL Northwest Inc team members about how leasing can help you:

-Added credit availability.

-Bank credit lines are not affected which allows bank borrowing capacity for other needs.

-Conserves working capital financing.

-Equipment leasing can finance 100% of the equipment cost, leaving precious working capital for other needs.

-Facilitates cash flow.

-Equipment leasing allows the equipment to be paid for from income that is generated from its use.

-In many cases, equipment lease payments can be treated as a fully tax deductible expense.  (You should consult your CPA for your specific use.)

-The whole equipment leasing process is usually faster, simpler, and often less costly than other financing alternatives.


5. Driving Profits with New Ideas

Trends that are working across the USA show a variety of restaurants re-purposing existing menu offerings to deliver customers a new experience with maximum taste.  Currently, research and media features demonstrate that chicken continues to be a #1 favorite in all varieties, desserts are losing popularity in response to healthier and less calorific alternatives, and families are making vital dining-out decisions together.

 DSL NorthWest Inc Observations:

Incorporate the following into your menu to respond to trends and customer demands:

Be On Trend – add Genuine Broaster Chicken to your repertoire. Because it’s pressure fried, Genuine Broaster Chicken® is more tender and juicier, and tastes better than open-fried chicken. Pressure frying uses a sealed, pressurized environment, like a pressure cooker, in which foods are cooked. Pressure frying seals in more of the foods’ natural flavors and seals out more of the oil.

Dessert Alternatives – Add in ‘sippables’ from the bar and introduce to restaurant diners; dessert cocktails—liquid, spirit-infused versions of decadent treats—have grown in popularity with diners. Boozy Milk Shakes are another avenue to explore incorporating locally brewed beers or name brand spirits. Be part of the trend that takes the pressure off the kitchen while driving easy margins.

Non-alcoholic cocktails – the generation is increasingly swapping alcoholic drinks for non-alcoholic, but they still demand all the taste of a sophisticated cocktail. Investigate new technology to deliver flavor and variety such as the MagnaBlend PRO-Revolutionary Blender.  Automated mixing from up to 8 refrigerated flavor mixes, integrated touchscreen, ice dispenser, storage & rinse station for quick service with touchscreen for simple ordering makes this a favorite with high footfall restaurants and bars.

Entice the family – engender loyalty with families by offering the small touches such as a free cone, smoothie or sherbet; talk to us about Taylor soft serve machines and batch freezers that are flexible enough to accommodate any application. Or, for the kids, add an extra sizzle factor with Flavor Burst; an innovative way to add multiple flavors to a soft serve, shake, frozen carbonated beverage, or slush program.

Cooling off – provide customers with a refreshing alternative to regular iced tea or coffee with Fusion Frozen Tea- the freshly brewed, naturally caffeinated ice tea slush beverage.


Call us on 877-665-1125 to discuss your options in a free consultation with a DSL NorthWest expert.