Who we are following

No matter how long you’ve been in this business, it’s energizing to learn and connect with what’s new. We’re guessing you don’t have time to scour the internet either. That’s what we’re here for!

Today’s tip:

The James Beard Foundation Why? Because they run Chef’s Boot Camp for Policy and Change. It’s how members of the food service industry can make their mark.

From their website (see link above):

The Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change provides a unique opportunity for civically and politically minded chefs to become more effective leaders for food-system change. During thematic retreats around the country, participants receive advocacy and media training while learning about important issues, challenges, and opportunities facing the food world. The goal is to build a growing network of like-minded chefs, provide support for personal interests and passions, and give tools and guidance that will help them act as influential advocates.

Back of the House and food costing

You need superpowers if you are in the food service business. No doubt about that.

And you need tools to help you acheive that superpower status!

There are thousands of apps out there, so how do you sift through everything to find the most useful ones for you?

That’s why we read blogs! With that in mind I’d like to share this link to Zapier’s blog post

10 Unsung Apps that Help You Write Better, Organize Work and Track Progress.

Learning about even one app that can relieve you of some responsibility or make remembering an easier task is a boon to your workday.

Automating your task the CostGuard way

Do you run the same reports and processes over and over. We”, that was a rhetorical question. We know you do!

And we’d like to streamline that process for you.

Would you like to set these reports and process up to run on a regular schedule?

Do you import your POS data into the CostGuard Sales Mix? You can schedule this to run overnight, every night if you wish.

Want to import your order guides? Or run a variance report so it’s waiting for you in the morning?

With CG-Automator you can create the following tasks in CostGuard to process any time using Windows Scheduler. We show you how to set use Windows Scheduler, and how to associate it with a CostGuard Task.

CostGuard Food Costing Software Tech support – we knew we were responsive but…

now we have the statistics to prove it!!

Do other companies make you wait 23.5 hours for an answer to your tech support question?

Well we’ve beat that by 23 hours!!

Zendesk results

Zendesk2

OK, while we can’t guarantee that we’ll answer every question immediately (remember we do take the weekends off) we are here 9am-6pm EST Monday through Friday and we do try to be as responsive as humanly possible.

New to the restaurant business? CostGuard can help!

Here at CostGuard we often get questions about the particulars of running a restaurant. We do have a great restaurant consultant on our staff, and he’d like to share some of his knowledge with anyone who is new to the business:

In the beginning you’re working 16 hours a day just to make sure that you have food and drink for your customers. You don’t trust any of your staff enough yet to leave them alone while you do what feels like bullshit office work, and if you get too bogged down in minutiae, you sacrifice the quality of your product.

After a month or so, you’ll find that your crew can handle the kitchen alone and you have time to escape to the office. All of a sudden, everything that you used to think of as bullshit paper pushing (all that food costing and inventory control) becomes important, and you start to think of the actual food preparation as grunt work. But that can only happen if you build a solid business first. And that starts on the floor and in the kitchen.

Are you totally new to the foodservice business? The only way somebody with no experience succeeds in this business (or any business) is if he hires pros and stays out of their way. We can help you with that!!

Taking Inventory Counts in a Restaurant

We are often asked how frequently to take counts (and how often other restaurants do it)

Here is a note from one of CostGuard’s young, yet super experienced clients. He’s been in the restaurant business for about 10 years, having worked at high end places in New York City. Now he owns his own restaurant:

Bars count between each shift because the bar is where money and product most easily disappear. You need to know who’s paycheck to take those 5 shots of vodka out of.

In the kitchen, count your lobsters, rib-eyes, and Dover soles every night. If you get hung up on counting every sauce every day and then worry about why you have 3 eggs fewer than your ideal, you’ll go crazy for no reason.

My advice to new operators is to count but also to compare your invoices to sales to get a rough food cost.

The main focus should be on sending out a great product that keeps people coming back. It’s much easier to systemize a popular business than to popularize a systemized one.

After that, you want to do a rough count every night to prepare your orders. I think a full count once a month is fine, and if you start seeing excess waste, you do it more often to pinpoint the problem. On the other hand lots of operators do their full kitchen count every week or even every night!

Another operator we work with who has 5 locations does a count every Sunday night.

And another one who sells expensive beef and wines does his high priced products every night, and then his other inventory on a weekly basis.

As you can see it’s all about getting a handle on your particular business. It takes time to figure out the general cycle of your business, and then once you do you can institute regular counts.

Thoughts about waste

We took part in a conversation recently based on Dan Barber’s WastED pop up, and how waste affects restaurant food cost and bottom line and its affect on the environment.

This from a current CostGuard Food Costing user and restaurant owner:

We don’t have much food waste at all since I was taught good habits about avoiding it since my first job. Almost all vegetable peelings go into the stockpot. Since most good restaurants have a wall mounted stock pot running 24 hours/day, you just toss em in whenever you finish peeling. Outer leaves of lettuce go into a veg stock with mushroom scraps to make a veg stock for mushroom risotto. Carrot peels go into the veal or chicken stock.

Celery leaves can be dried in a low oven, crumbled, and mixed with a little Maldon sea salt to make celery salt for bloody marys. Like most casual restaurants, we don’t have a standing stock pot so there’s not a ton we can do with peels. But tomatoes get sliced thinly for sandwich and burger garnishes, and the end pieces get diced to make pico de gallo. Portobellos get cut with a ring mold to make uniform circles for portobello sliders, and the trim gets sliced and sautéed with onions to make a garnish for a grilled chicken sandwich. Stems of other mushrooms can get ground up with shallots and garlic to make duxelles.

Bacon fat that drips off during cooking, oil left over after making garlic confit, these things are treasures. Either use them again for the next batch of whatever you made, use them as a base for a salad dressing, or use them to toast buns on a flat grill instead of butter.

Most importantly, finding multiple uses for 90% of your inventory will cut waste massively. We don’t put anything on the menu unless all the ingredients can be used in at least one other menu item.

But honestly, (without having done any research whatsoever), I feel like food waste doesn’t account for much of the landfill problem since it biodegrades so quickly. The real way that restaurants can cut down on waste is through packaging. Using returnable crates for bread and produce deliveries rather than disposable plastic boxes and bags you get at the supermarket, finding alternatives to styrofoam takeout boxes, and not using coffee capsules are all pretty important.

Ingredient label exporting in CostGuard

CostGuard Food Costing Software is proud to announce our LABEL INTERFACE!

We are pleased to announce our newest software release: the Label Interface. This new product is the result of our partnership with ECRS, the developer of Catapult retail POS.

 

We are unveiling the interface at this year’s Natural Products Expo West convention. ECRS is the #1 Overall Leader of Point of Sale and #1 Leader in Grocery POS (2014 RIS Leaderboard). Meet us in person on March 6 & 7, 2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center; Booth #3852 (ECRS Booth).

 

OVERVIEW

The Label Interface connects your CostGuard prepared foods data with your POS system. 

Once you create your recipes in CostGuard, the following can be exported to your POS system:

1. Cost and selling prices

2. Label details

You’ll save time and reduce entry errors due to duplicate entries. Click here for details and an example.

 

If you’re interested in the Catapult solution, please let us know and we’ll put you in touch with the appropriate representative.

 

If you’re using another POS or labeling solution and you’d like to integrate with CostGuard, please let us know.

 

To purchase the Label Interface, click here (our 30 day money back guarantee applies).

Food costing for Canadians!

Tragically HipWe’re so proud of the great relationships CostGuard has with our Canadian customers, The Delta Hotels and Silver Birch chains, the Sheratons and Radissons. So when we heard that The Tragically Hip were coming to New York’s Beacon Theater we decided that a CostGuard company outing was in order. What better way to spend an evening than with great music and surrounded by a happy Canadian crowd!

We were NOT disappointed. I’m not quite 5 feet tall and I hate crowds. When we all walked into the lobby and I was immediately in a crush of tall bodies my first thought was “please, no stampedes, I will be crushed beneath the feet of this crowd”. But it soon became apparent that this was the most courteous, well behaved group of concert goers I ever had the pleasure of carousing with. If there had been a rush to the exits I know that someone would have scooped me up and carried me to safety.

 

As for the band, they were super high energy, with a great sound, and as soon as they took to the stage the crowd rose to their feet and began singing along. It was delightful. There’s nothing like being surrounded by awesome music and truly happy, good natured people.

How to control food costs in restaurants

CostGuard Food Costing Software helps you manage your restaurant food costs. Here’s how:

Track Your Food Cost and Inventory

 

Track food costs on a daily basis, so you know where you stand each day. If you know exactly what your food costs are daily you can manage your menu and your selling prices.

Adjust your ordering and your menu to compensate for food costs. If you’re on target you may be able to add a more expensive dish. Or maintain the status quo because you know it’s working. Keep your eye on your vendors bid prices and be alert to rising costs.

Count your inventory weekly, more often for high priced items. This is a must! Nothing should walk out the door without being accounted for. This is also a way to monitor portion size. If you see a variance you can start watching how items are plated, determine if there’s theft or waste.

It’s important to know what you have and how fast you go through your inventory.

Thoughtful Ordering

 

Know what you need and how much—something that taking inventory counts will tell you. Watch your sales mix to track your winners and losers.

Make sure you take into account shrinkage for all your items, especially protein, so you know your real food costs. CostGuard recosts each recipe depending upon the shrinkage value of each inventory item.

Control Portion Size

 

Train your staff to know exactly how many ounces of a protein should go on each serving plate. This is a make or break to meet a food cost target! And making your target food cost helps you order the right quantities, and maintain your menu prices. It also makes for a consistent dish for your patrons.

The same goes for your wine and alcohol pours. Bartenders should be held to strict standards for pouring (I know, easier said than done). But having been over poured as a customer I can feel for the owner.

Decrease Waste

 

To decrease waste from spoilage, order  proteins and other short shelf life items daily.

Make sure you carefully monitor any adjustments so that your variances reflect accuracy of waste and spoilage. This will allow you determine if you are over ordering items that spoil too quickly for you to sell. Run the CostGuard variance report often to monitor usage and waste!