Cooking By Numbers
As a Chef, I cannot think of anything less interesting, but more critical than numbers to our business. Everything we do involves numbers. Scaling recipes, purchasing products, production planning, food cost, labor cost, selling cost and profit to just name a few. From the time we turn the exhaust fans on in the morning, to the time we lock the walk-in doors at night; numbers are part of everything we do.
While I am not talking about studying calculus or statistics, I am referring to simple mathematics that you learned in grade school such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. The simplest form of math provides us a wealth of information to help us run a more successful kitchen.
We are in business to make money, but the approach we take will determine how much profit we make. Please understand; numbers on a page are only part of the story. Nothing replaces experience and knowing your business.
Understanding the numbers and what they tell us about our operation, our performance and how they affect the profitability of our business is so important, but so often overlooked. Having a clear understanding of controlling cost and how the numbers affect financial profitability is the difference between being a cook and a Chef.
Stepping Over Quarters...
One of my favorite sayings that I often use to describe how not to run a business is, "Stepping over quarters to pick up pennies." Unfortunately, this is exactly what we tend to do when products are improperly priced or there is an issue of overproduction that leads to increased usage or waste. Our first reaction too often is to pull the profit from the center of the plate by increasing prices, reducing portion sizes or even worse; using a lower quality product in an attempt to recoup losses for poor financial management.
This is what I refer as "Stepping over Quarters to pick up pennies." You are not realizing real profit, you're just pulling the money from somewhere else. This approach weakens your operation or program by charging more and giving less and puts your operation at risk of losing business and further profits due to unhappy customers.
It's Good Business
This quote is followed by another of my favorite sayings, "Run your business every day." Both of these refer to one thing, being proactive rather than reactive in managing your operation. Don’t wait until there is a financial crisis before looking for a problem to stop the bleeding. By understanding what your numbers are telling you on a daily or weekly basis, you can more effectively manage the financial performance of your operation while minimizing profit loss.
When you run your business every day, you know and see how and where your product is being used. There is no guessing as to "where it all went." Losing products to spoilage because of over-ordering or product waste due to improper handling and then trying to make it up in other ways is not a sound plan for financial management. Your problem isn't the portion or the cost, it's the lack of caring for the products you have in the house.