Owning and operating any business has long nights of paperwork and reconciling accounts to try and find where costs can be cut to make room for profits. Universally hated, these tasks are sadly necessary to create a sustainable and successful business, especially for virtual and ghost kitchen startups.
The higher pressure of monitoring the incoming and outgoing costs is increased within the food industry as the goods provided aren't able to simply stay on the shelf until someone buys them. Working to cut down on food waste will lower the cost of operations for both you and your customers. Every dollar invested in cutting food waste saves seven dollars on average for restaurants.
Creating An Efficient Kitchen
Building a strong and organized management system for your kitchen should be one of the foundational tasks that gets serious consideration. Making use of a restaurant SaaS can turn a stressful collection of various platforms into a single, easy-to-use dashboard so you can focus on strategy over implementation.
Another perk of using one central program to track your ghost kitchen is the decrease of food waste through proper planning. Making sure you only have what you need on hand will make foul expirations less common and also give you more chances to change up your menu which can use ingredients nearing that dreaded "best by" date.
Knowing Your Kitchen's Routine
Even if you've gone through the ghost kitchen startup already, you likely remember the days of Googling "ghost kitchen near me" to see if your business is popping up or gaining traction yet. Now that those days are gone, you still need to keep an eye on the operations that drove a regular ghost kitchen startup to become your pride and joy of a company.
Thanks to the advances in food tech, your restaurant's SaaS is able to track order times, customer peaks and the type of food most often ordered. To break that down you'll want to know:
- Your busiest time of day
- The amount of each item ordered
- How long orders took to complete
Each of these can help you pinpoint changes to make to the prep work in order to keep as close to the actual amount of food needed each time the lunch rush comes through. If you're regularly making too much prep food for a dish that doesn't sell, it may be time to either cut the item entirely or limit how much prep is done and have it simply be a reactive dish needing an order before any work is done on it.
Nitpick Every Food Storage Area
Known as a waste audit, this comprehensive style of taking inventory will make sure that what you're keeping on hand actually matches the needs of your kitchen. It's also an important practice to find areas of opportunity in your storage solutions. Make sure that each ingredient is being stored at the correct temperature and that certain foods that spoil each other aren't staying in the same place.
Stay Committed To Each Recipe
At least until you've used the ingredients it needs, you should try to make sure that you aren't changing menu items too often. A healthy rotation as the seasons and local options change is great, but initializing a new menu item takes a lot of upfront prep. If you start dabbling in more exotic ingredients, you'll suffer heavy loss in the event the menu item gets removed sooner than expected.
Keep Up With Maintenance
Just like the farmers that grow your ingredients, you should be regularly doing walkthroughs of the production floor in your kitchen to look for signs of food waste. Properly training chefs and cooks can help reduce mistakes that ruin a dish, while sharing better practices in food storage can help everyone involved with the day-to-day processes reduce waste.
Get Customers Involved!
Let's say you've gotten your food waste down to almost nothing. This feat is something to share with your customers and online following! Not only do you get to show how committed you are to being as sustainable as possible, you can make changes that more heavily impact the customer with less backlash and they'll understand it's all done for a greater purpose.
Most kitchens offer to-go containers for leftover food so you can push this even more with eco-friendly boxes, getting guests excited to take the food home rathe than leaving it on the plate to be discarded.
Large plates of food can often be cut down in regards to the portions given which reduces waste for you and your customer on every single order. At the end of the day, it's important to remember that running a ghost kitchen is a relationship between you, your customers and your ingredient providers. Keep an open and honest dialogue while pushing towards sustainability and savings together and you'll be amazed at the support you can receive.