Manage Food Costs to Increase Margins and Maximize Profits

Managing food costs is a key way to improve restaurant margins, and even small changes can result in big savings over the course of a year. Truckstop and travel plaza operators said they take a multifaceted approach to address supply costs as well as food waste and theft.
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Photo credit: Brittany Palmer/NATSO 

Managing food costs is a key way to improve restaurant margins, and even small changes can result in big savings over the course of a year. Truckstop and travel plaza operators said they take a multifaceted approach to address supply costs as well as food waste and theft.

Michael Ouimet, president of Oiumet Resources, which operates travel center restaurants in 11 states and provides consulting work, said increasing food costs coupled with tight margins have added to the importance of managing food costs. “It has become really, really important in our restaurants to get the food cost right,” Ouimet said while addressing attendees at The NATSO Show 2017 in Savannah, Georgia.

Ouimet and other NATSO members said they tackle food costs from a variety of angles and shared their insight with Stop Watch.

Calculate Food Costs
During
The NATSO Show, Ouimet said one of the best ways to get a handle on food costs is to calculate theoretical food costs, the amount an operator should achieve with no waste or theft, and compare them to the actual food costs. Ouimet also shared his food cost guidelines (see page 10). “Once you get a handle on your theoretical cost, you will get a better handle on waste and theft. Your actual costs should be within 2 to 4 percent of your theoretical cost,” he said.

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