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It's a simple fact of human behavior: People don't want you to see their mistakes.

This is especially true in the foodservice business where mistakes become waste and lost profits. In our business, every morsel has been bought and paid for and its value lies in its resale not its position at the bottom of a trash can.

That is why waste is so very bad for restaurants. So, what happens when food prep doesn't go as planned? What happens when you are not getting the maximum yields? Where does that money go?

It goes down the drain.

According to some estimates, Americans waste 40 percent of the food that is produced. Restaurants may only account for a small portion of that waste due to better management. But, in restaurants every bit of food should reap a gain.

What is the cost of burning a steak? Overcooking the vegetables? Forgetting to rotate the sauces? Or not following recipes correctly? Management, as well as all employees, needs to be aware of inappropriate waste. How can we control the waste if it is human nature not to look bad?

It can be simple:

  • Remove all garbage disposals. No garbage disposal, no way to hide mistakes. Plus, no clogged drains.
  • Substitute those black garbage bags with transparent ones and use a metal frame bag holder. If waste can be seen there will be more care in handling and cooking.
  • Put all food waste into a clear tub and then have it approved before it gets thrown out.
  • There are many new technologies to help with waste.

Whatever your system, be sure track your food consumption to sales in order to get the yield you expect. Profit in the restaurant industry is thin and built on running the appropriate food cost so that diners get value and management receives a return on their investment.

In my many years consulting on operations, without a doubt, most of the conversations center on what distributors charge versus the yield extracted from raw materials. It is ironic that management looks to get the last penny out of their vendors, yet fail to see the nickels and dimes they throw in the garbage. No operation is perfect and while waste may be a necessary part of your costs, you must find consistent ways to expose it, track it and account for it.

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John Krebs
John Krebs is a dynamic, seasoned executive with experience in building and growing multi-million-dollar organizations through strategic visioning, expert leadership, and strong operational expertise. Krebs has helped hundreds of foodservice organizations achieve a focus on exceptional results by using his operational and supply expertise in distribution, purchasing and operational management.
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