The multi-unit restaurant world is changing

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As a restaurateur, the past few years have been a financial rollercoaster for you. Despite consumers resuming many of their pre-pandemic dining habits, you are faced with your own unique set of obstacles. The amount you’re spending on raw materials for producing food and cooking food for your clients—it’s all rising. You’re trying your best to maximize your budget around the price of food because you just want to provide the best possible service for your customers, and you don’t want them to go to another food service operation.

Ongoing battles against inflation and higher food prices are resulting in thinner profit margins. Inventory costs are your number one source of financial strain. In these challenging times, it’s important to treat food inventory as one of your most important assets. Just like any business asset, you must be proactive in establishing preventive measures to preserve its quality and freshness. In these times of high food costs, growing competition, and thin margins, how you manage your food inventory storage in refrigeration equipment can make the difference between your multi-unit food service operation’s success and failure.

Whether you lose all of it or a small percentage of it, the domino effect of spoiled food can make the problem more serious than it initially seems. At first, you might have a few thousand dollars worth of spoiled produce. But now you can’t correctly make about half of your dishes. You try to operate with a limited menu, but customers aren’t happy. They take to social media to express their disappointment, and the damage to your reputation is unavoidable. Employees are upset, morale decreases, and you see the harsh effects on your bottom line. As you can see, there’s more at risk than dairy and produce. When the rising competition is demanding excellence in aspects such as menu engineering and guest experience, these kinds of incidents of food spoilage can make a real difference to your reputation and restaurant footfall.

Refrigeration equipment rarely gives you ample warning that it’s about to malfunction. Imagine coming into your restaurant after a holiday break only to find your freezer went out and everything in it has defrosted and started to break down. Unfortunately, in the multi-unit restaurant business, something as simple as a refrigeration unit breakdown can result in the loss of an entire day’s worth of food, if not more. Even worse, if you didn’t know about the equipment breakdown until people had eaten contaminated and/or potentially spoiled food, the liability could prove catastrophic to your brand reputation.

You already have an insurance policy that reimburses you for the cost of lost food and beverages up to the prescribed limits. Generally, the causes covered are prolonged power outages that are out of your control, resulting in the shutdown of the refrigeration or freezer units, and equipment breakdown or failure. However, you need to spend time and energy calculating the loss and going through the claim process to cover the loss. If you would like to have the insurance policy cover the revenue loss that is incurred because you had to shut down the operation for a while or make some menu items unavailable, you must take additional coverage at an increased premium. Above all, insurance does not cover your brand reputation.

The multi-unit restaurant operations scene is changing. How multi-unit managers are managing equipment temperature monitoring is still in the 90’s, and this practice requires a shift too.