Oath Pizza Director of Supply Chain Pam McMorrow reveals how restaurants can mitigate the worst effects of inflation, product shortages and COVID-19.
By Pam McMorrow, director of Supply Chain, Oath Pizza
It’s safe to say that 2022 has not brought restaurant owners the relief we’ve been desperately seeking after two years of pandemic lockdowns. Across the U.S., restaurants have reopened, and consumers are more comfortable dining in, but a new slate of challenges has risen to replace social distancing and the forced pivot to off-site service.
Chief among those challenges is a global supply chain disrupted by rapidly increasing inflation, product shortages and the looming threat of an economic recession, but restaurants are not at a total loss in addressing these challenges. In fact, the worst effects of the current supply chain crisis can be mitigated by doubling down on the fundamentals of restaurant operations.
1. Reengineer your menu
Now is a good time to tighten up your menu, with an eye toward cross-utilizing ingredients and promoting products that are easier or less expensive to source. Cost of chicken wings killing your margins? See what your chef can do with chicken thighs. Trouble finding high-quality olive oil? Experiment with seed oil to create menu items that are not only easier to source but also boast a marketable lower calorie count.
By carefully engineering your menu to make the most of the current supply chain, you can also streamline your kitchen operations, making food prep easier and requiring less labor (another persistent thorn in the side of restaurant owners this year).
2. Use sustainable products
Going green is no longer just a social responsibility; it’s also a financial responsibility. Recyclable and multi-use products in your kitchen can dramatically reduce your non-food product costs, and locally sourced produce can ensure your supply chain is not subject to the whims of the global economy.
3. Develop better vendor relationships
It is essential to cultivate strong relationships with your vendors. Those partners can make or break you in the face of challenging situations and circumstances. For all the innovation and cutting-edge tech our industry has leveraged to grow in recent years, your success as a restaurant owner will always come back to old-school fundamentals. You’ve got to trust your partners and earn their trust in return. Your vendors, if treated like true partners, can open up an entirely new network of suppliers to you so that you aren’t squeezed by the largest national and international vendor behemoths. Doing so can also provide backup channels if your primary vendor is hit with shipping delays.
4. Reduce Waste
You pay for every item that enters your kitchen, so every item thrown out is wasted money. There are several ways to reduce waste in your restaurant, and it is critical to employ all of them.
Every week, forecast your sales for the following week and analyze the accuracy of the previous week’s. Did you overestimate your need for a product? Figure out why, and adjust your forecast accordingly. This also goes back to menu engineering. Are there products that are consistently difficult to forecast accurately? Figure out how to replace them. Do any of your menu items necessarily create waste? Get creative to use the excess ingredients in other menu items (at Oath Pizza, we use our excess pizza dough to make croutons for salads).
By adjusting your restaurant operations to meet the challenges of the current global supply chain, you will create a leaner, more efficient restaurant. One that can thrive now and be better positioned for the future than its competitors.