How to fight inflation and lower costs at your Toronto restaurant

In a world of what seems like never ending price increases, those in the Toronto restaurant industry continue to look long and hard at further ways to cut costs and keep them down. Yes indeed, inflation is biting hard on Toronto restaurant owners, but, on the other hand, consumers are still out there eating at their favourite restaurants. So how on earth do you juggle with the dilemma of cutting costs without putting off customers?

Here we look at some ways that other Toronto restaurants have employed to help you reduce operating costs. The trick of course is to carefully monitor your own cost cutting actions and any impacts that these have on your customer base. Naturally, you’ll not want to introduce too many cost cutting changes at the same time; your regular customers will notice drastic changes, and this could mean they look to other venues to eat and strike your restaurant off their list!

Look at the menu

Possibly this is one of the most delicate areas to change, as regular customers will know it well and have favourite items that they always order. But any menu change is tricky at the best of times, let alone during a period of rocketing inflation. Casting a critical eye over your menu, you may easily spot items that can be easily removed and therefore immediately reduce your costs. These are items that…

  • Could be replaced with a cheaper alternative
  • Take a lot of time and energy to prepare and cook
  • Out of season and therefore more expensive to purchase
  • Infrequently ordered

When in doubt how to change your menu to cut costs, it’s a great idea to check out your competitor’s menus to see how they have handled it. Any changes you adopt that are in-line with those competitors will have less impact on your customers.

Reduce food costs

Historically you may have purchased the same food ingredients from the same suppliers. Are there any ways you could swap ingredients in your dishes to cheaper alternatives? Are other suppliers offering the ingredients you need at lower prices? Perhaps suppliers will provide you with a discount if you bulk buy ingredients as well?

Concerning suppliers, why not investigate whether buying locally in the GTA will help reduce your costs. It’ll also reduce your carbon footprint too and be a great marketing spin in letting customers know that you support local businesses.

With fresh produce, why not use fruit and vegetables that are in season as they’ll most certainly cost less. Again, you may be able to strike a deal with local suppliers, who may also be able to accommodate growing other ingredients for you too.

Your staff and opening hours

You may have historically opened and closed your restaurant business at the same times, but are there any chances of leveraging those times to help cut costs? What hours are your main competitors operating? Reducing opening or closing times just slightly will have a direct impact on your overheads, such as heating, lighting and staff wages.

Regarding your staff, are their working hours in line to meet demand throughout the different times of the day? Would part time staff be a better alternative for you? Also, if your restaurant seems to have a high turnover of staff, it would be worthwhile finding out the exact reason why. The continual recruitment and training of new staff takes up time and will cost you more.

Other ways to reduce costs

Just small changes to the way you operate can help cut your costs; sure, they may not seem to be doing so straight away, but over time you’ll see the changes! Here are some other ideas that may work for you own restaurant…

Make better use of your existing technology – for example, using your POS system, discover patterns in how your customers order their food and adopt these into your menu

Use cheaper alternatives – from takeout containers to serviettes – whatever items you could possibly replace that cost less for you to buy

Bulk cook and preparation where possible – could some menu items be prepared or cooked in bulk in advance to save time and energy?

Eco-friendly heating and lighting – are their energy saving heating and lighting solutions that could save you money over time?

A last thought to remember…

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for any restaurant business to help reduce costs to tackle inflation. Whatever ways you choose, you need to make sure that you monitor all changes that you to ensure you are still in-line with your competitors, and most importantly don’t put off customers.

CHI is dedicated to keeping up with local and national trends in the Restaurant Industry to help serve our customers better and keep them one step ahead. If you are interested in opening, purchasing, or selling a restaurant CHI Real Estate can help. Get in touch with our team today.