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Posts Tagged ‘Over-pouring’

“What I like to drink most is wine that belongs to others.”
Diogenes.

Today’s post looks at alcohol related thefts once the alcohol has made its way to the coolers and shelves in the bar.  These types of alcohol theft are broad categories.  Within each there are many scams, too many to list.  As I have discussed many times on this blog and my tax blog, alcohol theft has dire tax consequences for a restaurant.  In Canada, the total cost of the theft can easily be twice the cost of the stolen alcohol.  That’s why it is so important to minimize theft in your operation.

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Today’s post asks, are all thefts equal?  I’ve listed four common forms of theft in restaurants and bars.  If the amount of theft is equal in each case, is the cost to the restaurateur the same?  If you think each one has the same impact on the restaurant or bar, read on.

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Most restaurateurs know that theft is a problem in the hospitality industry, but very few know how much is going on in their own establishments. According to the U.S. National Restaurant Association, approximately 4% of all revenue is lost to in-house theft.  The latest figures from Statistics Canada, NPD Group and the CRFA, indicate that the average profit margin for Canadian restaurants was only 4.4% of operating revenue!  Based on these figures, approximately one-half of your profit is lost to employee theft.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the cost of missing alcohol is only half of the story.  Increasingly, restaurants and bars are learning that they have substantial tax liabilities resulting from stolen alcohol.  I urge you to learn more about this insidious practice, here.  It’s no wonder that 35% of restaurants fail because of employee theft!

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AbacusWhile there are some signs that we may be emerging from the recession, I think you’ll find that consumer behaviour has been changed, perhaps for many years to come.  Even your “well-off” customers are much more price conscious that they have ever been before.  Actually, they are more value conscious.  In order to “survive and thrive”, you have to continuously monitor your restaurant’s value proposition.

While there’s more to the value proposition than your menu and prices, these are the two aspects that can be adjusted fairly easily in the short-term.  These are also the two areas that most restaurateurs fiddle with first, when times get tough.  We could probably add labour into the mix, too.

Recessions always harm the restaurant industry.  People lose their jobs (or worry that they will lose them), cut back on meals outside the home, and spend less when they do go out.  Most restaurants experience a drop in both volume and check averages, often severely reducing (or eliminating) their profits.  To cover their fixed costs, restaurateurs will try everything to keep the customers they have and steal their competitors’ customers.  Most start with price reductions, either through coupons and discounts or with across the board price reductions.  It doesn’t take long to realize that quality or portion sizes have to be reduced to maintain profitable margins.  Easier said than done!

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I’m sure all restaurant consultants and accountants advise their clients to count inventory regularly.  Depending on how many menu items and ingredients in use, and how many times you count inventory, this simple procedure can represent a very significant time commitment.  Let’s take a closer look at inventory counts and see whether they’re worth the time and effort.

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Wine inventory is different from food inventory in one very important aspect.  Wine turns over a lot slower than food.  In other words, it stays on the shelf longer.  While food must be sold quickly, or it perishes, wine often improves with age.

The size and composition of a wine list depends on the type and style of restaurant.  Higher priced, fine dining restaurants tend to have larger wine lists and include higher priced wines, while casual dining restaurants feature a smaller selection of reasonably priced labels that appeal to a larger audience.

We usually categorize wines by varietals, countries and price, and often show the wines by-the-glass separately.  This is helpful for the customer trying to make a selection, but it is much less useful to the owner/manager.  There are at least four different categories of wine, and each has its own unique profit profile and implications for analyzing costs.

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