Relieving Pressure Placed on Foodservice Operators
As we head towards a new year, the overriding healthcare foodservice trend continues to be a demand from consumers for healthier food choices: think fresh, local, organic, sustainable. This is exciting as we all push forward with efforts to combat rising obesity rates. However, the movement to incorporate these healthier options into patient and retail menus puts added pressure on foodservice operations to meet these expectations within a limited budget. The uncertainties that continue to loom regarding the overall financial impact of the Accountable Care Act adds additional pressure on all healthcare operations to produce cost savings. Add in an average annual food cost inflation of 3-5% and it’s no surprise that many foodservice operators are struggling to meet all of the demands being placed on them.
A computerized food operations management system is an essential tool to help meet these ever-increasing requirements. An effective system can provide invaluable information, helping your operation stay flexible to the changing needs. Key tools provided in an automated system include:
- Price Analysis: Purchasing more local foods can mean an increase in suppliers. Comparing prices between multiple vendors, or several vendor items, allows you to make informed purchasing choices. Viewing the comparison price might result in a purchase from a different vendor, or the data could be used as a leveraging tool to negotiate a better price from your desired supplier.
- Menu Management: Astute menu planning is paramount to account for escalating costs. Automated solutions allow operators to evaluate menu costs and readily identify when changes are needed. Menu substitutions can then be automatically incorporated into your ordering and production schedules, allowing you to streamline your operations while ensuring the bottom line is met.
- Inventory Control: Excessive amounts of on-hand inventory is a leading cause of high food costs in operations. But in order to reduce overall inventory levels, you must be able to track what is coming in and going out. Menu-driven ordering keeps on-hand inventory levels under control and can significantly reduce the amount of time staff spends placing orders. Add in tools to track receipts as product is received and issues as supplies are used, and you have all the data needed to effectively manage inventory levels.
- Food Waste Reduction: Food waste is a significant contributor to overall food costs; therefore, minimizing over-production and efficient inventory stock rotation are key components to keeping food costs under budget. Being able to identify where food is being wasted in your operation helps you take swift action to get it under control.
Undoubtedly, having all of these management tools at your fingertips can make the challenge to meet consumer demands for healthier, local and organic menu options within a limited budget less daunting. With the right systems in place, it is possible to exceed consumer expectations and meet the bottom line.
Article by: Heather Johnson, Hospitality Suite Product Manager; Fusion, 4th Quarter, 2013