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The Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Restaurant & Food Service Labor Costs

The Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Restaurant & Food Service Labor Costs

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The Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Restaurant & Food Service Labor Costs

3.5/5 (3 ratings)
233 pages
3 hours
Sep 9, 2002


This series of fifteen books - The Food Service Professional Guide TO Series from the editors of the Food Service Professional magazine are the best and most comprehensive books for serious food service operators available today.

These step-by-step guides on a specific management subject range from finding a great site for your new restaurant to how to train your wait staff and literally everything in between. They are easy and fast-to-read, easy to understand and will take the mystery out of the subject. The information is boiled down to the essence. They are filled to the brim with up to date and pertinent information.

The books cover all the bases, providing clear explanations and helpful, specific information. All titles in the series include the phone numbers and web sites of all companies discussed. What you will not find are wordy explanations, tales of how someone did it better, or a scholarly lecture on the theory.

Every paragraph in each of the books are comprehensive, well researched, engrossing, and just plain fun-to-read, yet are packed with interesting ideas. You will be using your highlighter a lot! The best part aside from the content is they are very moderately priced. The whole series may also be purchased the ISBN number for the series is 0910627266. You are bound to get a great new idea to try on every page if not out of every paragraph. Do not be put off by the low price, these books really do deliver the critical information and eye opening ideas you need to succeed without the fluff so commonly found in more expensive books on the subject. Highly recommended!

Atlantic Publishing is a small, independent publishing company based in Ocala, Florida. Founded over twenty years ago in the company president’s garage, Atlantic Publishing has grown to become a renowned resource for non-fiction books. Today, over 450 titles are in print covering subjects such as small business, healthy living, management, finance, careers, and real estate. Atlantic Publishing prides itself on producing award winning, high-quality manuals that give readers up-to-date, pertinent information, real-world examples, and case studies with expert advice. Every book has resources, contact information, and web sites of the products or companies discussed.

This Atlantic Publishing eBook was professionally written, edited, fact checked, proofed and designed. The print version of this book is 144 pages and you receive exactly the same content. Over the years our books have won dozens of book awards for content, cover design and interior design including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin award for excellence in publishing. We are proud of the high quality of our books and hope you will enjoy this eBook version.

Sep 9, 2002

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The Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Restaurant & Food Service Labor Costs - Sharon Fullen

Controlling Restaurant & Food Service Labor Costs

By Sharon Fullen

The Food Service Professional’s Guide To: Controlling Restaurant & Food Service Labor Costs: 365 Secrets Revealed

Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. Copyright © 2003

1210 SW 23rd Place

Ocala, Florida 34474


352-622-5836 - Fax - Web site - E-mail

SAN Number :268-1250

All rights reserved. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of information contained herein. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No warranty is implied. The information is provided on an as is basis.

International Standard Book Number: 0-910627-17-7

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Fullen, Sharon L.

Controlling restaurant & food service labor costs : 365 secrets revealed / by Sharon Fullen.

p. cm. -- (Food service professionals guide to)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-910627-17-7 (pbk. : alk. paper)

1. Food service--Labor productivity. 2. Food service--Cost control. I. Title: Controlling restaurant and food service labor costs. II. Title. III. Series.

TX911.3.L27 F85 2003



A few years back we lost our beloved pet dog Bear, who was not only our best and dearest friend but also the Vice President of Sunshine here at Atlantic Publishing. He did not receive a salary but worked tirelessly 24 hours a day to please his parents.

Bear was a rescue dog who turned around and showered myself, my wife, Sherri, his grandparents Jean, Bob, and Nancy, and every person and animal he met (well, maybe not rabbits) with friendship and love. He made a lot of people smile every day.

We wanted you to know a portion of the profits of this book will be donated in Bear’s memory to local animal shelters, parks, conservation organizations, and other individuals and nonprofit organizations in need of assistance.

– Douglas and Sherri Brown

PS: We have since adopted two more rescue dogs: first Scout, and the following year, Ginger. They were both mixed golden retrievers who needed a home.

Want to help animals and the world? Here are a dozen easy suggestions you and your family can implement today:

•  Adopt and rescue a pet from a local shelter.

•  Support local and no-kill animal shelters.

•  Plant a tree to honor someone you love.

•  Be a developer — put up some birdhouses.

•  Buy live, potted Christmas trees and replant them.

•  Make sure you spend time with your animals each day.

•  Save natural resources by recycling and buying recycled products.

•  Drink tap water, or filter your own water at home.

•  Whenever possible, limit your use of or do not use pesticides.

•  If you eat seafood, make sustainable choices.

•  Support your local farmers market.

•  Get outside. Visit a park, volunteer, walk your dog, or ride your bike.

Five years ago, Atlantic Publishing signed the Green Press Initiative. These guidelines promote environmentally friendly practices, such as using recycled stock and vegetable-based inks, avoiding waste, choosing energy-efficient resources, and promoting a no-pulping policy. We now use 100-percent recycled stock on all our books. The results: in one year, switching to post-consumer recycled stock saved 24 mature trees, 5,000 gallons of water, the equivalent of the total energy used for one home in a year, and the equivalent of the greenhouse gases from one car driven for a year.

Table of Contents












From the parking attendant to the chef, the people who serve your customers are your restaurant. You can have a prime location, a beautiful dining room and impeccably prepared food and have it all spoiled by a rude server, sloppy busperson or an inattentive janitor. Your restaurant’s success is based upon your ability to locate, hire and solidify a group of people into your Customer Service Team.

The food service industry has long been plagued with an inadequate workforce and exceptionally high turnover rates. The increased demand for service workers and culture changes within the workforce means less-educated recruits, more non-English-speaking employees and fewer younger people interested in restaurant work.

Whether you own a celebrity-filled, trendsetting establishment or a truck-stop diner, the situation is the same. Where do you find good employees? How do you keep good employees? How can you get your money’s worth?

Labor costs typically run 25–35 percent of your budget and, depending upon your menu offerings, can equal or exceed your food costs. Keeping your prime costs (food and payroll) in the 60–69-percent range is your profit-making goal. Simply cutting staff won’t do it though. Your aim should be to get the highest productivity possible for your money. But to save money without losing quality of service, you have to start at square one.

This guide has been written to help you tackle the never-ending process of reducing your labor costs. You’ll find practical ideas and suggestions with immediate and long-term results. We’ll be helping you to examine your attitudes and relationships with the people who represent your business; to develop hiring and training programs to build great employees and minimize turnover; to create physical and emotional environments that encourage outstanding performances and produce happy employees and customers; and to maximize resources and enhance your profitability.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Foundation of Success

Good food and good service are the foundation of a successful restaurant. As a service industry, restaurant profit margins are notoriously slim. Your restaurant’s profitability is a direct result of your ability to control your service costs without sacrificing your customers’ needs and expectations.

Service is Paramount

Keep firmly in mind that service is paramount. Surveys show that 83 percent of customers would not return to a restaurant if they experienced poor service. Sixty-one percent mentioned slow service as a factor. However, we aren’t just talking about the front-of-the-house staff – every employee plays a vital role in good customer service. If your customer finds better service elsewhere, what do you lose? Just one customer, right? But that customer spent $10 in your establishment twice a week: $10 x 2 = $20 x 52 weeks = $1,040 a year! What if you lose five customers or even ten? One server with a bad attitude can cost you their salary or more in lost revenue and permanently damage your reputation within the community. Good service is a combination of:

•  Strong commitment by management. Standards and expectations backed by a respect and partnership attitude.

•  Positive employee attitudes and motivation. A desire and willingness to serve others and good communications.

•  Good training methods. Top-notch employee skills and abilities.

•  Practical approaches and procedures. To work together efficiently.

•  Labor-saving devices. An environment filled with tools and equipment that promote good ergonomics and maximum productivity.

People are Assets

You probably wouldn’t think too highly of someone who bought a beautiful automobile and then never bothered to clean it, change the oil or tune it. Who would spend so much and not protect their investment? Well, employing one person can cost as much as a car and, unless you are diligent, you too could be wasting your money!

•  Invest wisely. Every dollar you spend (directly and indirectly) to purchase and maintain an employee is an investment in your business. Protecting your human assets and securing your investment is integral to your labor-saving efforts. Are you investing wisely?

•  High turnover rates. They leave after three months! Why should I spend the money only to have them move to a competitor? Because the industry creates high turnover rates and you have a responsibility to your business to provide a solution. Exceptionally high food service turnover rates are deeply rooted in historical attitudes and a business model based upon spending as little as possible for workers and your factory. By ignoring workers’ physical and emotional needs, restaurant owners have created an industry filled with some of the worst jobs.

•  Address problems. Certainly you cannot solve these industry problems single-handedly; however, you can play an active role and reap the benefits of addressing such factors as low pay, excessive stress, inferior work conditions, limited career potential, poor economic security and overwhelming physical demands.

•  Costs. I cannot afford to pay more! But you already are. You’re paying for it through costly recruiting and training, reduced productivity, increased food costs, inconsistent customer service and larger overhead. By redirecting these dollars towards maintaining and enhancing your human assets, you’ll be investing in your business instead of just

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    a lot of good information that everybody can learn from this book