How Restaurants Can Save Money

Restaurant owner budgeting

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Everyone is looking for ways to save money these days, and restaurant owners are no exception. The good news is that there are a lot of quick and easy steps you can take to save, either through cutting back on energy use or by reducing spoilage. A lot of these tips are just common sense. They're the things your mom told you when you were growing up...and they're still on target. 

Turn off Those Lights 

OK, you can't turn them off, at least not during operational hours, but you can switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. Subway has switched its lighting to energy-efficient bulbs in all its U.S. franchise locations. Switching over can save you up to $22 a year—and that's per bulb.

And Mom was right. You should keep those lights turned off when you don’t need them. If you don’t start serving lunch until 11 a.m., there's no reason to light up the dining room before then. 

Conserve Water and Dishwasher Use

Only run the dishwasher when it's completely full. Mom probably told you this, too. It cuts down on water usage, soap, and energy costs. And soak those dishes rather than run hot water over them to loosen the dried food. Fill a sink once and let them sit there until a single batch of water has done the job.

Consider installing low-flow faucets. This will save between 20 to 40 percent of water usage. You can buy low-flow toilets, too. 

Switch From Plastic to Glass 

Green restaurants have been following this tip for years, and the cost really adds up when you use disposable plates, flatware, or cups. Consider a one-time investment instead and do your part for the environment as well as your bank account. Buy china, glass, and silver. You'll save on garbage costs, too. 

Invest in Energy Efficient Appliances 

This can be a lot easier said than done in a sluggish economy, but many states offer tax credits and other incentives to restaurants for switching to energy-efficient appliances. The savings you'll realize on each appliance can often pay for it within a year or two.

Take Another Look at Your Menu 

Trim down your menu. Track sales of each item and remove those that just aren’t selling well. This will help reduce food spoilage and it will keep your food costs under control. You might also look for ways to cross-utilize menu items, using one item for multiple dishes. 

Take Advantage of E-Marketing 

When was the last time you actually picked up a telephone book? You probably can't remember. More and more people are turning to Google and other search engines these days to look for restaurants. They're not checking the Yellow Pages.

Take advantage of all the internet has to offer, from designing your own website to advertising online. Many companies offer inexpensive e-newsletters that you can send to customers for a fraction of the cost of traditional prints ads.

It All Begins With Your Staff 

Teach your staff to sort recyclables, to turn off those lights, and to let you know if there's a leaky faucet in the wait station. And make sure they turn down the thermostat and keep it down. Most people, including your customers, are perfectly comfortable at 68 degrees. Keeping your place warmer than that will just cost you money.