One of the most significant contributors to food wastage in the food service industry is when the kitchen staff prepares food to accommodate a peak period, only to have things slow down.

Not only does this practice affect your profits, but the guessing and exclusive reliance on gut feeling alone can reveal an unprofessional approach to handling business. 

An experienced Chef and cook know the beat and flow in the kitchen and will determine production based upon a forecasted service. No matter how busy it feels at the moment, there is a higher chance it won’t be as busy in a few hours. And I am not just referring to peak or slow hours of the day but on peak and slow days of the month as well.

Food should be fired based upon knowledge, not on feelings. 

How then do you manage to transition food production from busy to slow periods?

The answer: Sales Forecasting

Sales Forecasting is vital in every food business operation as it reduces the chances of experiencing wastage or shortage. The forecaster’s intuition can still come to play in here, but the focus is more towards past data of your business’s sales performance. There is room for educated guesses as you will read later.

There is no ultimate way to do a sales forecast, but generally:

  1. Get the baseline by computing for your restaurant’s daily capacity.

Here’s an article to check out.

  1. Utilize Historical Consumption

Make use of the historical consumption patterns of your business sales trends, seasonality, special promotions.

By looking at the sales trends or estimated peaks and dips in volume, you will be able to establish your restaurant’s baseline. You will be better prepared for worst-case scenarios on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis.

A good practice at the end of each business day, compare this estimated sale to your actual sale. Write down in a logbook or database any particular variables: an event that occurred that day in your restaurant or near your area, seasonal changes, holidays, competitor activity (promo sale or event night) or any occasion that you can refer to in the future.

There are various Point of Sales (POS) systems that are extremely helpful in gathering detailed sales reports of your restaurant’s history. You can get data such as comparison on dates, peak sales by the hour and which menu item were frequently ordered, as well as which items were not. Thereafter, you can create your marketing plan to help boost these items that are not selling well. 

When food production is forecasted based on data, your kitchen team will be able to ensure that the ingredients needed in the menu are available ahead of time. Sales forecasting is based on historical sales numbers during similar periods. Therefore, you will have a certain degree of accuracy in computing for how much to purchase for an ingredient to prevent shortage and wastage. 

CLICK HERE to read more about controlling food costs.

In addition to that, you can execute systems that can contribute to the overall efficiency of your business:

  • Staffing – Labour costs are one of the most significant expenses in any business. When you create a staffing schedule based on your sales forecast, the number of staff will be intentional based on the forecasted demand of the day. 
  • Efficient food preparation – After inventory, buying or ordering for raw materials for on-hand supplies needed to produce the menu can be done ahead to ensure that there is enough time to trim, marinate, thaw, or do other pre-preparation procedures.
  • Profit Expectations – When you know your projected sales volume, you can create plans for your business growth. You can refer to your monthly or yearly performance if it is the right time to make significant hiring or purchases or whether you should wait things out.

There’s always a degree of unpredictability when operating a restaurant. On a slow night, you may have a random influx of customers or the opposite may happen- in a normal peak night, you may have low sales volume due to, say for example an unusual event in your area ( closed off roads due to unforeseen circumstances / an act of God event.) But still, sales forecasting will provide an estimate of how much of your food will sell.

It is good to know that in situations that restaurants need immediate Chef staffing service or kitchen staffing service, temp chefs are available. If your business is based in Perth or anywhere in Western Australia, you can rely on Anytime Chefs to provide you with the best temp chefs that will work with you to provide the exemplary service.

Sales forecasting is not a one-time activity that you can compute once. The rule of thumb is to adjust your forecasting once a month after you’re open. But note that when you’re starting a restaurant, you should be reviewing your forecast when anything significant happens.

In Summary:

The best sales forecast method will depend on how you manage the available past data that you have access to, and the specific factors that affect your business. 

And by then, you will be able to make data-driven decisions to improve your restaurant business.

That’s it for this week.

As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!

Ciao for now,


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