7 Golden Rules of Restaurant Cost Control

7 Golden Rules of Restaurant Cost Control

The main reason most restaurants are not able to manage their finances and suffer losses is that they are not able to keep their restaurant costs in check. Restaurant Cost Control is essential as it allows you to identify the area of your expenses and take corrective and preventive measure to keep a healthy ratio between your expenses and finances. Read a detailed resource on Food and Beverage Cost Control in restaurants here.

In this article, we will discuss how you can track, manage, and control costs in restaurants.

7 Tips for Restaurant Cost Control

Follow these seven simple yet highly effective tips to reduce your restaurant costs.

1.Tracking and Managing Inventory to Ensure Food Cost Control

The first step to restaurant cost control is to track and control your inventory. Monitoring inventory may seem like a tedious task, but also essential if you want to reduce your costs. Have an annual contract with the vendors. The Purchase Department should negotiate the price with the present vendor about the products which was procured in the previous year and should bring the rates down. It is advised to conduct an inventory check regularly, perhaps once a week for effective restaurant cost control and track the most used items. This step will also enable you to save while ordering raw materials and while managing your yield.  You need to order inventory accurately, keep track of inflows and outflows in your restaurant, and you’ll lower your variance and your food costs. To know more on inventory control, refer to a detailed article on Inventory Management for  Restaurants.

2. Purchasing Raw Materials on Credit to Reduce Costs

You can control your restaurant costs by going for minimalist cash transactions and conducting all your purchases through the restaurant’s account on a credit basis. Usually, the raw materials purchased in cash are less in quantity and can turn out to be expensive as compared to when you are buying it in bulk.

Manish Sharma talking about Restaurant Cost Control

Purchasing the raw materials on credit is a good idea as it allows you to run your restaurant, generate revenue, and then pay off the credit for the money made. Consider the Credit Period before deciding your restaurant’s vendor. It is usually around 15-20 days but differs from vendor to vendor. Remember to establish the ground rules of payment, ordering, and receiving. Join a ‘Purchase Group’ if possible to significantly lower your restaurant costs. In a purchasing group because of the sheer number of buyers, the suppliers often lower the prices. 

The operations of the restaurant and their service providers are critically dependent on each other, so it is imperative to maintain positive and healthy relationships between them. You must remember that while putting a certain amount of pressure on the suppliers is necessary and inevitable; your restaurant cost control targets will fail at the cost of a healthy relationship that you may share with them.

3. Controlling Labor Costs by Reducing Employee Turnover

Another tip for reducing your budget spent on labor and restaurant cost control is to lower your employee turnover. One of the most critical areas where every restaurant owners should pay attention to the retention of employees. It is a real challenge to hire a quality employee with the right skills. Hiring a restaurant staff member needs a lot of resources starting from the interviews to recruiting them, and training them appropriately. But in a case, if an employee leaves your restaurant in the initial weeks only, all the resources that you had put in hiring the person goes waste.  So while hiring new employees in your restaurant, your primary focus should be on quality hiring and make such favorable conditions so that they stick around for a longer time.  Spend time in hiring and adequately assess the candidates’ profile when hiring them. Read this detailed article to control the labor costs in restaurants.

Chef Ajay k Thakur talking about retention of employees and restaurant cost control

4. Restaurant Cost Control through Yield Management

You can implement Restaurant Cost Control and reduce your Food Costs significantly by merely giving attention to a slight detail that is often overlooked, yet just as critical, namely Yield Management. Yield management is an integral part of food cost control as it gives you the idea of how much quantity of raw materials would be used to prepare a particular food item. The raw materials should be ordered and purchased keeping the yield of the items in mind.

For example, the amount of raw meat delivered to your restaurant, and the amount of raw meat that can be consumed in a dish are different. While placing the order, you should keep in mind how many portions would a particular order of raw materials deliver.

Another way to control restaurant cost is to understand the use of your ingredients and then order them accordingly. Most ingredients are not too different in quality, but because of the grade difference, the price gap is a lot. Understand if you need an excellent ingredient for your dish or if one grade lower ingredient would also be fine to order accordingly and save some money, for example, if you are making guacamole do you need grade 1 avocados? The only difference between grade 1 and grade 2 avocados is the outer part which does not make a difference in guacamole, so you can very well put a grade 2 avocado in the dish.

5. Controlling Wastage through Portion Control

Overproduction, big portions are the signs of wastage which lead to escalating food costs. You should have the tools to measure the portions and rigorous process to control the size of the portion. Right plating of the food is also essential as over serving of food can lead to high food costs and also wastage. Find out how to Portion Control can Reduce Your Food Costs and Improve your Restaurant Revenues here.

Another way in which you can reduce costs by training your staff about maximum recycling and smart waste management in the restaurant. Learn how to manage the waste in your restaurant here.

We suggest creating a tracking chart based on these parameters:-

  • Food Returned by the Customer
  • Food Burnt in the Kitchen
  • Food Spilled in the Kitchen or Floor
  • Extra Portions that get thrown away

By keeping a regular check on these, you can not only control wastage because of your portion sizes but also monitor other sources of wastage that will cost you money. Track these wast generation sources to keep your restaurant costs in check.

6. Tapping Internal Thefts and Pilferage that will help in Restaurant Cost Control

One of the significant areas where restaurants lose out on a lot of money is internal thefts and pilferage. The lack of automation and reporting often leads to rising costs. There are multiple ways internal thefts happen in restaurants, and the restaurant owners are not able to identify the point where the thefts are occurring. For example, dishonest staff members can alter the number of sales that happened on a particular day and pocket the billed amount for themselves. One way to control this is to assign roles and permissions for each activity. Find out the other ways internal thefts happen at restaurants and ask how to keep them under check. 

7. Daily and Weekly Reporting to Keep Track of the Restaurant Food Costs

Another important tip that you have to follow is to keep a regular track of your restaurant business. This can only happen when you keep a regular record of the operations being undertaken by your restaurant. By keeping a track on the numbers and regular reporting, the managers will be able to control food costs, Labor Costs and simultaneously keep a lookout on sales-purchase reports.
The purchases-sales report should be audited on a weekly or fortnightly basis depending on the size of the restaurant.
Along with it, there is also a need to conduct monthly sales report where you could examine the monthly sales done for every menu item served by your restaurant.

Sahil Sambhi talking about restaurant cost control

Apart from this, the significant capital bleed in any restaurants is accidents and spillage. Make sure your kitchen /Bar /restaurant layout should be free of any obstacles for traffic during the peak hours. Floors must be anti-skid to avoid accidents.

Implement these tips in your restaurant’s budgeting and cost control measures and let us know how they worked out for you in the comments below!

Rating: 5.0/5. From 3 votes.
Please wait...


  1. There are various hidden costs that bleed the restaurant dry. This article is very well crafted and will inform the restaurant owners of the restaurant costs and how to keep them under control. I would, however, like to add that the expenses incurred behind the restaurant staff also has the potential of burning a hole in the cash register. Hence, it is recommended that you try and run your restaurant with limited permanent staff and call in for part-time or seasonal restaurant employees to manage the rush during the festive season. Such actions will help you control your restaurant cost to a great extent. 🙂

  2. When it comes to food orders, the harder you’re willing to work, the more you can save. Keep track of the food prices around the world and things that can affect the price of food. In the cooking process, some by-products and food waste are inevitable, but some chefs are finding creative and innovative ways to incorporate those by-products into their dishes. The article is very well explained especially the quotes. Good Read.

  3. Thanks for the information, very useful indeed. Days of restaurant cost control excel sheets are gone, everything can be done automatically with the help of the pos software.

  4. Food cost seems to be the most difficult aspect to manage for any restaurant owner. I like how this article gives detailed information about managing the food cost and keeping it in check!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here