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Winter Is Coming: How Frost Can Affect Your Restaurant’s Success



Winter Is Coming: How Frost Can Affect Your Restaurant’s Success

As we enter the fall and the days grow colder, we need to be aware of frost. From your restaurant freezer, to your distributor, to the farmer who grows your produce, frost plays a major role in the quality of your products, as well as the safety and freshness concerns you need to keep an eye out for as a restaurant owner. These quick tips can help ensure that your restaurant doesn’t get buried by the seasonal struggles of winter.

Frost in Your Freezer

What can frost in your freezer tell you? If you have a properly working freezer that is running without human error (i.e., workers leaving the door open), you should never have the kind of humidity or temperature increase that leads to frost. The most common reason for frost is employees doing inventory work in the unit; spikes in temperature lead to moisture developing and temperature abuse. In this case, frost can be a signal that the food environment in your freezer has become unsafe. That also goes for your truck deliveries. If your boxes show frost or moisture, don’t accept them. Call your distributor immediately and ask for new product ASAP.

Farmers and Frost

As colder weather affects crops, your costs will go up. If you’re part of a larger franchise, they should hopefully be operating with your (and their) best interest at heart, working to buy futures and locking in as many commodities as they can. If you’re still on your own for local produce, talk to your supplier about getting a contract to lock in pricing at a level above this or last year’s bottom, but below the average cost. This is important for items like lettuce, which can fluctuate drastically all season long. It’s important to lock in a price you can sustain long term.

Frozen Customers

The final danger of frost comes from the damage it can do your sales and customer base. If you’re in a region that can get caught with heavy snowfall, then you need to prepare for the worst. Look at the sales you had the previous winter to see how far they dipped in January and February. (Unless your restaurant is in a college or seasonal town, those are generally the lowest months for sales for restaurants.) If you compare those numbers with your average monthly sales, you can find out how much money to put away for the winter to ensure that when your sales dip you still have the cash needed to operate at full strength. Or, do this math equation: Take 70% of your top two months of sales, and put away half of that to balance you in the slowest months.