Let’s look into strategies that have been tested and measured to give you results in reducing your cost of goods.
Ask for a better cost. When was the last time you asked for a better cost? The simple act of asking gets results. If the decrease is not that much, remember you are in this for the long game and over time it all adds up.
Join a buying group. The best way to leverage your buying power is to piggyback with someone else. Effective buying groups will have conditions attached to their membership, such as within liquor buying groups you have “first pour” requirements. This is where someone orders a vodka and soda and unless they name a brand, you pour the brand that you are required to provide. Just go into these arrangements with your eyes wide opened. They are not for everyone.
Negotiate win-win with your suppliers. I have helped businesses reduce their cost of goods by hundreds of thousands of dollars over a year. The strategy is considerably large and would require more information than this paper is designed to give. If you are interested, let's set up a time to discuss. This strategy is used by every FSR (Fast Serve Restaurant). It works but it takes effort and reasonable turnover. Best suited for multi site owners.
Portion control. This area can and does cost you a lot of money. What procedures are in place to train your team about portion sizes? At a business I visited (Baker's Delight), bakers were overloading their little pizzas with toppings as they felt they needed to do this to justify their prices. Items such as chicken, avocado, tomatoes and lettuce, if overused, can cost you a lot of money as the cost of these four ingredients greatly fluctuate with seasonality. Consider measuring what comes back from the customers to see what is left on their plates. Are there lots of uneaten fries or sauces? What about lettuce that fell out of the bun, indicating over filling?
Wait staff. Your team can influence your waste by helping the customers buy the meal that best matches their appetites. Consider asking "Are you hungry today?" or "Do you feel like a large coffee or a regular size?" These types of questions can make a difference to your cost of goods.
A Food and Beverage Margin Calculator. This does require effort, but the return is possibly the biggest I can offer you. I recommend you do this on an Excel spread sheet. If you are not great at Excel, go find someone who is. An example is shown below.
When you have your spreadsheet completed, sort all the products from the highest margin percentage to the lowest. Start with the lowest, do you ever sell any of these? Can you raise the price?