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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Food Cost Software Follow Up

We had a huge response to the food cost software newsletter.  I'd like to respond to everyone who wrote to me by category:

Why purchase a sophisticated (complicated) software tool?

The answer for this question depends not just on the complexity of your business but also on your use of the word SIMPLE.  Often in technology you will find it is very expensive to get a simple solution.  The iPad is a great example.  Apple spent many hours in development to get a light weight, fast, easy to use solution.

In accounting software (food cost control is based on a cost accounting model), you need to define the reports you want to receive first.  Then you need to imagine how complicated your operating environment is for an outsider to learn.  Pretend you are hiring someone who needs to know everything you know regarding food production.

If you have a 100% from scratch menu, you may want a sophisticated package.  As long as you prepare the same items each day, you would see a benefit.  If you go to the market everyday to shop around, I wouldn't bother.  You need a fast recipe card system to quickly get a feel for what you need to charge.

Every organization with multiple concepts and/or multiple profit centers, may be disappointed in the long run if they go with a cheap solution.  Profit center accounting is demanding and requires a solid structure designed to handle the comparison and history reports.

I have never used this type of software before.  Should I spend thousands of dollars to get the reports I need?

Unfortunately, food cost control software tends to become shelfware (not used) for many companies.  They build the original database and get excited about the recipe costing capability.  Many stop cold at this point.  These light users may return once a year to update menu prices.

The decision to invest heavily in cost control software depends on your willingness to constantly enter details of invoices each day.  On a POS system, the wait staff is performing your data entry work as they send orders to the kitchen and bar.  There is no data entry staff in your back office performing up-to-the-minute updates.  If you want a perpetual inventory system to control theft in real time, the purchase data needs to be as fresh as the POS data.

I am telling you there is a need to hire or train a cost control person or team.  Once you begin to see a much better return on the labor cost and time spent on cost control by switching to a comprehensive solution, the investment may make sense.

Are the low cost solutions the most simple to use?


Are the high cost solutions the most difficult to setup?


If you were in my position, would you buy a food cost control solution?

Yes.  100% sure.

To wrap up this follow up, I did receive emails from people using various solutions with a common concern.  It seems customer support is poor for many of these solutions.  I can tell by the tone of these emails the sales team over sold the prospect.  Most of the complaints were from people who found the project was anything but SIMPLE.

Marilyn Chapman's Positive View

After 3 rather tepid years the Holiday Catering Season came back full throttle in fourth quarter 2011 leading us all to ask, "Is Special Events Catering a new economic indicator"?  

Full service parties blossomed after several years of cancellations and attempts at "Do it Yourself" Events.   The clients' comments were repeatedly "we are just to busy to do this ourselves!"  This indicated a renewed desire to entertain. a confidence in the economic future and an acknowledgment that professional catering is a valuable, cost effective service.  

Sell out weekends in October, November and December resembled the seasons before the Recession with lavish menus and larger guest counts.   We hired staff for the first time in several years and had to use Social Media to get enough help. 

Maybe most significant - New Year's Eve is sold out!  

I would love to hear from other regions to know if this is a pattern. 

Marilyn Chapman
Wedding Event Coordinator

Delectables Fine Catering, Inc.
"The Bay Area's Most Prestigious Caterer"
969 Virginia Avenue, Inc.
Palm Harbor, FL  34683


Phone: 727-781-1200
Fax: 727-789-3401

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Pleasures of the Table

If you live in the Mid-Atlantic (or are planning a visit) and you enjoy a fantastic meal, you may wish to check out David Smelson's Pleasures of the Table blog.  He is a Micros POS wizard and he loves to go to lots of different restaurants.

Restaurant Data Pros

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