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Running a restaurant is hard enough without having to deal with all of the unexpected expenses that come up. While some unforeseen spending is unavoidable, there are ways for a savvy business owner to avoid most of the unexpected restaurant expenses.

What Causes Unexpected Restaurant Expenses

To understand how to avoid unexpected expenses it is first important to understand why they happen. Often, expenses occur regularly but seem unexpected because there is no one who is tasked with keeping track of expenses over time, neither are they keeping a schedule of when they will occur again. Additionally, it is often an unfortunate assumption that an appliance, like the ice machine, will work without fail forever. However, it is a part of doing business that the machines that you use to create the atmosphere and food in your restaurant will not only need repair but replacement.

There are also the smaller unexpected expenses like running out of supplies and food items quicker than anticipated due to waste or other reasons especially for those items that are necessities that you will need to purchase elsewhere at retail prices once you have gone out of stock. Fortunately, there are solutions you can implement to avoid unexpected restaurant expenses that will benefit the business in multiple ways.

Hire an Operations Manager to Track Unanticipated Expenses

If your business is constantly struggling to keep up with expenses and cannot grasp where they originated or how often they occur, you need an operations manager. An operations manager is there to ensure that your restaurant is performing at its best. They keep track of productivity and efficiency and should supervise supplies and inventory as well as the budget. The goal of having an operations manager on staff is that they will remember the big unexpected expenditures of the past and see the patterns.

If you have chosen the right operations manager, they will be able to look at the daily operations and see patterns emerging from the use of equipment, standard business practices, and past expenses. They should be able to anticipate the unexpected regulatory bills, employee expenses, and equipment malfunctions that come with the operation of the restaurant based on their experience in the industry.

Avoid Unexpected Expenses by Implementing a Preventative Maintenance Schedule

The best way to avoid having to replace or repair a broken cooking range or other equipment is to know the preventative maintenance schedule of the appliance and to adhere to it. Preventative maintenance is all the regularly performed maintenance that includes not only the daily cleaning and things like filter changes but also the maintenance performed to reduce the chances of equipment breaking down suddenly.

Approximately 80% of companies that keep track of their maintenance needs, use a CMMS or computerized maintenance management system and find that they have improved equipment life. This improvement in the life of their restaurant equipment is due to the constant vigilance of their management staff aided by a simple application that ensures all equipment is given necessary repairs and updates on a schedule that makes sure the equipment is operating efficiently and avoids having to spend money on new costly equipment before it is considered obsolete.

Create an Environment Where Conservation is Valued to Avoid Unexpected Restaurant Expenses

To avoid unanticipated expenses, that come from waste, try to create an environment where your employees value conservation. By teaching employees to conserve goods and resources, you avoid running out of supplies before your scheduled delivery date. For some restaurants, this can become a problem when you must purchase necessary disposable items at retail rates due to overuse by your staff.

Conservation does not have to end with disposables and supplies, it can continue with conserving energy by making sure your employees aren’t leaving the walk-in fridge doors open. Some restaurant staff have the habit of leaving the doors open when making multiple trips back and forth from the fridge to other parts of the restaurant. While this saves them some time, it can waste tremendous amounts of energy and tax the compressors of your equipment making them work harder. To avoid unnecessary repair expenses, it is important to ensure that your employees do not force your equipment to work harder than necessary. 

Minimize Unexpected Restaurant Expenses by Establishing Long-lasting Relationships with Suppliers

Establishing a lasting business relationship with your suppliers will help to negate unexpected supply expenses. A thriving business will always find a need for more supplies, but a good relationship allows your vendor to learn about your business and offer you packages and deals that work to keep you happy. They may be able to see that you are consistently requesting a sooner delivery of take-out boxes and offer you a better package deal that adequately supplies your needs.

Furthermore, by utilizing a long-lasting business relationship, you can learn about any seasonal or annual specials your supplier may run and if you have implemented some of the previous steps to avoid unexpected restaurant expenses, you can preplan your extra expenses around those sales and deals saving money and avoid the unexpected.

Overall, preplanning and careful attention to detail are at the core of avoiding unexpected expenses at a restaurant. The old adage goes “those who fail to plan, plan to fail,” and the best way to succeed at avoiding the unexpected is to plan for it in advance.

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