How a Restaurant Saved Money by ‘Cutting the Pickle’

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The Client

This restaurant is located in a Twin Cities suburb and managed by an experienced general manager. Having operated in the same building for more than 70 years, the highly successful restaurant is a popular dining spot among locals.

Abdo, Eick & Meyers has worked directly with the city for more than 7 years to help prepare budgets and financial statements. Within the last few years, we’ve also helped the city’s restaurant manager create and implement a strategic business plan based on the restaurant’s annual budget. 

Part of this initiative has involved a monthly scorecard. Each month, we meet with the general manager and the city manager to review the scorecard. Although the scorecard is nothing fancy (it includes only the monthly budget goal and numbers from the previous year’s month), it’s proven to be a valuable tool for this astute restaurant manager. 

The Challenge

Like many Minnesota restaurants, the restaurant struggles with seasonality. Sales during the winter months of January and February are often slow. This year, February sales were particularly dismal, thanks to a record-breaking onslaught of sub-zero temperatures. The restaurant manager, knowing he was behind budget for the year and approaching another slow month, began to look for ways to reduce expenses without compromising quality. 

The Solution

While bussing tables after lunch one day, the manager realized he was scraping pickle after pickle into the trash. The restaurant had always served a dill pickle spear alongside its burgers and sandwiches, but it was clear the classic accoutrement was mostly going to waste. So, the manager decided to cut out the pickle. Instead of automatically adding pickles onto plates, the restaurant began serving them only upon request. 

The Results

By cutting the pickle, the restaurant was able to drastically reduce its weekly pickle order from seven 5-gallon buckets to one. This resulted in a 3% savings over the next 30 days. As an added bonus, not a single customer complained about the pickle-less plates, which was a relief for the manager!

The restaurant manager’s ability to track his monthly numbers—as well as his brilliance in observing operations and making innovative adjustments—allowed the restaurant to bounce back from its February freeze in no time. We were proud to be a part of the pickle-paring solution. 

A Few Closing Thoughts…

• Paying close attention to the numbers paid off for this restaurant manager. The monthly scorecard helped him know where his sales were and how much he needed to recover, which empowered him to take action. 

• A budgeting tool doesn’t have to be elaborate to be useful. Sometimes, simply having a clear picture of your financial data can give you the insight you need. 

• Even a small change can make a big difference. Think about it: How could you “cut the pickle” in your business? 

Until next time, 

Steve