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3 ways using supply chain data can streamline menus and help ensure supply

Learn how data analysis can help streamline offerings without sacrificing variety
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants have a lot to keep track of when it comes to menus: which items are selling well, which items require seasonal or specialized ingredients and which items aren’t very popular. And to stay profitable, it’s crucial to ensure that everything on the menu is worth being there and is pulling its weight. But keeping track of these things can be tough, and so is predicting what will happen in the future and how to plan for it when placing orders with vendors and suppliers.

One way to get help, though, is by conducting a menu audit and supply chain analysis. If supply exceeds demand—or if demand exceeds what suppliers can offer—it can cause losses on both sides of the deal. By conducting menu analysis and a supply chain audit, restaurant operators can gain insights on what’s working and what’s not, allowing them to simplify their menus without sacrificing quality or variety. What’s more, being part of a GPO can also help ensure restaurants always have access to the things they need to stay up and running.

Here are a few ways that auditing the supply chain and analyzing menu data can help streamline operations and ensure success.

1. Managing inventory as related to customer demand and preferences

Ensuring vendors have the products they need is of paramount importance for operators. By working with an efficient, reliable supplier, restaurants can be sure they’ll always be able to get the ingredients and products they need to create the dishes their diners love. Of course, it can be difficult to find those reliable suppliers.

One way to remedy that uncertainty is by becoming a member of a group purchasing organization, or GPO. By being a GPO member with Consolidated Concepts, for example, operators have access to tools and resources such as a dedicated client manager—who can offer help with daily problem solving, technology training and more—and data-cleansing technology, which helps maximize revenue by analyzing purchase data.

Moreover, as a member of a GPO, operators have more leverage in finding reliable suppliers, which is important in general, but even moreso during the current COVID-19 pandemic. When pandemic guidelines started to impact restaurants, GPOs got to work to ensure their partners would have access to the supplies they required to stay in business. Bulk order fulfillment may be a bigger priority to some suppliers, so those are the orders that will be reliably filled every time. Operators can be confident that when they’re in a GPO, they’ll always have preferred access to the foods and supplies they need for their menu, no matter what’s going on in the world at large.

2. Plan for the future based on past data and future projections

Menu analysis, when compared to data from supply chain orders, can give operators a clearer view of how menu items are performing on a week-to-week basis. In other words, if certain things seem as if they’re selling well, but ingredients for them are being ordered less and less frequently, it becomes clear that the menu item isn’t as successful as was thought. Likewise, items that are sleeper hits and need more frequent ingredient replenishment can be given priority on the menu—and on orders.

In short, by analyzing the supply chain, operators may gain valuable insights about their menu that can inform how they order in the future.

3. Eliminate poor-selling items and make menu changes

In a similar vein, once operators know exactly what’s selling and what’s not, they can adjust menu offerings based on those results. Restaurants can eliminate poor sellers and items that are hot tickets can be tweaked a bit or riffed on so that operators can offer similar versions of popular dishes. By riffing on popular dishes, operators can expand the menu without having to add dozens more ingredients to their orders. For example, if a popular breakfast item is a fried chicken biscuit, operators may consider putting fried chicken on the lunch or dinner menu if it’s not there already or broaden available bread choices for sandwiches to include biscuits.

Menu data analysis and supply chain refinement can help operators plan, streamline their menus and trim waste. And being a GPO member can contribute even more to those benefits and can ensure operators always have what they need to serve their customers. To learn more about how GPOs can help streamline supply chain issues and more, visit consolidatedconcepts.net.

This post is sponsored by Consolidated Concepts

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