Cost of Convenience in Foodservice

It’s constantly in the news: labor is tight in the US and foodservice operations are no different.  Operators can’t get enough help and when you do get a new team member, maybe they don’t stay long enough to get the training needed to add value, so you are constantly training.  

Inflation is hitting our restaurants on the chin. Cost of labor and the cost of goods are higher. Gas costs more, import costs are crazy and the supply chain seems completely screwed up.  

With the double challenge of labor and inflation, I started thinking about the cost of convenience for restaurants. When I go by a Cinnabon at the airport, my senses start reacting. A bit like Pavlov’s dogs, I start salivating. The aroma is overwhelming!

As a foodservice operator, do you need to go through all the work that Cinnabon does? What is important in your situation?

Operators have choices for cinnamon rolls and other baked items:

  1. Buy premade frozen cinnamon rolls for foodservice that are pretty good. Just thaw & serve. Low labor, higher costs, lower gross margin.
  2. You can buy premade dough, let it proof, bake it off and enjoy the aroma. A bit more labor, moderate food cost.
  3. You can work the dough, add the butter and cinnamon sugar, proof, bake, and create the crave, like Cinnabon. Higher labor costs, lower COGs and higher gross margin AND because they create the crave, higher total margin!

So, Cinnabon chooses a bit of a show, with aroma and building cinnamon rolls to attract customers. They have a higher labor number, but that is their trade off.

So, what are your tradeoffs? Labor vs. convenience, quality vs. speed, panache vs. ease of preparation, controlled quality vs. risk of inconsistency? Are there innovative solutions which maintain quality?

Take a look at brownies! At my nearby Chef’store, I can buy a ½ sheet pan Otis Spunkmeyer frozen baked Brownie for $20.25 (80 oz.) or I can buy Krusteaz Professional Fudge Brownie mix for $14.15 (124 oz.). I think that makes a full sheet pan (twice as much as the frozen product). By adding a little labor, an operator can have significantly lower COGs. What is right for you? Speed, freshness, aroma, convenience?

In the brownie world, it seemed the only options were scratch, mix or prebaked/frozen.  I was talking to Megan Cushman from Continental Mills recently. They have Brownie Mix in the Bag! What a great innovation! Not only can you customize your brownies, but you speed preparation. Maybe you can have your brownie and eat it, too?

Foodservice sellers: what innovative, unique products and services do you bring to your customers? Take a look at how US Foods sells their SCOOP program. For many items they say the amount of time the operator can save buying a product.

Operators: Are you looking for the right innovation in products? How can we help?

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