The Best Recipe for Higher Profitability

The art of balancing costs, quality and value can be challenging. Designing your menu is the fun part, but creating a menu and price points that will enable you to maximize profitability, satisfy diners and grow requires a diligent focus on the bottom line.

To get a better handle on costs, more operators are using Menu Profitbuilder Pro (MPP), a proprietary, computer-based analytics program that calculates the cost of recipes and menu items in minutes. The program is free for US Foods customers and can link their point-of-sale (POS) systems with their US Foods account to ensure calculations are based on up-to-the-minute food price and ordering information. MPP also allows operators to focus on those key factors driving the menu that are often overlooked but can make a significant difference in the profitability of restaurants and other food service operation.

“Instead of guessing, MPP gives operators a quick snapshot of the real costs of every item on their menu,” said Mark Smoler, territory manager, US Foods. “It’s an amazing tool for customers because numbers don’t lie.”

One of Smoler’s customers having great success with MPP is Epic Burger, an all-natural, eco-friendly restaurant with six locations in the Chicago area and a seventh under construction. (Click here for more on Epic Burger.)

“Before MPP the process of getting numbers was brutal and never felt super accurate because we were never sure we were capturing all of the nuances of fluctuating prices,” said Brian Walsh, director of operations and training, Epic Burger. “Now we import a file and get more accurate weekly reports to verify exactly where we’re at. We have better, truer numbers to operate our business.”

With just a few clicks, Walsh can also use MPP to run profitability scenarios on menu items and recipes if, for example, an ingredient is added or eliminated, or a portion size is increased or reduced.

“MPP allows us to take the theoretical and turn it into actual numbers we can use to make more informed decisions about pricing and inventory,” Walsh said. “We now capture everything that goes on the burger, everything that goes in a shake and know exactly where we stand on everything.”

Smoler said another benefit of MPP for Epic Burger is that it reduced the number of databases and spreadsheets executives must review from four to two—and he’s working on cutting that to just one comprehensive, easy-to-understand spreadsheet that details costs, sales, inventory, profitability and other financial issues.

“MPP is a more organized way to do business and Epic Burger now has tighter control of costs for each of their menu items,” Smoler said. “There are $4,000 and $5,000 software systems out there that will do similar things, but MPP is a value-added service US Foods provides to customers at absolutely no cost.”

US Foods customers can contact their territory manager to get Menu Profitbuilder Pro at no cost. A US Foods specialist will visit to install the system and provide training.

“MPP is great for anyone who needs to get control of menu costs,” said Frank Mire, territory manager, US Foods. “It’s especially effective for multi-unit operations because it gives owners and managers a broad yet detailed look at costs and areas where they can become more profitable.”

As important, Smoler said MPP also strengthens the relationship TMs have with customers.

“It really opens up the line of communication and level of trust between the operator and territory manager because MPP provides such important information so quickly,” he said. “You are empowering the customer and for that, they trust you even more."