Targeting Groupon Diners

If I had been the founder of Groupon when Google offered up $6 billion for it, the door wouldn’t have hit me on the back-side as I rushed to the bank to cash the cheque! While I think Groupon is an interesting concept, they are really greedy, and ultimately, it will be their downfall. Let me explain.
Groupon seeks out businesses that are willing to offer deep discounts for their goods and services. Usually, the discounts are around 50%. Groupon takes another 25% or so for publicizing the offer and collecting the funds from the bargain-hunters. That leaves the business with only 25% of what it would normally take in on a sale.
Groupon talks businesses into signing up by claiming that they may lose a bit on the first sale, but they will make it up on subsequent sales. Nonsense. Alternatively, if businesses have excess capacity, they can accommodate lower-paying customers, because they only have to cover the incremental (or marginal) cost of servicing the customer. This works for spas and other similar businesses. There aren’t too many businesses that have a marginal cost less than 25%.
What about restaurants? They are probably the most popular Groupon category, based on demand. Is it worth it for a restaurant to sign up for Groupon?
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How to Compare Your Restaurant

It is almost impossible to compare a restaurant’s operations with industry averages.  Organizations like the CRFA aggregate the smallest mom-and-pop with the largest chains to get their averages.  Not many restaurants are “average”, anyway.  Just about all industry statistics are based on surveys, not actual operating results.  Even though such surveys are anonymous, who wants to put down that their cost of sales is 40% or more?  So, the results are often skewed.
There is another way of compiling restaurant operating results.
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Restaurant Fraud & Theft – Part IV

The first three posts in this series covered fraud and theft of products entering the establishment, food theft, and alcohol theft.  Now, we’re going to look at outright theft of sales receipts.  While it’s unlikely that your servers are grabbing handfuls of dollars on their way out the door, today’s post looks at several more sophisticated methods of achieving the same result.
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Restaurant Fraud & Theft – Part I

IT NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO BE SOLD
Today’s post covers fraud and theft of stock items before they are sold or used in your establishment.  These types of fraud relate to purchasing, receiving and inventory stock keeping.  Subsequent posts will cover additional types of fraud and theft.  These posts discuss one of the most important issues facing restaurateurs.
Any theft of product for sale can result in significant sales and income tax liabilities.  So significant, in fact, that it could put your restaurant or bar out of business.  My restaurant tax blog, Canadian Restaurant Tax Advisor, has a wealth of information about restaurant tax audits and their dire implications for you.
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Cost Control is the Key to Survival

AbacusWhile there are some signs that we may be emerging from the recession, I think you’ll find that consumer behaviour has been changed, perhaps for many years to come.  Even your “well-off” customers are much more price conscious that they have ever been before.  Actually, they are more value conscious.  In order to “survive and thrive”, you have to continuously monitor your restaurant’s value proposition.
While there’s more to the value proposition than your menu and prices, these are the two aspects that can be adjusted fairly easily in the short-term.  These are also the two areas that most restaurateurs fiddle with first, when times get tough.  We could probably add labour into the mix, too.
Recessions always harm the restaurant industry.  People lose their jobs (or worry that they will lose them), cut back on meals outside the home, and spend less when they do go out.  Most restaurants experience a drop in both volume and check averages, often severely reducing (or eliminating) their profits.  To cover their fixed costs, restaurateurs will try everything to keep the customers they have and steal their competitors’ customers.  Most start with price reductions, either through coupons and discounts or with across the board price reductions.  It doesn’t take long to realize that quality or portion sizes have to be reduced to maintain profitable margins.  Easier said than done!
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Internal Controls for Fun & Profit

I confess, the title of today’s post was the best I could come up with to try and make internal controls sound interesting.  Truth is, the mere mention of internal controls makes most accountants’ eyes glaze over.  While they may not be “fun”, they certainly are profitable.  I’ll be writing extensively on the topic in the future, because the lack of effective internal controls will eventually destroy otherwise sound businesses.  It’s a tough task, but I will try to keep the discussions practical and avoid theoretical, technical details.
Internal controls are the backbone of your operations.  They help ensure that things get done the way they are supposed to and help ensure the accuracy of your financial reports.  They include both preventive and detective controls.  Whether you know it or not, you already have some internal controls in your restaurant.  The question is how good are they?
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