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{ 10 Tips for Trimming Dining Costs } of opportunity,” says Nick Olla, senior


director of culinary services at Merrill Gardens, where 30 communities feed 4,500 people a day. “We go through $50,000 in bacon


each quarter, and I am on the phone constantly with vendors over that. Maybe 95 percent of those calls go nowhere, but it is worth it for those 5 percent. If I can save 20 cents on a case of bacon, that is real money to me,” he says.


3. Keep it fresh.


“Te secret is to stay true with what has worked for you, and for us that means cooking the food from scratch,” Jeffrey says. “For me, that’s 85 to 90 percent of what we make. If we make rolls, we buy flour. You can buy a box of rolls for $30, you can buy a box of high-end pancakes for $40, but you can buy a 50-pound bag of flour for $25 and you can cook everything you can think of. Same with ground beef. You can make spaghetti


C


and meat sauce, or Salisbury steak. When you buy the stuff already made, you can’t do that. And you get a better taste and a better presentation when you do it from scratch.”


4. Buy the whole list.


“It starts with your purchasing pro- gram, your entire program, making sure you are getting the most bang for your buck,” says Merry Schellhase, who feeds about 2,000 people a day as VP, dining


and hospitality, for Harbor Retirement Associates. “I recently put together the top 200 items that we purchase from our vendor and sent that out to bid with a lot of dif- ferent GPOs and vendors to have them give their price for comparable products, as well as any rebates or extra savings they were able to give back to me. I looked at the individual pricing, but basically I looked at what the bottom dollar was. Otherwise, you are cherry picking and that takes a long time. In


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the end, I found an opportunity for at least 8 percent savings, and we did end up changing vendors.”


5. Big flavors.


To save in the long run, look at the food itself. “If you use bold flavors, you can use less costly ingredients—for example, by doing a Brussels sprout with sriracha sauce, or a normal vegetable with an


upscale herb or spice,” says Dana Fill- more, health-care marketing manager


“It’s about really understanding the job and even break- ing it down to how long the individual tasks take. If you can do that, it creates phenomenal efficiency.”


--Joe Cuticelli, CEO of Sodexo Seniors North America


at Gordon Food Service. “You can use things like lemon zest to increase the flavor value while being able to purchase a less-costly cut of protein and dress that up with these more affordable flavors.”


6. Keep timely records.


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Don’t wait weeks to check the check- book. “Make sure you post every purchase you make to a spend-down or a checkbook as soon as you place the order,” Schellhase says. ”You should have a starting figure at the start of each month and every time you spend some money, you should be posting that immediately. Don’t wait for the invoice to come in, because then you’ll forget that you spent that money already.”


7. Manage time and tasks.


Time on the clock drives up expenses, but how to keep headcount down on any given day? “It’s about really under- standing the job and even breaking it down to how long the individual


24 SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 | WWW. ARGENTUM.ORG


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