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EssentialMargins BOOST

For winning margins make sure your

food offer lives up to the quality of your coffee

EC has teamed up with training specialist Stonebow to bring you some handy tips on how to boost your profit margins on food

Gross profit watch: know your profit margins inside out, so first and foremost pay meticulous attention to your bottom line. If you are a small independent café aim for at least a 50% margin. If you are a large chain aim for 70% and 75% if you are at the luxury end of the market. Know your customer: when deciding what type of food you plan to offer, think about what your target customers want to buy to ensure you are catering to the right market. If your customer base is mainly lunchtime office workers, you need to focus on a simple menu that is quick to prepare and deliver. If your café is frequented by shoppers, then you should focus on a snack menu and coffee. You should also know your competitors well too. See what

they offer and how much they charge for the service. What would you do differently? If appropriate, consider increasing or decreasing your prices - but never overprice or undersell yourself.

Be a savvy shopper: consider using cheaper cuts of meat for your sandwiches, more unusual and cost effective species of fish, or seasonal ingredients such as game. Do not cut down on quality, just shop smarter. This should help you secure an excellent gross profit. Keep it simple: most consumers, especially in cafés, just want simple food executed to a high standard. If your outlet has limited equipment, skills and prep area then look at pies, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, toasted paninis, deli boards and hot drinks. If appropriate to your market, try introducing picnic baskets for the summer. Go local: customers deserve the right to know where the food they eat comes from, and sourcing local ingredients

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makes commercial sense. If you are on the tourist trail, remember that featuring local produce specific to your region is a great way of attracting customers to your café. It is not just any sandwich: think of the M&S adverts

when promoting your sandwich. Your BLT sandwich isn't a combination of just any bacon, lettuce and tomato. You use bacon from a local farm and organic lettuce harvested locally with sun dried tomatoes, served on freshly baked organic wholemeal bread with homemade chutney and crisps... Cut down on wastage: carefully plan what stock you

order and utilise your ingredients in as many ways as possible. For example, salmon can be used in a poached salmon sandwich and as smoked salmon pâté. Create your own spin-off: when fruits and vegetables are in season, buy extra and boost your profits by making jams, pickles and chutneys. These can be sold in the café and highlighted on the menu too. Menu to fit the times: if it is appropriate to your café,

consider introducing a value-driven menu on a set price during lunch and a higher priced menu in the evenings. Cater to the health conscious by having low fat, low carb options - especially during the summer months. And finally...find something you are good at and make it your speciality.

Stonebow ( is the training arm of People 1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism and offers 'Focus on Food for Profit' courses

Essential Café 41


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