I’m writing this from the Atlanta airport making the most of a long layover. As it’s show season for the restaurant industry (the reason I’m in said airport), we’re adding a new section to this newsletter with a list of where you’ll be able to meet up with us [me]ople in person.
It’s also tax weekend, hopefully you have your taxes completed and are not going to spend the weekend in front of the computer. We have no tax advice to give, but we perhaps have been rifling through papers at the last possible minute in years past, so we empathize. If after this weekend you’re ready to throw in the dish towel and outsource your accounting, let us know, we can connect you.
After what was probably too long of a long hiatus, we are back with sending out product release notes! We’re planning to send them out on the regular. I'll link them for you every time so you don’t have to click around to find them.
I do have one request. I’m looking for a few restaurants who would be open to speaking to reporters. We have been getting more PR requests as we grow and I’d love to have some operators on the back burner to be able to reach out to. It’s usually a short phone call or email question. It’s free PR for you and if you are not interested in whatever the reporter is looking for just let me know and I will move along.
Know someone who would like to join our 43,000+ subscribers? Forward to a friend or send them this link.
- Tracy & the MarginEdge team
March National Restaurant Sales & Price Movers
By segment, Full Service stayed on top last month, ending with 5% sales growth and Fast Casual at 2% above March 2022's numbers. Overall sales ended up at 3% up from last year.
It was a good month for Branzino prices as they topped the Droppers list (down 31%), while Japanese cucumbers topped the Movers list (+88%).
Regionally, the West saw the biggest jump in sales compared to the end of February (ending at 4% compared to last March), no doubt thanks to better weather in March.
Dig in to the full report.
Clyde's, Washington, D.C.
Maryland’s crab season started in April, and our local paper (The Washington Post) declared a few years back “crab might be the most indulgent spring ingredient of all.” In a company full of former restaurant professionals, this might not be an agreed-upon sentiment.
Crab prices have fluctuated wildly over the last year, not as crazy as 2018 but if your menu includes crab, keep your eye on prices. Prices are looking favorable right now but weather and even local regulations can limit catches and cause prices to rise.
Let us know if you're adding crab to your menus this spring.
Fountainhead Pub, Vancouver, BC
ASK [me] ANYTHING
Should I let my bartenders give away drinks for free?
Your bartenders are giving away drinks, whether you admit it or not. So why not give them permission to do it and then track it? We checked in with fellow restaurant expert David Scott Peters and he had some great advice: Empower your bartenders to decide when and to whom the free drink will go, and let them make that decision up to two or three times a shift. They can track it and note what the drink was, why it was given and the retail value of the drink, or add a button to the POS. If they need to give more than two or three comps in a shift, then they should probably check with you. But if they come to you and ask if they can give a comp drink, you most definitely should answer yes! This process should stanch the theft of liquor and empower you bartenders to make decisions that are good for the business, not just for their friendships.
Ask [me] anything!
Really. Each month we’ll take a look at the questions we get and answer one here. Have a question about our product, accounting or restaurant operations in general? Email me or message us on our social media channels.
Bento, Orlando, FL
Order Inflation Up
Taking a look at this month’s Consumer Price Index Summary, there's an interesting dichotomy brewing. While food at home (aka groceries) decreased 0.3 percent compared to last month, the food away from home category rose 0.6 percent. It is worth noting the overall annual CPI is at a high of 8.8% for food away from home, a rate not seen since The Oak RIdge Boys topped the charts with “Elvira” (August 1981).
Our data shows March sales at 3% above last year, and we’re overall optimistic about 2023. More operators are taking advantage of technology to keep better track of food costs and taking a hard look at menu performance to have more stars and less dogs. NPR doesn’t see a slowdown in Americans eating out and a Mastercard Spending Pulse survey shows demand for dining out growing at 24.2% year over year.
'TIS THE SEASON
We’re seeing more and more operators taking new approaches to the way things have always been done. This is especially true when it comes to the employee experience, something that should be top of mind recognizing the staffing and labor challenges.
They’re pushing for change - looking to fair wages and equity, something tightly tied to creating more stable careers in the industry. Although the industry deals with generally tight margins, change doesn’t have to be out of reach.
Tip sharing (for example, tip pooling) is one model that has gained a lot of traction in recent years. It’s a low-lift way to have more equity among the entire team, without any major logistical or financial hurdles, and with minimal impact on the guest experience. If you’re thinking about tip sharing and wondering where to start, we’ve compiled some recommend reading for you:
The Guide to Equitable Restaurant Tip Payout Methods & Systems
Restaurant Tip Outs Guide: Methods, Tip Splitting, Pooling, and More
Tip Pooling Tools to Easily Manage Tips at Your Restaurant
State Tip Pooling Laws
Changing your tip sharing model can be intimidating to manage on paper, but there are tools to make it a much easier process when payroll comes around. Learn more here.
What's [me] into
✈️ WHERE WE'RE GOING
Restaurant Transformation Seminar (May 17-18, Las Vegas) - A two-day intensive in LasVegas with David Scott Peters. identify the most important systems for your restaurant and how to implement them while holding your people accountable.
National Restaurant Association Show (May 20-23, Chicago) - the one and only, the granddaddy of all restaurant shows. Our sales, marketing and partnership [me]ople will be there in full force, please stop by and say hello.
Sage Partner Summit (May 22-24, Las Vegas) - Got restaurant clients? We’ll be talking with accountants interested in growing and scaling their business. We would love to meet some more Las Vegas restaurant operators while we’re there.
Florida Restaurant Association Reverse Trade Show - The tables are turned at this opportunity in St. Petersburg where FRLA members market their services and products directly to the management of restaurants and hotels.
📖 WHAT WE'RE READING
2023 Restaurant Technology Outlook - Nation’s Restaurant News Intelligence, the research and insights division of Nation’s Restaurant News identified the biggest trends and potential solutions by surveying hundreds of restaurant operators. Note the PDF is gated but it’s totally worth giving them your email.
Branded Weekend Update - This weekly newsletter written by restaurant operators, technology investors and industry insiders delivers the latest stories shaping the foodservice, hospitality and investment worlds.
For Those Willing to Pay, a Website Promises the Hot Reservation - There’s a StubHub now for restaurant reservations, who would have thought?
🎧 PODCASTS WE'RE DIGGING
Restauranttopia - Interviews and success stories, along with insights on cost control, marketing, management and personnel issues. Tune in for marketing ideas and tactics from restaurant business experts.
How Leaders Lead - If you’re interested in leadership, the former CEO of Yum! Brands Robert Novak interviews some of the best leaders in America. You’ll be impressed by the depth of the interviews and actionable takeaways.
Secret Sauce - The last three episodes have been about 2023 trends and other episodes dive into marketing, email, profitability and helping operators find the “secret sauce” to find more customers and turn them into repeat customers.