Managing Waste & Loss in Your Coffee Shop

Loss is going to be one of the biggest thorns, but with careful planning it can be managed. Loss will occur through waste and through poor ordering practices. Here are two ways to manage loss.

Keeping Track of Waste

Waste can kill you with its spiraling costs. Waste occurs when:

  • A drink or food item is improperly made
  • Expiration dates pass before the items are used
  • Proper portion control methods are not employed

Improperly made items are going to happen. As new staff members learn the ropes, they are going to mess up a few drinks. Even experienced staff will sometimes mishear a customer and make the latte with 2 percent milk when the customer asked for soy. If you see a problem consistently happening, try to identify the root cause to keep it from repeating.

Ordering only what you need will help with using everything before the expiration date. This might be tough as you are just starting out and finding the rhythms of your business. And sometimes those things just happen in the zeitgeist; one day everyone wants blueberry muffins and you run out, so you stock up the next day and none of them sell at all.

Keep a Waste Log

Keeping a waste log will help you track the costs associated with both items above. The list can be created several ways. You can create a table where employees fill in the item that was thrown away, the reason (past expiration, for instance), and the cost. Or you can create a table that lists all perishable items in your shop and track what is wasted due to expiration or improper preparation.

Compare the waste log to your ordering log on a weekly and monthly basis. The analysis will help you identify trends and better target the quantities that you order. Use this log as a tool to help you track what you go through so that you can alter your inventory as needed to reduce waste.

Use Portion Control

As for portion control, start by explaining the cost of each item to your employees. When you set the prices for your menu, you likely broke down every drink and sandwich into its components and priced accordingly. Now take your employees through this exercise to show them how it is done. Your employees might think an extra shot of flavored syrup at no charge makes customers happy. Show them how much that extra shot adds up to over the weeks, the months, and the year. Explain how significant loss affects your profitability and, therefore, any increases in wages.

If you prepare food, use scales and standardized recipes. Whenever possible, give your employees tools that they can measure with. If a bowl of soup is 16 oz, then buy a ladle that is 8 oz with the understanding that customers only get two ladlefuls. You can also buy shot glasses that are marked with fill lines. Education is always going to be your key to reducing waste. Tracking costs by maintaining a waste log can help you translate mistakes into dollars and cents for you and your staff.

Related Business Ideas