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Recent challenges for restaurants have included rising labor costs, increasing energy costs, and a persistent labor shortage. But the most challenging has been an unprecedented global increase in food costs. This trend has hit the casual dining segment particularly hard.
To give some context on rising food costs, the New York Times recently reported that current food and nonalcoholic drink prices were 19% higher than last year, the quickest pace of annual food inflation in more than 45 years.
Read how ATFC, Ltd., a Hospitality Group with over 20 locations, implemented MarketMan to tackle rising food costs, create an integrated technology ecosystem, and increase profitability. Find out how they were also able to cut time spent on inventory by 80%.Download Case Study
MarketMan helps restaurants quickly respond to these challenges and keep costs under control. Typically, MarketMan saves customers approximately 5% annually on Cost Of Goods Sold (COGS). By automating back-of-house operations, MarketMan’s platform offers operators a comprehensive feature set, including:
With a legacy as a technology innovation leader, ATFC adopted Point Of Sale (POS) platforms and integrated accounting applications years ago. And as SaaS technologies evolved and made sophisticated restaurant technology more available and affordable, they’ve accelerated their technology adoption in recent years.
Evolving manual workflows to an integrated SaaS workflow, Paul Sarlas, Managing Director at ATFC, Ltd., and his tech team know collaborative technology is necessary for operational efficiency. MarketMan, for over two years, has been a central part of ATFC’s technology ecosystem of POS, inventory management, HR apps, staffing & scheduling software, and more. Replicating a stable technology stack for four unique brands at 20+ locations employing 600+ employees was a key goal of ATFC’s technology evolution.
ATFC has recently adopted Toast’s POS solution. Paul mentions that “...technology interconnectivity was a requirement. We had been using a POS system that had integration issues with some of our software. MarketMan reseller Twice Baked, a consultancy that specializes in simplifying and integrating back-of-house operations for restaurants, recommended Toast and helped us integrate it with our tech stack.”
MarketMan has thousands of Toast integrations worldwide, and integrating Toast and MarketMan took the ATFC and Twice Baked teams just a few days. This integration seamlessly linked front-of-house with back-of-house to improve communication, analytics, and reporting. POS, reservation platforms, waitlist apps, seating management software, and inventory management are now effectively communicating at each location and accessed via the cloud to increase staff efficiency and productivity.
MarketMan integrates with the most common platforms and applications that restaurant operators use. Seamless integrations with all major food distributors, most POS systems, and accounting software means MarketMan can be tailored to almost any restaurant technology ecosystem. Integration partners include Toast, Lightspeed, Clover, Revel, Quickbooks, Sage, TouchBistro, SAP, and many more.
“Recently at ATFC,” Paul states, “We've upgraded our technology massively. We went from predominantly on-premise hardware and software to pure cloud. We now do weekly stock takes at every location. We can now also calculate Cost Of Goods Sold and variances in minutes and with much more accuracy than previously by using MarketMan.”
Staff at ATFC brands now count stock, and with MarketMan, managers can check variances at over 20 locations in minutes. With a focus on recipe profitability, MarketMan helps ATFC create recipes, and with MarketMan’s recipe costing feature – with just a few clicks – calculate menu item profitability and margin in near real-time.
Paul Sarlas mentions, "I now use MarketMan to oversee what goes on at every location to monitor profitability. At first, we envisioned just using it as an ordering platform, but after getting trained, we learned more about the functions that extend beyond the ordering features. We now use MarketMan to cost out all our recipes, replacing the previous manual workflow, which required spreadsheets. We were previously costing recipes annually, but with MarketMan, I can do in hours, once a month, what used to take a large team to do manually in weeks or months.”
“MarketMan delivers a powerful reporting capability,” he comments further. “I really like the pricing- and profitability-based reports. From COGS, Actual vs. Theoretical (the Variance Report), Recipe Costing, Menu Profitability, Waste Report, Irregular Prices, Purchase by Items, and Count Value, every report I use gives me the data I need to do my job. There's not one report that I prefer, but I really like the Actual vs. Theoretical report. But I use all of them. Every single MarketMan report that I use makes our teams more efficient.”
From an operations standpoint, Paul states that MarketMan “... gives me complete inventory insight and control for over 20 locations. And it's straightforward to use. I rapidly get the information I need about inventory down to a specific product count at any location. With their recipe costing software, MarketMan is incredible at helping me control rising ingredient costs. If I need to adjust costs for a recipe delivering decreasing profitability, it's two clicks of a button, and I'm in the recipe to adjust it. The data provided is immense, and how quickly I can accurately calculate COGS is valuable. The reporting helps us quickly identify what menu items are selling and where we need to evolve our menus to bolster profitability.”
Calculating menu profitability in the past was often more art than science. Everything from a pinch of salt to a slab of Kobe beef affects a restaurant’s bottom line. Without analytical insight into every ingredient in a menu item, manual calculations of menu profitability can be time-consuming and reactive – finding unprofitable recipes too late to stop their impact on profitability. But with the ability to create budget-friendly recipes with MarketMan food costing software, food service businesses like ATFC get an ingredient-level breakdown of every menu item that's dynamically updated in real-time. And with MarketMan’s Menu Profitability Report, profitability on a menu item is easy to calculate. This dynamic report updates with every purchase.
Paul Sarlas comments, "... in general, MarketMan has saved us a lot of time. We now review our recipes monthly. Previously, we would need two or three days, using spreadsheets, to review each product line. Now, we get updates automatically through MarketMan. We can also update prices in bulk, which helps us rapidly evolve recipes as required with an eye on profitability.”
Suppliers change prices often, especially in these times of rising food inflation. This makes it challenging to ensure you get the best prices for ingredients and supplies. With the Irregular Prices Report, MarketMan alerts operators of any price change in ordered supplies, enabling inventory managers to see which items affect profitability immediately. This data can be used to negotiate better prices with suppliers or to find a new supplier with more competitive prices.
Paul remarks on his recipe costing strategy, “If we get a price increase that comes through a supplier, and the supplier does not tell us, MarketMan does with the Irregular Prices Report. It helps us quickly respond to that price increase. We get price alerts on food items from MarketMan the next day. It delivers the info required to discuss options with my suppliers. I can shop with other suppliers on items that show rapid increases with our current suppliers. I’ve been able to renegotiate prices with protein vendors successfully using data from MarketMan.”
Battling global food price inflation, ATFC is using MarketMan to be disciplined and proactive about cost control. “The analytics it provides allows us to react quicker,” Paul mentions. “We’ve had some massive food cost increases this year, and given the high volume of our business, we often have a substantial food and beverage inventory. Through MarketMan’s automation, we get deliveries faster, and it's helped us to react quickly to rising food costs for high-volume ingredients. It’s also helped us better manage suppliers: we can instantly see rising ingredients costs from the supplier to help us strategize ways to reduce those prices, using multiple suppliers if necessary. We get this information straightaway from MarketMan. The minute we get the price update, we can adapt, preserving current margins or even increasing them.”
MarketMan also enables ATFC to do more than report on simple order, inventory, and operational data. Data from the platform offer deep insight to improve sales and marketing activities. MarketMan details top-selling menu items with a simple-to-use graphical interface. ATFC’s team started menu engineering using data from MarketMan, spotlighting what’s top-selling, where are they on the menu, and investigating lower-performing menu items. Paul Sarlas states, "We started experimenting with quicker menu revisions using data from MarketMan. What menu items do we push to the top of the menu? The platform allowed us to test if menu engineering can help recipe profitability and if that can help increase sales. We use MarketMan to gather all that information, and of course, we have other useful software, but MarketMan leads them in profitability analysis.”
MarketMan’s GOGS report now generates near real-time insight into ATFC’s brands’ menu profitability. Impressed with how rapid COGS analysis and reporting can be done with MarketMan, Paul states, “We can select a restaurant or a product and understand what's been sold over a certain amount of time with just a couple of clicks of a button. Now, it's not a long, drawn-out manual process. I can get accurate COGS and variance analysis in an hour. The COGS report gives us the data to make data-informed decisions. Previously, this may have taken a full day of meetings with multiple teams to get accurate data. This is what makes MarketMan so valuable. Even remotely, I can access critical profitability data at 20+ locations and do it all myself.”
One of the primary benefits of MarketMan is increased organizational efficiency. Over 11,000 customers around the world increase labor productivity and operational efficiency (and profitability) through automating purchasing and ordering, and automating often time-consuming supplier management activities.
MarketMan has also enabled ATFC to optimize staff efficiency. Time-consuming tasks like inventory counts before MarketMan took two or three days. Today: half a day. “MarketMan saves so much time by freeing up both staff and managers so they can focus on more important tasks. Which is priceless.”
ATFC operates a high-volume enterprise, and the Internal Audit team orders at container-levels from around the world, with proteins coming from Argentina and Brazil. So rising food costs get examined very closely. Recent and steady increases have affected every food category – dairy, fruit, vegetables, dry goods, seafood, frozen ingredients, everything.
“MarketMan’s ability to help us maintain margins and strategize on our options to increase profitability is so valuable,” notes Paul. “Food cost is the greatest cost we have. The second is labor. So rising food costs impact the business most substantially.” There are times when ATFC will order a million pounds of meat over a holiday season. So reporting, transparency into purchasing, and cost controls have to be in place, especially in this period of seemingly ever-increasing food costs.
Interested in how inventory management and quicker profitability analysis can help your business respond to rising food costs? Register for a demo to learn how MarketMan can improve your profitability.
Talk to a restaurant expert today and learn how MarketMan can help your business