Spreadsheets are killing your food costs

The difference between profitable restaurants that run like clockwork and struggling restaurants with an exhausted owner isn’t about their sales volume, it’s about their systems. “Free” food costing calculators and spreadsheet templates are responsible for more failed restaurants than bad health department ratings. If you want results like the big guys get, use the tools the big guys use.

Listen, I’m a restaurant guy, too, and I get it. You need another monthly expense like you need a hole in the head. But if you’re still using spreadsheets to calculate recipe costs, you desperately need to hear why you’re leaving money on the table and how switching to a professional recipe costing app is actually cheaper than your “free” spreadsheets to the tune of a 2-5% increase in clean profits.

And what if I told you that instead of piling more on your already overworked shoulders, making this change will actually eliminate hours of pointless admin work?

It’s true. Users of reciProfity already know that profitable food costing is about more than the result of a simple formula. And to prove it, here are the top eight reasons why your spreadsheet is killing your margins, and how reciProfity can bring them back to life.

1. Your system is making your life harder, not easier

How many mind-numbing hours does it take to set up a recipe costing spreadsheet (yes, even a template that you download)? How much soul-destroying time do you want to spend each week copy+pasting, fixing formulas, looking up prices, and doing manual calculations instead of spending energy in your kitchen or with your customers? Can you really get enough accurate, actionable insights to make it worth it? Probably not, because spreadsheets aren’t designed for this.

But when you rely on reciProfity, you’re building your business on an app that gets stress-tested by thousands of operators just like you every day, and that’s built by a team of software developers and restaurant people who are working constantly to make it more intuitive, more user friendly, and more powerful.

2. Calculating selling prices is a slog

I built a recipe for a cheeseburger (took like 30 seconds):

and reciProfity suggests a selling price immediately:

Want to change an ingredient quantity? The target selling price updates in real time. Decide to charge $12 instead of $14? reciProfity tells you exactly what your actual food cost percentage and you margin dollars will be, and you never have to Google “food costing formula” ever again. Can your spreadsheet do that?

Pro Tip: if entering the recipe in your computer takes longer than testing the recipe in your kitchen, something is horribly wrong.

3. Your recipe costs are only kinda-sorta accurate

You and I both know that you don’t get 5 lbs. of sliced tomatoes from 5 lbs. of whole tomatoes, but accounting for that shrinkage in a spreadsheet is painful. You’re either wasting time calculating the same yields again and again, or you’re ignoring the shrinkage and throwing money in the garbage.

reciProfity’s integrated Book of Yields data makes it a breeze. Choose your ingredient from our database, and now reciProfity knows that sliced Roma tomatoes have a yield of about 93%

Back in our Cheeseburger recipe, choose the prep method “sliced” and the food cost updates to include the shrinkage.

That’s a 2-cent cost difference which doesn’t seem like much but multiply that by the all the cheeseburgers you serve, all your other menu items, and all your other ingredients (including expensive proteins!) and you’re looking at hundreds or even thousands of dollars in lost revenue each month because of inaccurate food costs!

4. Your ingredient prices are hopelessly out of date

Every morning after you check in your deliveries, do you spend another hour combing through your spreadsheets updating ingredient prices based on what you paid today? Probably not, because that sounds like a huge waste of time.

Unfortunately it also means that when you create new recipes, you’re working with old pricing data. Once again, your outdated system is forcing you to make the tough choice between inaccurate recipe costs or time-killing admin work.

We don’t believe that you should ever have to make that decision. With reciProfity, you just upload your vendor invoices and new ingredient prices instantly ripple through all your recipes so that you’re always working with the most current pricing info.

5. Price creep erodes your margins while you sleep

Sure, that pasta dish came in at a perfect 30% food cost when you put it on the menu 6 months ago, but what’s happened since then? Ingredient price creep is the silent margin killer and there’s no way to keep track of it without a system in place. You might notice when chicken breast goes up by $3.00/lb., but it’s the little jumps of a few pennies every week on things like flour, oil, mayo, and milk that strangle your margins like ninjas in the night.

Spreadsheets can’t help you fight back, but reciProfity’s Creep Alerts ping you whenever an ingredient price rises by more than 5% over 30 days, or when any of your menu items get knocked out of their target food cost percentage because of rising ingredient prices. The trick is to find out about price creep before a whole sales cycle goes back. With spreadsheets, you won’t be able to take action until after you’ve already taken a loss.

6. Spreadsheets don’t see the big picture

As restaurant people, we have a borderline unhealthy obsession with the 30% food cost. It’s a great place to start, but we don’t take percentage points to the bank, we take dollars to the bank (or to the shoebox under the bed). So the key to a profit-optimized menu is knowing which items contribute the most dollars to your bottom line over a whole sales period. This data comes from a combination of margin dollars (not percentage points) and sales volume.

Spreadsheets can’t show you that data; they only understand static percentage margins of individual items, not the contribution margin of the whole sales mix over time.

reciProfity’s menu engineering report combines your recipe costing data with your sales data, without you doing a single manual calculation, and tells you which menu items are actually making you money and which ones need some work. Oh, and reciProfity can painlessly import sales data from just about any POS system on the market.

7. Scaling recipes is a pain

A regular customer asks you to cater his wife’s birthday party. You put together a great menu of her favorite items from the restaurant, and now it’s time to scale your recipes up so you can give him a price and put together orders and a prep list.

Does this become a two-hour waking nightmare involving a calculator and pieces of paper strewn all over the bar? Or is it 3 clicks in reciProfity, like this?

As you see, smart scaling converts to the units of measurement that make sense for human beings. You’ll never see 487 tablespoons or anything silly like that. From there, it’s just a couple more clicks to add this recipe (and all its sub-recipes) to a prep list or purchase order.

8. How much does it cost you…for real?

So this all sounds good, but you really can’t justify another expense right now. I hear you, and I get it.

So let’s look at the numbers and see what that supposedly free spreadsheet or that paper and pencil is really costing you.

If you’re not using up to date ingredient prices, and if you’re not accounting for ingredient shrinkage, and if you’re not getting alerted to ingredient price creep, you’re missing an opportunity to lower your food costs by EASILY 2-5 percentage points. So if you’re running $50,000/month in turnover, that shakes out to an extra $1000-2500 straight in your pocket. You’d normally have increase sales by $10,000 to see a profit increase like that! And the best part is that you’ll have lots of free time to enjoy those bigger profit margins because of how much busy work reciProfity takes off your plate.

So the real question isn’t whether you can afford reciProfity, but how much longer you can afford to be without reciProfity.

Ready to get started? Go ahead and sign up for our 30-day free trial. We’re so sure that you’ll love it, we won’t even ask for a credit card. But hang on, let me sweeten the deal even more. If you’re ready to throw out those spreadsheets and level up your operation right now without any more excuses, we’ll give you a $20/month discount on our most powerful and most popular product, reciProfity Analyzer.