Rob's Bistro opened in December 2009, but it was while running a previous restaurant, Resto - which was located right next door to Rob's -- that Ubhaus "first got hooked up with RestaurantOwner.com." Rob's average per-person dinner check is $35, and annual sales are $650,000.
Ubhaus calls the site's prime cost worksheet an "outstanding tool" that has helped him "really keep a great eye on daily and weekly food and labor cost figures so I'm not playing catch-up at the end of the month if something is wrong." He first used the business plan template with Resto, he recounts. Knowing a restaurant's costs based only on previous experience, he says, led to trouble.
By the time current food cost figure became available, he says, "it was like 10 days into the new month. You realize that your costs are too high and then you have to go back and figure it out -- but you're already 10 days into the new month."
Indeed, he feels the prime cost worksheet has been "absolutely fantastic. We put in food and labor every single day, and we put in sales and I know where I'm at every day, every week." "Those who feel recording numbers daily is too arduous a task should think again", he adds.
..This prime cost worksheet let's me say on Thursday, 'Wait a second -- why is my seafood a little bit high right now?' That will take me back into a harder look at the invoices. I may say, 'Oh man, my salmon price went up this week. Let me call up the company and see what their deal is. This lets me figure out what it's all about..
"The template is all set up for you. I am a 45-seat BYOB restaurant because New Jersey is crazy with liquor license laws, so I don't have alcohol sales to worry about. But all the formulas are done for you. Being a small business owner, I get four or five deliveries a day and I've got 15 employees, and it literally takes me less than five minutes a day to input my information."
And those five minutes help. "I look at the invoices every day and check prices," Ubhaus says. "This prime cost worksheet let's me say on Thursday, 'Wait a second -- why is my seafood a little bit high right now?' That will take me back into a harder look at the invoices. I may say, 'Oh man, my salmon price went up this week. Let me call up the company and see what their deal is. This lets me figure out what it's all about."
Staff operations have "absolutely" improved as a result, he reports, mostly because he shares so much information - and as a result, responsibility - with them.
"I'll go through the numbers with them," he says. "I'll say, 'Hey guys, we're running a little high this week - any ideas why?' Someone will answer, 'Oh yeah, you know what, I forgot to tell you, that case of lettuce was no good, so we had to order another one.' By sharing this stuff with them, if they forgot to tell me something or they missed something, I can go back to the company and say, 'Hey, listen, you sent me bad stuff, I want a refund, or I want credit on my account.'"
Being as open as he is with the numbers - now that he has reliable numbers to draw on - increases employees' personal stake in Rob's success. "Sharing all this stuff with them really lets them know the direction we're going in, whether or not they're doing a good enough job or if we need to improve on things."