In food service operations, accurate and reliable forecasts of food production demands can help control food and labor costs. A lower incidence of overproduction or underproduction of menu dishes should reduce scheduled labor and production time and optimize the use of equipment. Forecasting for restaurants helps you make the most of available data, both in day-to-day decisions and in long-term planning. For restaurant owners and operators who always think two steps ahead, forecasting restaurant sales can be a key tool for facing future challenges.
In a restaurant, forecasting uses data to predict how much the company can expect in sales over a given period of time. At the macroeconomic level, sales forecasting helps a company set growth objectives and determine its overall profits and revenues. At the microeconomic level, forecasting helps a restaurant plan inventory orders and how many employees need to work each shift to prepare and sell food. An inaccurate sales forecast can result in wasted funds on labor, inventory, and even operating expenses for the restaurant.
The better the forecast, the more efficient and effective the food service operation will be. Whether it is to predict income, expenses, the amount of food and beverages that will be needed or the work hours to be scheduled. Accurate forecasting also means more efficient production schedules, better purchases, maintaining adequate inventory levels, and inventory turnover. Budgets are more accurate if long-term forecasts fit the objectives, which can result in more dollars available for projects such as facility maintenance and operation growth.
If a food service operation is effective at forecasting, profits can increase and the customer is also likely to benefit from lower menu prices and better service. This chapter is just a brief introduction to the importance of forecasting and some of the factors that need to be considered. Food service management students will undoubtedly benefit from a more detailed study of forecasting methods, models, and strategies. After you complete each sales forecast, set it aside and review it again once you've finished the time period to see how accurate your sales forecasts and inventory projections are.
If the forecast of the total number of customers for a given day is set to 1200, the percentage of each main course applies to this total forecast (see the column on the right of the graph above). Changes in supply and demand for various foods can cause you to put your sales forecast back on the drawing board. If you are forecasting the sales of a restaurant that you have been managing for a few years, you already have historical data that will help you plan the forecast for your restaurant. As manufacturers face these challenges by making forecasts over and over again, many are wondering if forecasting even benefits their operations.
Segments of education, such as elementary and secondary schools and the food service operations of colleges and universities, must analyze school enrollment, the academic calendar, current participation rates, and even the exact menu offering of the day could change the food forecast. Many operations use a concept called a “popularity index” to help predict how much of each menu item should be produced, given a general forecast of customer counts. Forecasting based on historical data can provide information about your two most important costs, food and labor, and help you make essential decisions about where to allocate your resources and when. The software eliminates most of the time-consuming manual work of forecasting sales, and can even create a perfect schedule based on projected sales based on forecasts.
Other initiatives that may affect the forecast include improving the quality of service, the renovation of facilities or “green” initiatives, such as a more sustainable supply, the use of compostable supplies, etc. In this post, we'll show you everything you need to know about forecasting sales in restaurants, from the reasons to make forecasts to the steps to create accurate forecasts and what you should consider when making forecasts for your restaurant. First, because if it's not on your shelf, you can't waste it, sales forecasting can help limit food waste. The customer forecast then uses the popularity statistics of the menu items to generate a forecast of the portions of the menu that details the number of servings of each item served at each meal.