From insights come answers.

A series of articles from the Insider Pro consultancy team.

Real examples that show how we orchestrate supply chains and operations to remove constraints to growth, eliminate risks and improve profitability.

How to make a restaurant more profitable using Design for X (DFX)

Posted by Steve Hughes

Design for X (DFX) is typically used by manufacturing companies as part of their design process. Used in the kitchen, this process reveals the REAL cost and profit per menu item - an essential step towards improving restaurant profitability.

Typically, there are many phases in the design process for a manufacturing company, eg:

  • Design for manufacture
  • Design for assembly
  • Design for safety
  • Design for quality
  • Design for logistics
  • Design for serviceability
  • And more…

In other words, when designing a car, home electronic device or other complex piece of equipment, the designers work with experts in other fields to ensure that when the equipment can produced, used and maintained with ease.

A restaurant consultant can apply this thinking to menu items.

In the kitchen, we can consider elements of each the following in the design of every new dish:

Design for procurement

For example:

  • How easy will it be to get hold of each ingredient?
  • Are any ingredients subject to seasonal price fluctuations?
  • Is there more than one supplier available?
  • Can we buy and store in bulk and avoid waste?
  • What is the expected yield from each ingredient and what is the cost of the resulting waste?

Design for preparation

For example:

  • What is the cost of any special equipment to prepare the dish?
  • What is the cost and what time is needed to clean and prepare that equipment ready for the next use?
  • How long will it take to prepare the dish and what skills are needed?
  • Does the preparation of this dish cause any bottle-necks in the kitchen that may slow the production of other dishes?
  • Does it need any special skills?
  • Can the dish, or some of its components be prepared in advance?

Design to serve

For example:

  • What is the cost of buying, using and cleaning special equipment to serve this dish? (eg glasses, dishes, knives)
  • How can we avoid confusion between similar looking dishes / drinks so that the server gets it right without adding cost? (eg How do we ensure that a gluten-free version is not mistaken for one containing gluten)

When menu design work is carried out using DFX principles, we can clearly work out the real cost per dish.

It’s not just the cost of the ingredients, it is the cost of all the labour and any special equipment used to prepare and serve the food, plus the cost of wasted ingredients and a proportion of overheads.

Simply reducing the variety of shapes of glassware used in a cocktail bar can make huge differences to efficiency.

Honing the menu promptly to take account of seasonal variations has an immediate impact on costs.

Minimising waste is a huge cost issue.  Designing dishes and combinations of dishes to minimise waste and prep time is critical.

Using a DfX approach takes time, but can be extremely enlightening. It's just one of the tools we have available when businesses in the UK Casual Dining sector invite us to show them how to make a restaurant more profitable.

To find out more about our approach to improving restaurant profitability, download our eBook "The secret sauce of restaurant chain profitability".

Discover, in 60 pages, some real insight into the way restaurants compete for the consumer £ in today's highly competitive, cost sensitive market.

Download the Secret Sauce of Restaurant Chain Profitability


Topics: Restaurant efficiency, Restaurant profitability