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An understanding of comps and voids is key to loss-prevention in the restaurant business. Trust us, we know they can be a pain. What restaurant manager hasn’t had a night when your server approached you right before checkout with an appetizer comp that he didn’t tell you about? Or that time your till was short $7.99 because of a void you forgot to enter for a dish the cook never made?
Managers need to know the reasons for comps and voids when servers and bartenders request them. Whether a product is made will make a difference in reported sales and costs that have an impact on the restaurant’s operations.
For most restaurants, comp meals can typically represent 1-6% of sales. It’s industry best practice to keep comps somewhere around 3% of sales. Furthermore, your marketing spend (usually 2% to 4% of sales) may also incorporate comps in the form of free meals for VIPs or loyalty programs, so it’s important to look at your comps percentage holistically, from both your food and beverage and marketing budgets.
Loose supervision of comps and voids can impact the restaurant’s bottom line. Monitoring comps and voids can help open managers’ eyes to employees who make too many mistakes when taking guest orders, who need retraining on the POS or, in the worst cases, who are stealing from the business. But before we dive into all of that, let’s start with the basics.
The Exception: When food or beverage is made but the item is voided. This sometimes happens if an item is repurposed, like when the bartender makes a vodka tonic for a guest who changes his mind, but another guest orders the same vodka tonic.
Managers should track comps and voids three ways:
Keeping an eye on this data can help you discover some of the following trends in your restaurant.
It’s a sad reality of the business that comps and voids can be abused for theft. It is possible that employees with a high percentage of comps or voids could be stealing from the business. Managers should watch for employees who do the following:
If you’re comping a large number of dishes, it could also mean that too many mistakes are being made.
If you’re noticing your profits dip, it may be time to give your team members a refresher on the appropriate times to use comps and voids.
As a restaurant manager or operator, be alert and inquisitive when comps and voids arise. Most of the time, they are natural byproducts of a bustling business, but as trends emerge, you need to know when to take action. Back office solutions can provide visibility into comps and voids. And with HotSchedules’ Clarifi intelligent back office platform, managers can gain insights into these trends without having to decipher a complicated report.
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