Overheard at NRA Show 2018

This year at the National Restaurant Association show, we had the chance to meet with existing clients, growing restaurant chains, and industry enthusiasts. While attendees tasted innovative new spices, plant-based proteins, globally infused desserts, and a plethora of chickpea-based butters and snacks, we had the chance to converse with them about their contracts, growth plans and cost-savings opportunities.

Several of the topics top of mind for them were similar to the discussions being held at the expos and demos throughout the halls. What will all this new technology mean for their business? How will they be affected by new tipping laws, the GDPR, or new labeling requirements? But beyond the trendy panel topics, we heard a consensus that is true for every entrepreneur and owner—how do I balance a growing business with thin margins and rising costs?

At Consolidated Concepts, these worries are familiar. We work regularly with restaurants and operations that are seeking new opportunities to reduce costs and scale operations while franchising out locations, balancing various distributors across states, and ensuring they’re getting the best prices for their procurement budget. Overall, we found three areas of concern from show attendees and ways to ease concern.

Cost of Labor

A top concern was the rising cost of labor. With new tax regulations, the minimum-wage hike, and the changing landscape for hires, it’s understandable that operations are struggling to hire top talent and keep them. 36% of restaurant operators name staffing as their biggest challenge to success (source) and with over 16.3 million restaurant jobs available across the country and a much smaller talent pool, it’s no wonder so many struggles to hire and keep top talent.
At Consolidated Concepts, we offer a variety of tools to help reduce labor costs and increase productivity and product savings. Our Supply Chain Assessments allow our staff to look closely at our clients’ purchasing, storage, and handling practices to find a specific time and labor savings opportunities. Furthermore, our CC101 library offers more insight and information about the products that restaurants are currently purchasing. We look at current ordering tendencies and uses of current products. CC101 then offers alternatives that better fit the specific purpose of the product as well as offer better pricing on these items.

Avoiding Recalls

We all saw the recent seismic effect of the romaine recall on Panera Bread, other restaurants, and even grocery stores. Food-borne illness outbreaks cost restaurants around $15.6 billion annually. A recall at your operation can cost you in lost sales, profit margins, PR, and marketing costs and the ramifications can last long after the recall.

We partner with Fresh Concepts to ensure you’re always in the know on produce recalls within three hours of their announcement. Fresh Concepts focuses on ever-changing food safety standards including SQF, GFSI, GAP, and GMP, and holds their growers, shippers and distributors to the highest standards of financial stability, inventory turnover practices, and pricing agreements.

Contract Coverage

Many of the multi-unit operators with whom we spoke acknowledged that while they may have direct contracts on their top-volume items, they were less sure of their pricing on the remainder of the items they purchase. Custom contracts take time and expertise to negotiate, plus they restrict operators to certain terms to which they may not wish to be bound.

This is why so many operators find Consolidated Concepts’ volume-based blanket contracts to be so valuable. Our clients have access to over 100,000 line item contracts with more than 300 manufacturers available at their fingertips to cover all of the items they purchase, including food products, non-food items and indirect spend programs. These contracts allow operators to save money instantly by accessing deviated prices and rebates on items where they wouldn’t necessarily have enough volume to warrant investing time in securing a direct manufacturer contract. Additionally, our partnership with spend management specialists, Buyers Edge allows us to manage and audit all of those contracts to make sure that every single line item is appropriately priced. Clients who leverage Consolidated Concepts’ contracts as part of their existing supply chain team’s operations are able to uncover significant savings on products they already buy or to upgrade to products that might enhance their customer offerings, without sacrificing margins.