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Protecting your bottom line

Food outlets use a large amount of gas and electricity as part of food storage and preparation. For a small business, this can mean a dent in profits if you do not keep a close eye on your bills. Kevan Enticott owns Perfect Clarity – an independent energy broker. He spends a lot of time working with businesses helping them to save money on their bills. Here he gives his seven top tips to becoming a greener business and saving money

Cooker fire1. Make your staff energy champions It is easy for staff to forget how much electricity can cost, especially when they are not paying the bills.

  • Encourage staff to turn off lights, ovens and equipment when not in use
  • Ensure that heating and hot water are set at the correct temperature and that you are not heating water wastefully
  • Don’t automatically switch everything on when you arrive in the morning; only switch on the equipment you need and you will find that you will quickly save money.

2. Make changes to the way you use heating and lighting

  • Switch to energy saving LED lighting, which is longer lasting and cheaper
  • Turn down the thermostat in your premises by 1-2 degrees; this can make a lot of difference to your energy costs
  • Regularly clean ventilation units and extractor hood filters, as this can increase efficiency and therefore reduce energy consumption.

3. Renegotiate your energy costs

Rather than unravel each of your separate energy contracts yourself while simultaneously trying to run your business, talk to an energy broker. Using an energy broker is free and will give you by far the biggest savings on your bills. Energy brokers work with a large range of suppliers to get you the best price – not just the big six. A broker has the advantage of the enormous buying power of thousands of customers combined. They have negotiated exclusive prices with energy companies and pass these lower prices on to their own customers.

Scales4. Are you on the right type of meter?

The most common meter is a single rate meter, with one unit price for all hours of day or night.

There are also two-rate meters, which have two unit prices, one of which has a cheaper off peak unit price for evening or night use (although the daytime price can often be higher than a single rate meter). Two-rate meters can be beneficial if you use a lot of electricity at night, for example with large refrigeration units running 24 hours a day, as the cost per kWh of electricity used will be much less than during the day.

5. Install a smart meter

  • Smart meters can be fitted by your electricity or gas suppliers; they replace your existing meter, and will send regular readings to the supplier
  • Your bills will be produced on accurate, not estimated, readings
  • Your energy supplier can give you access to the data online, so you can monitor electricity and gas use, and highlight the times of day when you  are using more energy than you need.

6. Submit regular meter readings

If you do not have a smart meter, get into the habit of providing regular meter readings to your energy company. You can easily do this over the phone or via their website – you just need your account number.

Sue HudsonSue Hudson runs Ashburton Delicatessen in Devon. “In my business one of my largest expenses is my refrigeration costs,” says Sue. “I run five fridges, four large freezers and a very large chiller counter. I found I was paying British Gas costs of £4610 a year in 2013 and they wanted to increase that to £5480 for the next 12 months. “Perfect Clarity helped me to unravel the complex world of the energy market and found me a new energy contract that has saved me £590 on what I was paying before. I have saved over £1000 on what I would have been paying if I had stayed with British Gas on the new prices they wanted to charge me.”

7. Choose a fixed price contract, not a variable tariff

If you are paying a variable rate, this will be much higher than you need to pay. Agreeing a fixed price contract for 1-3 years, or even longer, will cost you much less; you will pay the same price per unit used for the duration of the contract.

Do not be concerned about tying yourself into a 2-3 year contract if there is a chance you may be moving premises in the future. Unless you are on half hourly metering, there are usually no penalties for ending the contract early – so long as you pay for the energy you use up to the date you vacate the premises..

To find out more about how you could save money on your bills, visit www.perfect-clarity.com.

Going cashless for improved waste management

The amount of food that is wasted each year in the UK is equivalent to 1.3 billion meals, costing the UK hospitality industry over £2.5 billion, according to WRAP. Chris Lyons, Managing Director at Systopia International, explains how, by using cashless payment methods, you can both save waste and improve your bottom line.

While most caterers have practices in place to reduce excesses, such as installing recycling points, sourcing local produce and purchasing energy-efficient appliances, what many may find surprising is that through the implementation of new technologies, operators can overhaul their waste management and experience a direct impact on their bottom line.

Moreover, with the prevention of avoidable food waste potentially able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.7 million tonnes (CO2 equivalent), it is now more important than ever for caterers to assess their sustainability and find new ways to tackle their waste management.

Harnessing technology

With 920,000 tonnes of food waste produced by outlets each year, of which 75% is avoidable and could have been eaten, the need for caterers to manage their stock more efficiently is obvious. This is where technology such as cashless payments comes in. By investing in cashless payment systems, caterers will have access to extensive analytical tools that provide in-depth real-time analysis of sales data, trends and total control of article prices, all on a single, central database.

Using this information, caterers will be able to assess:

  • What are the most popular selling items
  • Peak serving times
  • The average amount spent per customer
  • The dishes that generate low sales. In addition, caterers will have instant feedback on the success of new items they introduce to their menu. With this insight, caterers can amend their menus accordingly to:
  • Ensure every item on their menu meets changing consumer needs and food trends
  • Streamline their purchasing
  • Amend pricing
  • Alter staffing levels to match peak serving times.

Contactless paymentsLoyalty schemes

Through cashless payment systems, caterers can also administer loyalty or reward schemes both to encourage consumers to purchase more sustainable items and inspire their customers to get involved in the recycling process.

For example, caterers can reduce the amount of disposable waste produced at their establishment by rewarding customers through money-off points on their cashless card. These can be rewarded to consumers who choose to dine in using crockery rather than taking out disposables, which have a negative environmental impact, or offer those who bring in their own reusable coffee cups money off their beverage. By implementing bespoke loyalty schemes such as these, caterers can reduce their disposable waste and also cut costs through not purchasing large amounts of disposable items.

With research by WRAP finding that the hospitality industry could save an estimated £724 million a year by increasing recycling rates and that the sector produces over 3.4 million tonnes of mixed waste annually, cashless payment systems are a simple way caterers can reduce their non-recyclable waste and improve their green credentials.

Spending more with cashless

The last few years have marked a significant shift from cash payments to cashless transactions, so much so that cash transactions are expected to decline from 21 billion in 2012 to 14 billion in 2022. As a result, many consumers are coming to expect cashless payment options when eating out of home.

Furthermore, with sales indicating that consumers are more likely to spend more when using cashless payment methods, the implementation of cashless payment systems can not only considerably reduce a catering outlet’s waste, it can also encourage sales and increase profits.

In a highly competitive market and with the UK foodservice sector set to grow to £56.3 billion by 2019 (according to foodservice analysts Horizons), it is important that caterers stay ahead of the curve and safeguard the future of their business by improving their green credentials. Through effective waste management, caterers can build a strong sustainable future for their businesses and, as a result, will continue the growth of the hospitality industry.

To find out more about cashless payment systems, visit www.systopia.co.uk

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