A hotel’s food and beverage offerings can be one of the most difficult areas of the property’s operation to keep control of and, without rigorous oversight, can bleed money and lead to hard-to-explain holes at the end of the month.
Ensure that your asset manager keeps an eye on the detail as well as the overall workings of the food-and-beverage operation and help it make a profitable contribution to your hotel.
There are four key areas to monitor: purchasing, sales, cash and banqueting.
Purchasing for food and beverage can be something of a moving feast, so it pays to ensure that you are thorough when working with the comings and goings.
When you are setting up a purchasing policy, include standard purchasing procedures, petty cash procedures and emergency purchases with segregation of duties. Also separate the task of receiving from the purchasing.
You will often find that you need to add new suppliers as trends and supply chains shift. When doing so, ensure that you acquire three documented bids, and if you can’t, document why not.
When the goods arrive, be sure and check them off against the order every time as mistakes are easily made with produce in particular. Also check that accounts match the purchase order/requisition and delivery note to the invoice received. And all requisitions should be signed before receiving goods as per the internal purchase policy.
Other factors to consider:
- Do you apply the empty for full bottle policy for the store liquor requisitions?
- When the inventories are kept on the Balance Sheet, are all the material variances investigated, resolved and signed by Finance?
- Are there par stocks for the liquor and wine available in each outlet? Does Finance do a surprise check to verify those par stocks are respected?
Food and beverage changes rapidly and no one day is the same as another. To make sure that you are staying ahead of your operations and that any issues are spotted quickly, daily attention must be paid to many of its functions.
It is good practice to ensure that every day you print a report with all the void invoices from the point of sale and ask the food-and-beverage manager to write a reason next to each void invoice. The director of finance should verify all those voids and check any repetitions to prevent losses. The general manager should sign this report. Also every day, prepare a list with all the complimentary checks, with signatures from those who consumed and the reason next to it. This report should be signed by this person and countersigned by the director of finance and the general manager.
Weekly, if not daily — depending on your software — you should reconcile the revenues between the point of sale and the property management system.
Spot checks also have a place in food and beverage, and I would advise surprise checks from accounting on departmental stocks. The income auditor should perform open table checks which should be verified by the director of finance.
The food and beverage offering is always in flux, and it is important to stay ahead of it: Make sure you have all the recipes updated, and, at the end of the month, you will be able to calculate the theoretical cost of sales. If there is an important variance between the actual and the theoretical cost of sales, you should investigate it. Don’t forget to update your menu engineering on a monthly basis, which will enable you to make the correct decision about the pricing or the menu items.
And finally, ensure all the credit card charge-backs are duly investigated and documented.
We may be moving toward a cashless society, but cash remains very present in food and beverage. Make sure that all cash is deposited promptly and securely, supported by daily reconciliations to ensure that errors are spotted quickly so any issues are easier to resolve.
Ensure there is a contract for each float provided to the restaurants. When a rotating float is used — when floats are handed from one employee to another — make sure there is shift handover with both persons signing to evidence the amount handed over and received.
Make sure that surprise counts of all floats take place by the income auditor in the presence of the cashier and a supervisor. In case of overage/shortages, they should be formally tracked, explained, investigated and signed by both sides.
When a banqueting function is requested, Finance should make sure that the following points are met:
- Verify the written agreement, including all rates, terms and conditions, is signed by both the guest and the appropriate hotel representative.
- Check that there are not any price deviations, and if there are any, make sure that both the general manager and director of finance have approved them.
- Lastly, to help the hotel treasury and ensure that you will get the business, ask for a deposit in line with the set credit policy.
There are always improvements possible in banqueting, so hold a weekly meeting to discuss past performance and discuss what can be done to build revenue.
Food and beverage is one of the most fluid operations in hotels and overlooked by many, but with an asset manager who has an eye for detail, it can quickly drive lasting profit.