By Geoffrey Aardsma/Enevo vice president of client services
One person's trash is another's treasure, and that is particularly true when it comes to QSR trash, which most operators see as little more than a small line-item in their operating budgets. But this overlooks something archaeologists have known for decades: Trash is treasure because it tells more about life than some of the best history books.
In fact, for QSRs that may hold doubly true since the dumpings in your dumpster are nothing short of golden nuggets when it comes to providing valuable insights about the operational efficiency of your business that are often unattainable any other way.
"Life moves quickly in a QSR kitchen, demanding disciplined food prep teams whose waste may reveal the source of some prep processes that need tightening. So, if plate scrapings occupy a lot of space in your dumpster, portion sizes may need to be adjusted."
That's where waste technology services can turn that refuse into irrefutable operational treasure by using dumpster data to reveal where your brand is showing how wasteful it is right there in its waste. Listed here then, are five ways this kind of service can lend that kind of business operational wisdom, often on a daily basis.
1. If you're paying too much for waste services.
Until now, waste collection schedules and management costs have been based on physical observation and assumptions. Restaurant managers relied on visual assessments of fill-levels to size their bins and plan collection schedules. These are naturally unreliable and subjective because their validity is skewed depending on who conducts the evaluation and their knowledge of historical collections.
For example, if a container is 50 percent full, how did it get to that level? Is it 50 percent full every week at this time? Or was a pickup missed? These questions and their "guesstimate" answers usually lead to inaccurate service levels, resulting in possible overflows and subsequent increases in services and costs, or worse, no action at all.
Managing your waste services using data from your dumpsters provides needed reliability and accuracy to help restaurants achieve an average of 10 percent in waste management cost savings after implementing service.
2. If you're paying for the wrong services.
On average, 9 percent of trash collections are missed, and 21 percent of current service levels need adjustment. Haulers use GPS geofencing to monitor when trucks enter a service area to confirm pickups. But this doesn’t ensure that a pickup actually happened.
In the daily life of a QSR, a missed collection can lead to an overflowing dumpster and the bigger problems that come with it when customers view the mess. Instantly, customers' perceptions of cleanliness and/or food quality takes a hit. Or, possibly worse, the operator takes the hit that comes from costly health inspector fines.
But, waste sensor technology confirms that collections paid for actually happen. With 'round-the-clock monitoring of restaurant dumpster fill-levels, waste service providers can deliver more accurate waste collection bills and services that match real restaurant needs.
3. If you'd like to know where your trash volume is coming from.
Your restaurant might be serving fewer meals, yet your dumpster volume increases. Where is this trash coming from? This frustrating pain-point is common among QSR operators.
By analyzing the waste data contained in your dumpster, operators can uncover what's really generating the most and least waste at their specific store or stores.
Though operators don't have time to dig through the data themselves, a waste services partner can help by monitoring waste-level changes, their sources and the operational changes that can truly rectify the issues.
4. If your inventory doesn’t match your output.
Waste audits can dig into the contents of your dumpsters to reveal insights that may affect inventory control and management. Restaurants can use these insights to learn how their processes impact waste generation. Then, operators can make better-informed decisions that really do improve efficiency.
Life moves quickly in a QSR kitchen, demanding disciplined food prep teams whose waste may reveal the source of some prep processes that need tightening. So, if plate scrapings occupy a lot of space in your dumpster, portion sizes may need to be adjusted.
Or maybe the majority of your waste isn’t produced onsite but comes from another source. Hidden supply chain costs can be uncovered through waste analytics that may, for instance, reveal that significant volume of waste from a supplier’s excessive cardboard packaging could be fixed by having them haul it away after the delivery.
5. If your business and your staff would benefit from specific training.
Waste technology gives operators a better way to manage staff, with a true understanding of which processes are being implemented and which might benefit from new or modified training.
So if waste data shows food is not being stored or prepared correctly, you can look at an unusually high-volume location to ultimately discover a training problem around minimizing kitchen food waste.
Waste services can provide value to restaurants by tracking normalized waste generation and recycling performance across the entire chain. Using data, specific issues can be pinpointed by location so that operators can set benchmark data and gather best practices to ultimately improve overall restaurant chain performance. It's all part of the restaurant operator's ongoing task of looking in some of the most unlikely places for the source of operational money "left on the table" or in this case, in the bin.