Getting more from less is a mantra echoing across every business sector. But all too often, changes result in achieving less from less. To achieve more, a business needs to improve efficiency, which is the relationship between inputs and corresponding outputs. Increased efficiency benefits are apparent - time, space, effort, and energy - are saved.
‘Lean thinking,’ the quest for improved efficiency, was pioneered by the Toyota Motor Company in the 1930s and 1940s. The motor manufacturer’s insight was that there was so much hidden waste that its reduction could transform the company. The techniques they created were eventually captured in the Toyota Production System: a system of continuous improvement based on standard work augmented by Kaizen - incremental improvement, to bring sustainable performance increases.
Seeing the commercial benefits produced at Toyota, this lean way of thinking soon spread outside of manufacturing. Lean health care started with operational issues like patient flow and physical inventory. The lean start-up method applies lean thinking to understand customer needs rapidly and concurrently with product development.
The benefits of lean
thinking are manifested
in various ways.
Reducing the product variants
Companies also apply efficiencies to their product range. For example, a retailer could choose to sell fewer variations of each product. In contrast, competitors may sell a wider variety of different brands, sizes, and packaging. By selling fewer varieties of each product, the retailer can buy larger quantities at a lower price and reduce pricing and merchandising alternatives.
Wasted resources, in other words, inputs that the company can do without and still produce the same, or better outputs, can be kept to a minimum by adopting time-based management approaches.
Implementing a ‘lean thinking’ philosophy in the foodservice industry can improve efficiency in several areas.
Your Business Application
Firstly, the product list, i.e., what is available for the customer to purchase, is listed on the menu. This ultimately defines the business – its input, processes, and outputs. The menu is, therefore, a good starting point.
Simplify the menu
Similar to a retailer reducing their product range, the benefits of a less complicated menu are many.
- Holding less pantry stock saves cash flow, storage space and wastage.
- With a simpler menu, staff can master fewer processes and improve productivity, i.e., fulfil tasks better and quicker.
- The operator can benefit from economies of scale when purchasing ingredients.
The key to successfully simplifying the menu is not to cut out on variety, but to find ingredients which can be used across a wide range of dishes.
Experienced operators will be able to identify a few key ingredients which stretch themselves across the menu. These key items add flavour, variety and are very seldom wasted. Popular ‘lean’ ingredients are often those used in best-selling dishes, like pizza, pasta, and burgers.
Making more from less: an example of a simple sauce
When Chefs were challenged to think about how they could reduce a restaurant’s inputs, yet increase menu options, the humble Hollandaise sauce proved an easy target. Traditionally limited to the breakfast dish, Eggs Benedict, with some lean creativity, the sauce successfully stretches itself right across the menu.
It is such a versatile base that it can be incorporated across breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner occasions.
It is even possible to create new menu items with the sauce. The sauce can be used to add exciting complexity to proteins, vegetables, fish and breakfast offerings.
Consider how Hollandaise can be used across the following 10 different dishes:
- Dill Hollandaise. Pan-Fried Line Fish With Orange And Dill Hollandaise.
- Spicy Hollandaise. Cajun Eggs Benedict.
- Hollandaise On Other Breakfast Dishes. Cauliflower Waffle With Wilted Baby Spinach, Sautéed Baby Tomatoes And Soft Boiled Egg, Topped With Hollandaise Sauce.
- Jalapeño And Coriander Hollandaise.
- Zesty Hollandaise. Fresh Asparagus With Parma Ham, Served With Hollandaise Sauce And Lemon Zest.
- Chive Hollandaise. Mini Herbed Omelettes Filled With Shaved Ham, Served With Chive Hollandaise.
- Lime And Passionfruit Hollandaise. Potato Rosti Stack With Smoked Salmon, Prawn And Avo Drizzled With A Lime And Passionfruit Hollandaise Sauce.
- Mustard Hollandaise. Sliced Grilled Steak With Mustard Hollandaise.
- Bearnaise. Beef Fillet With Bearnaise Sauce.
- Pesto Hollandaise. Portabella Mushrooms, Eggs Benedict With Pesto Hollandaise.
It takes a lean way of thinking to find efficiencies within a business. In the foodservice industry, this can mean using fewer ingredients across a broader range of dishes.