5 things you can learn from your restaurant's dumpster
By Geoff Aardsma, VP of client service, Enevo
"Out of sight, out of mind." As long as no one can see or smell trash, restaurant owners and operators may not think about waste management, especially since it is often a small line item in the operations budget.
What if your trash could provide valuable insights about the operational efficiency of your restaurant that are otherwise unattainable?
Below are five valuable realizations that waste technology services can discover about your waste management through data-driven insights:
1. 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, which are naturally unreliable and subjective; 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 usually lead to inaccurate service levels, resulting in possible overflows and subsequent increases in services and costs, or 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. 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 into a service area to confirm pickups, but this doesn’t ensure that a pickup actually happened.
In the restaurant industry, a missed collection can lead to an overflowing dumpster, and ultimately a bigger problem when it becomes visible to customers. This could change their perceptions of cleanliness or food quality, or result in costly health inspector fines.
Waste sensor technology confirms that collections paid for actually happen. With around-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. You now know where your trash volume is coming from.
Your restaurant might be serving less meals, yet your dumpster volume increases. Where is this trash coming from? This frustrating pain point is common among restaurant operators across the industry.
By analyzing data coming from your dumpster, you can uncover the true driver of waste generation for restaurant chains. While restaurant operators are busy and do not have time to dig through the data themselves, a waste services partner can help. That partner will monitor for changes in waste levels, determine why they occur and recommend operational changes to fix the real issue.
4. 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 and can then make better-informed decisions to improve efficiency.
Fast casual kitchen operations are quick, and food prep teams need to be disciplined, so your waste may uncover that prep guidelines need to be tightened. 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 is coming from another source. Hidden costs in the supply chain can also be discovered through waste analytics. For example, waste data may reveal that significant volume is from a supplier’s excessive cardboard packaging and could be fixed by having them haul it away after the delivery.
5. Your staff would benefit from specific training.
With insights from waste technology, restaurants can better manage their staff and understand what processes are being followed and then implement necessary training to fix any issues. Waste data may reveal that restaurant employees aren’t storing or preparing food correctly. By looking at one location with unusually high volume, you may find that the staff wasn’t properly trained on minimizing food waste in the kitchen. A waste services partner might also find that the dumpster is overflowing because a cardboard recycling program is not being followed by local staff.
Waste services can provide value to restaurants by tracking normalized waste generation and recycling performance across the entire chain. Using data, they can identify issues by location, set benchmark data and gather best practices to ultimately improve overall restaurant chain performance.
Restaurants can apply these five learnings and more to achieve cost savings and operations efficiencies. By using waste services, fast casual operators don’t have to worry about sorting through more data or managing new technology, and instead can focus their valuable time on managing their business.