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Ali_Carter_not_the_snooker_player.jpg10 years ago, Ali Palmer was partner at
a successful "chocolate-box" country pub.

With an average food turnover of £3,000 a week, there was plenty of cash in the till, but that wasn’t quite translating into profit at the end of the month – much of the profit was, it seemed, disappearing into thin air.

Ali set about finding some more cash and untapped profit in the business by accurately costing every single item on the menu – from a portion of chips to the full Sunday roast, which threw up some ‘nasty surprises’. It also took two weeks of dedicated number crunching!

For example, she discovered that the GP on Steak & Ale pie – which the pub sold vast quantities of – was a mere 52%, which dragged down the overall food operation. By fine-tuning, including changing the beef supplier and using last drawings of ale from the barrel rather than from the handpump, the gross profit on this popular dish soared to 68%. She didn’t have to cut out ‘expensive’ dishes either – by omitting the mashed potato base on her Fillet Steak dish, and charging a modest price for special sauces, Ali took the dish’s GP from 53% to 70%.

Getting efficient

Knowing right down to the last penny what every plate of food was costing her gave Ali the power to make informed decisions about what went on her menu. Standardising garnishes, tweaking portion sizes and prices and comparing suppliers helped Ali find an extra 10% GP from food that was there for the taking.

She explains “A net weekly food take of £3,000 at 65% GP delivered £1,950; having made the changes (which my customers didn’t even notice, by the way) the new 75% GP delivered £2,250 – the extra £300 a week that was already in my kitchen added up to £15,600 over the course of a year!”

10 years on, and several top industry awards later, Ali is still passionate about helping the catering industry beat the statistics, take control and have a healthier business.

That’s why she’s created CaterCost. The aim is to help independent food operators squeeze every last drop of profit from their business and live the happy lives they deserve. Ali's been there, done it and has a whole collection of t-shirts.