4 simple questions to ask yourself as a business owner.
By Carl Slusarczyk
Owning a restaurant, or a retail location, comes with a great deal of responsibility. Managing your staff and finances — and dealing with customers — are some tasks on the endless list of challenges faced daily. The last thing an owner wants to think about is waste disposal and dealing with the headaches that may arise. However, waste and diversion have become some of the top concerns of restaurant owners and retailers, especially when associated with revenue loss.
A past study conducted by Business for Social Responsibility, on behalf of the Food Waste Alliance, showed that more than 84% of the food waste generated by U.S. restaurants ended up in the landfill. Only 1.4% was donated and 14.3% was recycled. The authors of the study translate that to 15.7% food loss across the industry or 3.3 pounds of food waste per 1,000 of company revenue — a significant loss for both large and small companies in the restaurant sector.
There are solutions, however. Start by asking yourself these four simple questions:
1. Do you know your costs?
As a restaurant owner or retailer you should consider how much costs go into just throwing away your food and other wastes. Do you know how much you are currently paying for hauling, landfill fees, environmental fees, cost of equipment, etc.? After it is all calculated, are you shocked by how much you are spending? Are you asking yourself, how can you reduce costs/find savings? A waste broker uses a personalized approach that takes your business’ past, present and future into account to find the best way to cut costs and save money.
A broker brings many waste hauling businesses to the table along with competitive pricing. The process begins with bidding and finding the best independent haulers for your restaurant’s, or retail location’s, waste needs. In doing so, a broker can eliminate additional fees and surcharges.
It doesn’t stop there — a broker considers service levels and costs, market analysis and seasonal fluctuations. They will find hidden opportunities for savings while also achieving a better understanding of material inefficiencies. This is a process in the waste industry known as right-sizing — reducing disposal and increasing recycling, and thus reducing overall costs.
2. Do you own and operate multiple locations?
Do you find yourself sorting through tons of paperwork at the end of the day with no end in sight? Multiple locations can mean coordinating with several haulers at once. When working directly with waste haulers, each hauler sends an individual statement. That’s a lot of paper to keep track of.
A waste broker consolidates all invoices from each hauler, leaving you with one statement. The billing process is also customized to fit the customer’s specific needs, unlike national haulers who do not have that flexibility. By consolidating your statements and acting as a single point of contact, a waste broker could save you time and energy that you could be spending on your restaurants.
3. Are you satisfied with the current service of your haulers?
Late pickups, unexpected waste volumes, continually having to deal with equipment repairs, poor customer service — problems that are simply frustrating cause stress when you are trying to manage your waste disposal needs.
As busy as restaurants and retailers are, you rely on your hauler to stay on schedule — however, what if the hauler missed your pickup? As a business owner, you are stuck looking for a phone number, trying to figure out who to call — you just don’t have the time to deal with this issue. A waste broker will manage and alleviate this problem and act as your single point of contact. Report a missed pickup, and the broker will deal with the rest. Issue resolved.
Do you also find that you have no time to plan for events or manage your waste pickups when they fluctuate seasonally? A broker can also help plan for these increases in waste volume through a process of planning, consultation and monitoring. Some broker companies also offer monitoring systems that use analytics to keep tabs on the effectiveness and fullness of your baler or compactors. These monitoring systems assure that when your baler or compactor is getting full it will get picked up. Maintaining efficient pickup schedules can reduce your number of hauls up to 30% to 40%.
4. Are you challenged with attaining sustainable goals dealing with the cost-effective management of waste?
Face the facts, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over 97% of food makes its way to landfills each year. A single restaurant alone can produce approximately 25,000 to 75,000 pounds of food waste in a year, according to the Green Restaurant Association.
Are you a company with a franchise-based business model who is currently facing the challenge of centrally tracking food waste and instituting a system-wide food waste program? Or, are you an owner of a centralized, single-unit restaurants facing difficulties in dedicating scarce resources and staff time to effectively manage food waste programs?
Identifying challenges is unique within the restaurant sector. A waste broker will customize solutions, address your challenges, and heighten awareness to improve your restaurants’ overall environmental performance and standard operating procedures.
The National Restaurant Association states that recycling remains a difficult task to complete. Restaurants are faced with burdens of food safety concerns, local laws and regulations, food storage and transportation constraints. A waste broker will provide your restaurant with valuable information and analysis that will assist in your efforts to implement sustainable solutions including recycling, beneficially reuse and effective logistic management of discarded packaging and solid waste.
The bottom line is, retailers and restaurant owners have a great deal of responsibility: resolving issues, handling invoices, challenges in managing multiple locations and overcoming barriers to name a few. If you find yourself answering the above questions, think about why a waste broker might be the right choice for your business. Managing your waste needs shouldn’t be a headache or a burden. Perhaps it’s time to start wasting less.
— Carl Slusarczyk is vice president of Victor, New York-based Waste Harmonics. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.