EXEC TOUTS HOW TOOL WILL BE INSTRUMENTAL IN BRAND EXPANSION
CRA: We’ve heard you’re planning to expand the Lark Creek brand to southern California.
Michael Dellar: Yes, we recently launched a new restaurant in Orange County, Lark Creek Newport Beach at Fashion Island.
CRA: How did Lark Creek Restaurant Group become involved with NGB Markets?
MD: I was introduced to CEO Rock Clapper by a mutual friend in venture capital. Rock talked to our executive team about software they were considering to develop for the restaurant industry. Adrian Hoffman, our vice president and culinary director, and Tony Dellamano, our vice president of finance, had conceptualized and implemented an early version of the QuoteMatrix. They asked Dr. Clapper if his team could web-enable it. After some discussion we decided to work with NGB and help them refine the software.
It’s such a powerful tool that was built for the industry by professionals in the industry.
CRA: Tell us about how Lark Creek has implemented NGB’s service.
MD: One problem in the fast-paced restaurant industry is that our chefs are always pressed for time. When it’s time to replenish the cooler or pantry, a chef is looking at price quotes and related notes from the sales team of their vendors. The price quotes come as faxes, e-mails, e-mailed spreadsheets and phone messages.
NGB’s QuoteMatrix requires each vendor to enter and submit their prices for commodities they sell and all vendor quotes show up on a computer or tablet screen so the chef can compare prices for all of their commodities. So, it saves time by organizing critical price information, and it also helps the food buyer become more informed and a better price negotiator because they can see multiple vendor price quotes for each product at a glance.
In ongoing use of this layout, our vice president of finance has calculated a food cost savings of one to two points across our restaurants.
CRA: That’s substantial in the restaurant industry. What are other features of NGB’s service for food buyers?
MD: When a chef is viewing the vendor price quotes in this matrix, with a list of inventory on the left side of the screen and their vendors’ quotes to the right and side-by-side for each product, the chef may click on a product and enter the number of units they need, along with a note for detail if appropriate. They can do this for each product and NGB will submit an electronic purchase order to their vendor, and give the chef a duplicate copy via e-mail for their records. You can see where this significantly streamlines the current method of leaving a voice message, with the added advantage of having a copy of the order.
CRA: How will Lark Creek be able to leverage the feature that predicts future price fluctuation?
MD: Prices fluctuate throughout the year, sometimes predictable because of seasonality, and sometimes unpredictable due to weather patterns, increases in fuel, contamination, labor problems along with others. This is especially true with highly perishable commodities, such as lettuce and seafood. In the early part of 2013, Romaine lettuce went from below $20 to more than $40 twice and each time it stayed high for several weeks. This hurts the restaurants because we can’t adjust our menu prices and we must purchase the high-priced commodities.
As part of its service, NGB Markets is working toward offering alerts so food buyers will know that price increases are coming and can negotiate a short term contract with their vendors or can switch the menu. Likewise, you can imagine that if you’re catering an event and the price of certain commodities are going down, a restaurant can increase profit by suggesting menu items that would use the low-priced commodities.
For more information about NGB Markets, go online at www.ngbmarkets.com.