Ranch Questions

No, this isn’t about raising cows and pigs. This question has to do with the white sauce that makes even the phone book taste good.

How do you manage your ranch? Do you charge for it? Give customers an “allowance” based on their purchase and charge for extra? That’s what I do, but it still seems like it could be done better.

I go through about a gallon to a gallon and a half per day. From Sams Club, it’s costing me about $7 per gallon + cost of portion cups. But then you work in the labor to continuously fill them and the cost seems to be fairly high for something that doesn’t really generate revenue.

Anyways, I’m contemplating setting up a self-service counter that allows customers to fill their own ranch when they come into the restaurant. Do you think I’ll go through even more ranch? Will the reduced labor offset the added cost of more ranch? I guess I can try it out and see, but I’m wondering what y’all do with your ranch situation.

Every place that I’ve ever worked at has charged for ranch, up to $.79 for a 2oz cup. It’s one of those things that people who are into the “profit center” school of marketing love, that small item that can be sold for a massive percentage markup, like cans of soda or french fries. I kind of like the idea of a self serve setup, if you could find a pump type dispenser that could handle something as thick as ranch dressing, it would make it really easy to drizzle just enough on each slice, like mustard on a hot dog. You’d have to figure the cost of the ranch into the base price though, since I doubt free ranch alone is much of a draw for your shop. I think if you’re pre-packing it in cups and all, including one free with say bread sticks or small pies, and maybe 2 free with a full large pie, then charging $.50 a cup for any additional cups would be a good starting point. It’s just like any other addictive product, the first one’s free… :wink:

lol… mmm phone books and ranch… ::drools::

But how do you go thru so much ranch? Do you have salads too? Being new we just use ranch packets. I think if you have a thing in the front people would definitely take advantage.

Do you have any slow times where your staff could fill up cups? I’m sure thats what you’re doing, but if you’re going thru that much, you should be able to make a much larger quantity at once so you do it less often. Just some ideas.

Nothing you offer should ever be free. A set amount can be included with items, but anything more needs to be priced.

“Want this back of dog crap?”
“It’s free.”
“Give me two”

We make our own diil ranch dip and give 1 free with each pizza or breadsticks, each extra dip is .30 each. We have some people that will order 10 extra so I know I wouldnt have self serve. We fill 300 2oz cups (takes about 10-15 min) about every 2-3 day so we always have a full tray ready.

And nothing beats a nice “home made” dressing…

I have to agree with you to a certain extent. However, I’ve been to some restaurants that have had garnish bars. I always think “wow, that’s nice”. I’ve also been to places that nickel & dimed me for everything and I thought, that stinks. So, what kind of place do I want to be? I want to be a place that people don’t have any reason not to come back.

I know there are people that would take advantage of self-service, but I have to assume that most people would only take what they need. My big question is, will my employee labor to fill each individual portion cup be more cost effective than the increased amount of Ranch?

Here’s another similar question… Do any of you set out parmesan and red pepper packets and allow customers to take what they need?

Our shop was charging $.25 per 2 oz cup (generally only half full) when we bought it and I stopped that immediately. I’ve never set a policy on ranch (or other dips), but I’ve noticed my employees do a small charge when someone orders quite a bit of extra anyway. I just don’t like people to feel like I’m hustling them every chance I get, if I’m not charging them when they use the salad bar, why would I charge them on pizza.

We make our own and then fill up a couple of those Sam’s jugs you get and have some lids with built in pumps. We don’t go through as much as you, but I don’t see the reduced labor outweighing the cost of a self serve station and the time it will take to maintain.

We keep red pepper and Parmesan behind the counter and have people ask for it, cuts down on waste as well.

I charge for it:
With a salad it is free, extra 3oz cup is .25.
With a pizza it is .50.
With a stromboli it is .50.
With breadsticks it is .50, unless they substitute it for the sauce that comes with an order.
I am pretty sure that I have the best prices in my county so my customers don’t mind paying for a cup of ranch.
I also get it at Sam’s and everyone seems to love it.

Don’t be a teese!! Pony up the recipe(s) :wink:

I was speaking from a delco point of view. As a dine-in, I am not sure what you can do diplomatically. And yes, it is a balancing act between looking cheap and being frugal so that you can put your limited resources into other areas of your business.

I know that Ci Ci’s pizza had a real problem (I had a friend that was a franchisee) when everyone started dipping their slices into ranch dressing from the salad bar. They work on slim margins and the cost was eating him alive. His solution was to put a big ugly sign on the salad bar stating that dressing was only for salads. Not good at all. But how do you handle people using tons and tons of the stuff in addition to snarking nasty pizza like things?

Salads and appetizers get a side of some kind of dressing or sauce. We charge for extras. I guarantee that if you put out free dressing as “self-serve” your costs would sky rocket. Most every place I know of lists extra dressing as an extra charge.

I remember putting out all our cheese and pepper packets for self serve to help our labor out when its busy. We tripled what we were going through and sales were much slower then.

I believe most people are accustomed to paying for extras now that were once free. Restaurant expenses are constantly going up with fuel costs, raised minimum wages, higher taxes, new local government fees, etc. Budgets are tight and it is hard to keep prices reasonable and have all the freebies.

It costs money coming in the back door how can we send it out the front door for free? Unless you have figured into each item cost that everyone is going to ask for it anyway you must charge for it. Go to the grocery and see what they charge for a bottle of ranch dressing and then you won’t feel so bad about charging what you need to charge for it. Most people understand there is a charge for these services and the ones who don’t we’ll never make a buck off of anyway.

I also struggle with this issue. I was at Earls restaurant last week and asked for extra balsamic vinager and olive oil dip for my foccacia bread Guess what 1.50 charge on the bill extra sour cream for nachos guess what 1.50 on the bill. It has become common place to charge for extras now I dont like the fact that it was 1.50 but it is what it is and I enjoyed it!

We have 42 seats inside for eat in and for those paeople that come up to the counter (we are a quick casual concept) and ask for an extra dip we dont make them give us the .30, it is the people that place the order and ask for the extra or when they come to pick up and say add a few dip to my order and they havent paid yet then we can add it to the bill .

People do pick up on this and order accordingly. That’s why many will get their order and on their way out the door quickly ask the counter person for a couple sides of ranch.

So do napkins. Do you charge for those too?

That’s exactly the info I was looking for. I’m thinking self-service is probably not a good thing. Thanks Pizzapirate!

I dont find this happens very often infact I think we may get 2-3 per week that ask after they have paid.

So do napkins. Do you charge for those too?

no but we do figure napkins and paper plates into our pricing, but not sides of dressing with pizza