How much do mistakes really cost your business?


Mistakes happen, both customers and waiting staff and chefs err.

We all do.

Have you ever tried to calculate your own business losses?

What percentage would you put on total wastage?

Hopefully it is just basic ordering errors and a very low percentage?

So waste is likely to be just the cost of food or is it?

Factor in the additional time spent getting the order right or lost customer loyalty. There also may be spills and breakages … hopefully no serious injuries to staff or customers.

It was recently reported that a waiter at one of the most exclusive USA country clubs spilled red wine over a patron’s $30k handbag; she sued the country club for the damage … the country club ended up suing the waiter … the case is still pending.

Now let’s look at a few more including unnecessary business processes such as re-entering or re-keying data, potential rounding errors in stock control systems, incorrect or incompatible measurements – recently saw ullage record in pints, except the stock control was in litres!


How about over pouring or incorrectly pouring drinks, not providing detailed allergen information, or a true range of gluten free options or lack of staff knowledge on the latest specials and recipe information or their availability?

Missing up-selling opportunities is a cardinal sin but have your really trained your front of house staff?

All frustrating and potentially very costly over a period, small mistakes start to add up. Take an overall 5% error or wastage rate and £500,000 turnover = £25,000 gone.

How many free meals do you effectively give away each week? Excluding refunds?

Still using the 5% & £500k, for a 20-table restaurant and 1,500 covers per month that equates to £2,077 lost or 75 customers you feed for free, now repeat another ELEVEN times a year!

Hopefully, these are genuine errors and not deliberate, so how can they be minimised?


“We ordered a garlic chilli prawn pizza with rocket topping and Chef’s special pizza with extra cheese. They got my order wrong it had Anchovies instead. We waited a further hour to get the right order.” — Dan, diner

Staff submitting the order incorrectly is a very common human error.

It is not just the replacement pizza, but interruption to the order flow in the kitchen as well as the wasted pizza and the obvious loss of revenue, so the simple mistake is compounded.

It is likely orders in this situation are being recited back to customers and then entered in an EPOS system.

Just the extra and unnecessary time spent with the customer is a hidden cost.

A far better solution is to remove the double entry process, instead directly use a mobile device or tablet and the time saved can be spent attending to other customers building relationships and loyalty as well as up selling as they have information at their fingertips.


“I was sent meat items on an order clearly stated as vegan!!! NEVER coming here again!” — Sarah, diner

The kitchen staff works in a fast-paced and stressful environment. When the printout is stained with oil or torn, the staff may miss special requirements or details and spend time cooking the wrong food.

This type of mistake can cost from tens to potentially hundreds of pounds depending on the value of the dish.  If the kitchen staff asks for a new docket this introduces a delay to everybody.

Wait staff needs to find the right order from the EPOS system, kitchen staff needs to wait for the reprint, meanwhile customers are waiting.

This can cost a business about £90 to £180 (based on 5–10 minutes per issue) per month in addition to a potential bad impression on the customers.

Instead send the order directly from the EPOS system to a Kitchen Screen so it’s already there.  Searching for orders digitally is a lot faster than paper and saves staff time from moving physical orders around. Using a digital touch screen to display all the orders can help focus on quality and looking more professional.


“After 30 minutes waiting, we found our food was served to another table. This lack of care seems to reflect in the inconsistent quality of the food and hit and miss experiences we had here, I doubt we will return.” — Jane, diner

If a front of house staff member serves about an average of 5 tables at the same time. That number likely increases during peak meal hours, increasing chances of mistakes.

This often leads to a bad impression and the customer is less likely to return. This is even more costly because it’s six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer.

What is the solution? To hire more staff to improve customer service or schedule staff more efficiently?

Restaurants are continuously trying to find a cost-effective way to manage service quality.  A better option is to empower every staff member ‘experienced ‘with the assistance of technology.

An online menu is one option or include Recipe Cards on the EPOS and make that available with a tablet for table service. This time saved by the wait staff can be used to provide a more attentive and personalised service to increase chances of customers coming back (perhaps with more friends).


Nobody wants to make mistakes and incur the additional cost and frustration that come along with it. But it’s hard to remove the unnoticed human error unless we remove the opportunities for this error.

The right technology can reduce this and allow wait staff to focus on more valuable tasks like building relationships.  After all, it’s cheaper than advertising since you’ve already got customers in your restaurant and building a memorable relationship then and there is powerful. With the help of a mobile EPOS system it can free up some time for your wait staff to better serve customers and put thousands of pounds back into your pocket from minimising human error.

This will even help your staff enjoy their job a bit more because happy staff are loyal staff, also likely to benefit from far more tips.

Your business far fewer bad reviews and more custom from the good ones or better still recommendations.

If you are looking to drive change within your business, reduce costs and mistakes within your business, talk to our partners.