The Client. Founding Farmers is a full-service, high-volume, upscale-casual restaurant brand owned by the North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU), a collective of American family farmers. Part of Farmers Restaurant Group, this innovative, DC metropolitan area-based restaurant brand is a sustainably-minded concept that at their core honors farmers and their hard-earned bounty. Through sustainable practices such as serving real food and drink they primarily cook, mix, and bake from scratch; partnering with suppliers, vendors, and purveyors that align with their principles; and even crafting a line of proprietary beverages, Founding Farmers is committed to growing their leading farmer-owned brand.
The Case Study. We were lucky enough to get involved with the Founding Farmers/NDFU team from their very first restaurant opening in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Hired to plan and execute all aspects of this project, we helped develop the brand concept, interior design, eclectic artwork focus, menu and culinary aspects, operational systems, including staffing and training, as well as strategic marketing and social media plans, all with an eye towards providing the tools to flow seamlessly across all future restaurants.
The Result. We let the Founding Farmers sustainable brand philosophy guide us in effectively developing this brand, and subsequently helping to lay the groundwork for their success, growth, and brand recognition with the creation of popular sibling concepts, Farmers Fishers Bakers and Farmers & Distillers.
“Our restaurant group operates without a formalized corporate structure, so the skilled, varied experience of candidates that VSAG brought to us were the perfect fit. From front of house to back office and front desk to reservations, accounting, and operations, they’ve allowed our Founding Farmers restaurant crew members and management staff alike to surpass expectations and grow at every level.” – Dawn Vileno, Managing Partner | Vice President, Farmers Restaurant Group, Washington, D.C.
Farmers Restaurant Sarah Lubbers and Chris Rusche Case Analysis The fact that inventory accounts for an average cost of 26% of the restaurant’s total revenues underscores the importance of managing inventory. Kristin would like to find a way to ensure that she is maintaining the proper amount of inventory. Customer counts at Kristin’s greatest focuses are to current customers and attract new customers. She believes that a key aspect of this is having all of the items on the menu in stock. The restaurant industry is competitive. In the Grand Rapids/Wyoming metro area alone there are over 1,600 restaurants. Some of Farmers Restaurant’s most serious competitors are IHOP, Applebee’s, and Big Boy, all of which are located within 20 miles of the Farmers Restaurant, so customers have many alternatives from which to choose. Online inventory systems are used to assist restaurant managers in determining on-hand inventory and gauging how well the restaurant is controlling food costs. The fiscal week for Farmers Restaurant starts on Thursday and ends on the Wednesday of the following week. Each Wednesday, the manager physically counts the inventory on hand and enters the data into the online inventory system. The computer software system then compares the on-hand inventory for that week, the amount of food ordered, and the inventory on hand for the end of the previous week with the sales for the current week. By doing so, it is able to determine a total food cost. The manager compares this cost with the benchmark cost to see how well the restaurant has been managing inventory. This is one of the most important numbers to managers at the Farmers Restaurant for approximately 30% of total cost in terms of a store’s cost structure. The computer software system also compares the total cost of food on hand with the total