We have not written here about something like this before, but we try our best to be as clear as we can with our guests, so I thought it was important to offer some context.
We make mistakes on a daily basis when we welcome you into our home, and do our best to see them, acknowledge them, and make amends. This is one of our core values in our business because we are not perfect, and will never be. No one is.
One of our teams received an email from a guest and, having replied to it myself, I really thought it was probably best to write about costs and context, in case any other of our guests had the same doubts, questions or thoughts.
Back in March we let our guests know our prices would be increasing. The decision to increase our prices is never taken lightly; it takes time, discussions, putting everything in the balance, some more discussion and thought before a final decision is made.
In the almost 12 years since we opened our first Fazenda in Leeds we have always checked and benchmarked our prices on an ongoing basis to ensure we’re offering our guests the best value possible for their experience with us.
There are two things we are not willing to compromise on: the quality of our food and the quality of our service. We are convinced these are key to the experience we can offer you, so cutting corners on these would simply hinder it.
When it comes to the sourcing of our produce, we focus on ensuring quality consistency is present across the board, and we believe in training and supporting our team members, offering them a safe and healthy environment where they can work. This means paying them fairly, offering them some great benefits they can enjoy, such as private healthcare, cycle scheme, guaranteed tronc (gratuity), eye care, team discounts, among others. We also focus on training them thoroughly and on an ongoing basis so they continue to grow. It’s our job as part of this industry to help maintain its place in the market as an attractive career path to pursue.
These things cost money, and these days they cost more, much much more.
I said in my message back in March how we, as businesses and individuals, were seeing costs increase everywhere. Electricity and gas bills have sky rocketed for us all; produce costs more, whether it’s us buying it from suppliers or us as individuals buying it at the supermarket. VAT has gone back to 20%, business rates came back, national insurance has gone up, among many many others. According to the latest CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index, year-on-year inflation in the foodservice sector hit 13.6% in March 2022, 3.4% higher than in February 2022. In comparison, back in March 2021, inflation was at 0.1%.
The decision to increase our prices doesn’t have to do with greed, our profit per guest is not higher than it was back in March.
Our choice could have been to simply serve worse quality food, have fewer team members working each shift, squeezing things everywhere so as to save money, but that would have had without a doubt a direct impact on the type of experience you, our Fazendeiros, have enjoyed and continue to enjoy with us, and also an impact on the wellbeing of our team.
For other establishments controlling costs can be a little easier. In an à la carte restaurant, they control the portions, for example, so they might make them slightly smaller if they have to rein in costs. They may also make changes to specific products here and there and save a little, though costs are still much higher than they used to for all of us, regardless of what we serve.
The biggest difference in our case, however, is there is no portion control, our guests control the service.
At a regular steakhouse we can order an 8oz/225g steak for, say, £27. An average Fazenda guest has 800 grams of meat during their visit – 3.5 times that volume – which means we’d have to charge around £95 to make the same GP they do; this without counting any sides or accompaniments from our Market Table. Margins are completely different for us.
I am aware our experience is more expensive now, however, I am also very aware, once again, that it could not be cheaper if our goal is to continue offering you the same quality and level of service, as well as have a business that is sustainable and can grow.
I hope this offers some further context into the decisions we made and continue to make. As a business we have always tried to finely balance increasing costs without passing too much to you, our guests. We have worked tirelessly over the last decade to build and maintain our reputation, so keeping prices low at the detriment of everything we stand for is not an option for us.
Lastly, I’d like to say thank-you on behalf of all of us here at Fazenda to all of those who continue to support both us as a brand and also our industry during incredibly challenging times. It really doesn’t go unnoticed, it means a lot to us.