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April 2017 Ruminations & Ronnifications

I have written many of these columns through the years. Way back when, we sent these to our patrons via snail mail, while now we send them electronically. So, what should I write about now that might interest the Ben's patron? Would it be interesting to give the general public a glimpse into the operations of this relatively small business? Well then, let me give it a try!

Ben's has approximately 320 workers, most of whom are hardworking and try to do the right thing. As their employer, I am responsible not just for these employees, but also the livelihood of their families.

Of course, we have an Accounting and Finance Office, where the CFO resides along with an assistant and two employees for account payables, account receivables and to assist with the daily finances – both for the business and in support of our employees. It should be noted that, our Marketing Coordinator situates himself in that same office, which helps to lighten up an office filled with "accounting types" (usually thought of as being dour and somber). Of course, our Accounting Firm, Cohn Reznick, which exhibits none of that (maybe this sweet-talking will help when they present their yearly bill) also oversees all our reporting.

Most notable among our facilities, of course, are Ben's seven locations, each with its own General Manager (so, seven different employees, whose average length of service is probably around twenty years), Head Chef, Assistant General Manager and Counter Manager, as well as two prep cooks, three to four line cooks, one or two porters, and 40 or more hourly workers who make up the crux of our workforce. For their hard work and efforts, Ben's full-time employees are provided with two to four weeks' vacation (depending on length of service), a healthcare plan (with a Ben's contribution of 30-35% -- a staple of our business for more than 20 years), bereavement and jury duty pay, eight paid holidays per year (amounts to eight days additional pay), a company-paid life insurance policy, five to six paid sick days (if they are not sick during the year, it amounts to an additional week's pay), and lastly, and maybe most importantly, a 401K plan to which Ben's contributes a 50% match on a portion of the worker's contribution. Given the longevity of employment with the Ben's family, there are a few Ben's employees who have more than a quarter of a million dollars in their accounts.

Our approximate $27,000,000 revenue is broken down into various revenue centers, with approximately 50% attributed to dining room sales, 37% to counter and delivery sales and 13% to catering sales. We have a weekly payroll cost of approximately $170,000 per week (or $9,000,000 per year). Our product costs, including beverages, kosher meats, kosher poultry, paper goods, bread, pickles, desserts, groceries, condiments, etc., amount to approximately $9,300,000. With an approximate income before taxes of 1.35% in year 2016, you can only imagine what the rental, insurance, utilities and additional costs we incur to bring us to just a 1.35% income, and that's before taxes.

Having said this, is anyone out there crazy enough to go into this business? Maybe you would want to purchase a ready-made mini chain of Kosher restaurants?

See ya at the Deli.