The Great Ranch Debate

It happens every day.

Someone will order a slice of pizza, pay for it, and sit down.

When we deliver the slice, they’ll say “Can I get a side of ranch?”

(first of all, no. you can’t. dipping your slice in ranch freaks me out. just eat your dang slice and stop covering its beautiful flavor with ranch for crimmeny’s sake.)

I’ve had the Great Ranch Debate before, claiming that dipping sauce should be free. This was before I owned a restaurant, of course, and realized just how much waste there is in food service.

Once you bring out the first free side of ranch, it’s a free-for-all and by the end of our high-school lunch rush, we’ve gone through a gallon of dressing.

Turns out, our charge of a measly 25-cents for a 3oz. side of dressing is the cheapest in town… including the grocery stores.

Here’s the best ranch dressing you can buy; Hidden Valley Ranch.

At 25-cents an ounce, we would break even by charging 75-cents for a side.

Wishbone makes a nice ranch dressing. Even on sale, it’s over 20-cents an ounce. Again, we’d have to charge 60-cents to break even.

And of course, that doesn’t include the 7-cent ramekin that we put the “free” dressing in.

Oh wait…. here’s another!

Generic ranch dressing for 12.4-cents an ounce. Even the lowest quality dressing would cost us 38-cents to serve.

Luckily, we buy in bulk so we get a slight discount for a premium quality of dressing. How much of a discount?

10-cents an ounce. We lose money by selling our sides of dressing for a quarter.

Why on earth would we give it away for free with a slice that costs less than three bucks? I have no problem bringing out free dressings if you’re in a large party, eating a large pizza — not a big deal at all and I don’t think twice about it.

But a $2.75 slice and a free side of ranch?

I know that some of you are thinking Jeez, really? It’s just a few dimes, Kina. Chill.

Those few dimes add up to quite a few dollars a day. This would average over $150 in lost sales per month.

Tell me a business that would willingly do that.

Certainly not McDonald’s…

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9 Responses to The Great Ranch Debate

  1. Oh! Here I was getting ready for a different ‘great ranch debate’! See what happens when you live on a ranch? Totally different mind set!

    And then I thought, well, maybe this has to do with a ‘ranch lover’s pizza’ – and the debate is what to do about those that want to add chicken, or that order allow ‘veggi’!

    But since it is about dressing… we mix it ourselves.. And yes, Hidden Valley is the best.. but mixed, with whole milk and 100% real mayo. Yum…

  2. Ranch on pizza? Ewww…I’ve never heard of that, but I’m also a very picky eater. Ranch belongs on salad and for dipping vegetables…nothing else.

  3. Missy says:

    My 17 year old douses her pizza with vinegar. She’s weird.

  4. Jen F says:

    I agree with you, Kina. Ranch on pizza is nasty.

    But yummm… honey on my pizza bones is SO good! But no one stocks it anymore that I know of. Is it impolite to bring my own?

    • KeenEye says:

      We carry individual packets as well as offer a Honey Bear for our crust. I was first introduced to that by John Dough’s pizza in Bend. And you should absolutely bring your own if your pizza place doesn’t offer it.

  5. Dunc says:

    I don’t know…

    My attitude is, don’t sweat the small stuff….

  6. Lyle says:

    Hi Kina, I struggle with the same thing. They order a side of fries and then ask for a side of ranch. There are two sides to the debate. Yes, it does mess with your percentages and in the food game, they are a fine line sometimes. It is equally frustrating, however, when they want to use so much ranch dressing that the cost is more than the plate itself. You actually lose money on that and if all did it, we would go under fast.

    The other side is best said by Mr. Farrel from Farrels Ice Cream parlor who went all over the country preaching ‘Give them the pickle’.

    But, alas, isn’t Farrels out of business?

    And, hey, Duncan, sometimes the small stuff builds up to much bigger things. It is important that in today’s climate, we keep a close watch on that small stuff before it piles up and buries us.

  7. Dunc says:

    Shows you what kind of restaurateur I’d be…

    I guess my solution would be to not offer ranch at all; just not have it on the menu. But if I have it on the menu, just shrug and give it to them.

    In other words, I try to make the margins on my main product. Solve the problem at the management level, not at the customer level, if you see what I mean.

    My feeling is, any service that causes bad feelings isn’t a service…therefore eliminate it, and POOF, problem gone…But if you absolutely have to have it, anything that requires an explanation isn’t worth explaining. Just give it to them.

  8. Dunc says:

    A couple of examples of dealing with it at the management level:

    We sell dice, and we could sell individual dice even cheaper, but….customers have a tendency to take a long time to decide on a single dice, roll them and test them and hold them up to the light and all kinds of other nonsense….
    Plus they are extremely small and easy to pocket.

    So I used to be held to the counter until they decided.

    My decision was to charge enough — a big $1.00 — to be able to cover the possible shrinkage and to hand them a big treasure chest full of them and say, “Go ahead and decide and let me know…” and walk away.

    Or another example: someone hands me a credit card for a 1.00 purchase. I could explain to them that it cost money for a store to process the card, but what’s the point? — they won’t change and it just makes you sound petty.

    The biggest example for me, is that I used to trade sports cards with folk as a service…but as often as not, they’d get upset with how much I offered them (which was almost always too much for me and yet too little for them) and there was a host of other problems with the process…so I quit trading.

    And most ‘customers’ accepted it. From then on, I’d hear constant complaints about the “other guy’s” trading policy….so the customer couldn’t see the irony of me not trading at all as being less objectionable than the other guy not offering them enough!

    I was serious about not carrying ranch at all; most customers would just shrug after a second and move on….

    Meanwhile…

    I know when I go into a restaurant and I feel they are purposely skimping on the bread or the portions or the sauces, I’m less impressed. Especially if it is noticeably less than the last time I was there….I’ve always thought I’d shower them with the cheap condiments and bread and such….but your examples of the “cost” of this are enlightening.

    Still…I’ll stick to my comment about not sweating the small stuff. Just figure they’re loss leaders…

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