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Getting A Handle on Your Inventory in The Restaurants Business

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Cafe and restaurant inventory management is the necessary evil every budding restauranteur gas got to handle. Boring as it may sound, getting a handle on the inventory in your restaurant can mean the difference between success and failure.

Why Is Inventory Management Important?

Well, if you are clueless about the quantity and the quality of the products in your dry goods storage area, your garde manger, or your cold storage area, then you can’t really tell if all items on your menu are available to your customers.

My Top Seven Tips for Handling Restaurant Inventory

Getting a handle on your inventory in the restaurant business is a process, rather than a one-time act. As such, it is usually implemented in steps, usually made one after the other.

Keeping track of your inventory may seem like a boring chore, but it has actually got its tangible importance and should be addressed with the due seriousness.

Daunting as it may sound, the process itself doesn’t have to be difficult once you learn the ropes. All you really need to do is develop a thorough protocol, and firmly stick to it.

I know, I’m not making inventory management in your restaurant sound any more appealing, but it is something you just cannot do without.

If you ask why the steps to getting a handle on your inventory in the restaurant business are exactly seven and not, say, three or five, remember the seven deadly sins, or the importance of the first seven years in one’s upbringing.

1. Tune up your Point of Sale System to Track Your Inventory

First, take the time to enter into the system every single ingredient that goes into the food items on your menu. Thus, you’ll be able to keep track of how much raw is stuff going in your pantry and your freezers and how much ready items are made out of it.

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You may sell pork chops and beef steaks, but you’re buying whole pigs, beef, also huge cans of cheese, and also copious amounts of milk and butter for your demi-glace, or your Bechamel white sauce.

Define minimum levels of each ingredient, and link them to your purveyors. When your place runs short of a particular stock item,  a good pos system can alert you to this fact and even generate a purchase order to restock, ready for you to sign. In the future, the system may even be able to call your purveyor and buy food products for you.

Entering all of your menu items comes next, since they are made out of the row products and foodstuffs that you stock up. By entering the items in this order, your Point of Sale system can tell you how many eggs are used for the omelets you sell during Sunday’s brunch, etc.

2. Prepare Your Staff for the Inventory Routine

I have learned from successful restauranteurs across the USA that at least two staff members should be responsible for inventory management, so that it runs smoothly.

As a restaurant owner, you should definitely install CCTV cameras in your pantry and in your cold room, as well as in your dry goods storage area, or else these premises can be looted by your own kitchen staff and bartenders.

3. Get Ready for the Big Count

Now, that every item is set to be counted at the Point of Sale, you’ve got to count them all yourself first. It does not matter if you counted them the day before. You’re starting a new routine, and it’s best to start from scratch.

Take the time to count everything that is countable. Weigh everything that needs to be weighed. Update all quantities and record them. Then, get someone of your employees to do it all over again, just to make sure that the numbers add up.

4. The Routine of Manual Stock-takes

You’ve got to embrace the routine of manual stock-takes, if you want to get the full picture of your inventory.

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The truth is that the amount of food loss and food waste in the restaurant industry is truly monstrous. Liquids get spilt by hectic line cooks, leafy greens wilt, meat starts going off at some point even in the freezer.

Hardliners in the industry advise that perishable items must be checked daily for quality. Non-perishable items should be counted once or twice a week, always when the place is closed.

5. Record Your Waste

Any time foodstuffs get deducted from your inventory you should know why. Most of the time your sales reports should provide the answer. But when food doesn’t get sold and still gets taken off the shelf? You need to know that, too.

As you do your regular manual stock-takes, don’t just throw away the expired items and update your inventory. Record the waste, and always add the reason. The same routine should be performed when something is spilt, or a customer sends something back.

When you know what you’ve wasted, you can calculate the losses the waste has caused. When you know why you’ve wasted the said items, you can take measures to prevent it from happening again.

6. Good Inventory Management Prevents Overstocking

Anytime you know you’ll be taking deliveries, make sure you’ve just completed a manual stock-take. Thus, the risk of overstocking becomes insignificant. Overstocking, in turn, is one of the most common reasons for food waste.

7. Inventory Management Borders on Obsession

If you follow all these steps day in and day out, you’ll get a firm handle on the inventory of your restaurant. Thus, you will know how much stuff you should order from your purveyors at any particular time of the year, making the most out of every dollar you invest in supplies.

That’s why inventory management should become your obsession. The flow of inventory from the delivery door in the back all the way through the kitchen to your customers’ stomachs will give you a truthful representation of how your restaurant business is doing.

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