Keeping an adequate restaurant inventory proves essential for success, but overstocking could lead to spoilage, theft and cash-flow problems. Food costs run higher than most other restaurant expenses, and proper management of inventory helps to limit losses, improve kitchen speed and reduce the time needed to reorder stock.
Inventory Tracking System
Accurate inventory records make inventory and ordering more efficient so that restaurant staffs become free for other duties. Taking the time to organize storerooms, freezers and walk-in coolers improves production speed and allows lower-level workers to handle simple counting tasks. Point-of-sale systems and inventory-management software help to make inventory tasks more efficient, identify waste and fraud and organize inventory more efficiently.
- Accurate inventory lists help chefs plan specials and use perishable produce before it spoils.
- Inventory-control systems help managers assess how much product, the restaurant uses on a daily and weekly basis.
- A strong inventory system matches food usage with inventory to identify possible thefts, fraud and waste.
Software Based Inventory Management
Information technology has advanced rapidly, and software programs help to organize, track, prioritize and reorder stock efficiently. Modern IT software systems manage inventory, facilitate the production process, save time and increase profitability.
- The cost of food never tells the whole story. Steam tables cause waste of food, kitchen errors lead to lost profits, and employees take advantage of loose inventory systems to steal valuable commodities.
- Software helps to identify the performance shortcomings of particular chefs, servers and other restaurant staff members.
- Cost savings generated by IT systems more than cover their own costs by saving money lost due to waste, fraud and theft, and they insure proper levels of stock to generate more sales opportunities.
- Strong restaurant inventory management helps to make better estimates of food costs so that management can price meals competitively.
Limiting Food Spoilage and Identifying Problems
Inventory methods help to optimize food usage by recommending which ingredients need to be used quickly to avoid spoilage. Strong inventory systems serve as deterrents to theft because employees understand that all stock is carefully managed. Inventory tracking allows managers to identify excess waste, measure food-cost initiatives for success and never risk running out of essential staples.
Managers can offer incentives and rewards to their staffs for meeting production goals, reducing waste and portioning food properly. Many informal restaurants lose profits to portion-control problems. Inventory management can help to identify exactly where the stock is going so that managers can target the areas for policy changes or disciplinary actions.
Inventory-management Benefits Extend to the Front of the House
Tight inventories help to reduce spoilage and waste because managers can use ingredients more efficiently. Staff make fewer errors when they understand they have limited resources. Front-of-the-house service also benefits from strong inventory-control systems.
- Beverage costs run less than food, but cost savings still mean pure profit for restaurant owners.
- Inventory management could lead to adjusting syrup and carbonated water percentages, coffee-machine volumes and alcohol pours in mixed drinks.
- Bartenders frequently pocket cash during busy bar times, and strong inventory-management techniques help to catch criminal activity.
- Servers often need to answer questions from customers about special orders and catering projects. Accurate records help staff members answer questions quickly and accurately, leading to more sales.
- Paper supplies for carryout and special orders might have fewer demands from customers so that inventory-takers forget to order them. IT management software makes reviews of inventory mandatory to avoid coming up short.
Putting Your Inventory System into Action
To get these benefits, you need to set up a workflow to match software against real-world stocks. Obviously, the inventory will coincide with ordering but that does not mean you have to wait until you place an order. More periodic counts are often justified, even daily. Daily counts enable you to track your employees with better precision. The point is to set up a system (times and responsibilities) and stick with it.
The true cost of food depends on portion control, spoilage, waste and theft. Analyzing these factors often proves complicated for managers and owners, but strong inventory techniques, IT software and transparent inventory policies help. Many managers fail to calculate the cost of food accurately so that menu prices become too inexpensive.
Savings generated from restaurant inventory-control systems become pure profit for restaurant owners, so taking the time to organize inventory procedures justifies the time and trouble of organizing inventory tasks. Accurate inventory improves customer service, strengthens employee morale and generates greater restaurant profits.