Cheetah | Best Practices for Managing Your Restaurant Inventory

Best Practices for Managing Your Restaurant Inventory

male chef cook with clipboard calling on smartphone at the restaurant kitchen. Restaurant owner doing inventory

Testing menus, creating interior designs, and thinking up trendy new concepts is a dream come true for all restaurateurs. But running a restaurant is not all fun and games. To generate actual profits, you have to treat it as a business. This means doing the grunt work of preparing taxes and bookkeeping, following laws and regulations, and above all, managing your inventory. 

Inventory is basically everything you have at hand, from produce to dry stores to utensils, lines and furniture. Whether your restaurant is a small, local establishment or an enterprise with numerous locations, proper inventory management is crucial for maximising your profit.  

Restaurant owners lose an average of 10% of their revenue because of poor inventory management. Keeping track of supplies, food waste, billing and monitoring employees, is a good way to avoid this situation. Here are some practical tips for an efficient and profitable inventory management.

Inventory Management Systems Are Your Best Friend

The best place to start is to accurately account for the inventory you have been using and to use that data to make informed purchases.

Once you have a system that helps you keep track of everything you have in stock at any given moment, you’ll be able to plan orders, calculate food costs, and be creative with menu changes much more efficiently. Automated inventory management software is a great way to gain a bigger picture of the movement of ingredients and products. These can help you cut inventory checks from a week to a day, minimize the number of employees you have working to control your food costs, reduce food waste, and schedule your food and supply deliveries.

Another good strategy for avoiding food waste is First-in, First-out. FIFO means that the older food in your inventory gets used first to ensure nothing goes bad. This is without a doubt the golden rule every restaurant inventory manager should follow.

To implement FIFO productively, label all your food with the date it was received and its expiry date. Use the food that will expire sooner first. Keep track of everything that goes in and out of the kitchen and adjust your delivery and storage limits accordingly.

Another good strategy for avoiding food waste is First-in, First-out. FIFO means that the older food in your inventory gets used first to ensure nothing goes bad. This is without a doubt the golden rule every restaurant inventory manager should follow.

To implement FIFO productively, label all your food with the date it was received and its expiry date. Use the food that will expire sooner first. Keep track of everything that goes in and out of the kitchen and adjust your delivery and storage limits accordingly.

 

Train Your Staff


All your inventory management systems won’t be worth much if your chefs, line cooks, waiters and back-of-house staff are not trained to follow your guidelines and help you keep a smooth operation on a daily basis.

 

Nominate two trusted team members to be in charge of inventory and introduce them to the management software you are using. Make sure all team members are aware of proper procedures and follow them religiously.

 

Everyone needs to be on board and taught how to keep track of spillage, errors, and spoiled food. Every supply or ingredient that gets deducted from your inventory can count as a loss or a gain – the difference in knowing why. Whether it was sold, thrown out, spilled, sent back by a customer, or simply went missing, you need to know the reason. While two dedicated team members can help you understand what ingredients are in stock at all times, your entire staff needs to be involved in flagging issues, adjusting deliveries, and minimizing losses.

A disturbing and not uncommon pain point for restaurant owners is employee theft. In the restaurant industry, $3 to $6 billion losses are attributed to employee theft. Theft in a restaurant can have many faces like self-imposed breaks, eating free food, register skimming, and more. While outright theft is hard to eliminate, there are things you can do to set up a kitchen culture that reduces your risk. Establish trust-based relationships with your staff as well as provide them with a fulfilling work environment. When your staff feels responsible for the success of the business, theft is less appealing.

Make a list of menu items, ingredients and quantities for smart ordering.

Stick to the Menu When Stocking Up on Inventory

A great restaurant owner knows how to keep things interesting by changing up the menu as the seasons change, inserting local ingredients and foods into the dishes and keeping up with industry trends. But keeping things lively while properly managing and planning ahead can be tricky. 

It’s important to diligently note every ingredient that goes into your dishes. Working with suppliers who have automated orders and deliveries will ensure you never run out of anything or overspend.  deliveries from a trusted food supplier will help you make wise purchases, save you time, and ensure your food is always fresh and tasty.

Takeaways

Many restaurant owners feel that taking inventory is a laborious, complicated chore. But like any business, the end result depends on your preparation. Missing ingredients, a disorganised kitchen, and poor staff training hurt your customers and your bottom line. 

The more insight into your inventory you have, the better situated you’ll be to strategise and the more creative you can afford to be. Instead of trying to avoid it, set up inventory management systems that can automate parts of the process, help your team implement strategies, and, most importantly, be consistent about tracking your inventory. 

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