Restaurant inventory management is one of the critical aspects of running a food business successfully. In today’s competitive business landscape, it’s imperative for restaurant owners to acquire new customers and get repeat business. The only surefire way to achieve this is effectively managing inventory and streamline business processes.
A study by Foodprint revealed that many restaurants in the United States are wasting up to 10% of their inventory. Finding ways to track every ingredient going in and out of the stock can help eliminate waste, manage inventory effectively, improve the supply flow, and minimize errors.
If you’re running a restaurant and looking out for potential ways to manage inventory, this blog is for you. Familiarize yourself with the best practices to maximize inventory so as to reduce your business’s overall operating cost and revenue.
What is Restaurant Inventory Management?
Restaurant inventory management refers to the process of tracking and recording raw materials coming in and out of your restaurant. Keeping control on inventory allows you to trace the quantity of ingredients ordered and the amount of leftovers afterward. Even though the process can be time consuming and seems challenging, getting an accurate picture of inventory on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis can help you prevent losing inventory. There are several factors that may lead to inventory loss and these include spoilage, wastage, thefts, calamities, etc.
This is why, when it comes to calculating the accurate sitting inventory, there are a few restaurant inventory management practices that every restaurant must implement to control inventory and ensure smooth running of a food service business.
8 Best Practices for Restaurant Inventory Management
Below are some of the best practices for food inventory management every restaurant must consider:
1. Having a Food Inventory Software in Place
As a restaurant owner, the first and foremost thing you need to do to effectively manage inventory is to integrate an automated food inventory software in your business. Doing so will enable you to automatically reduce your overhead expenses and help you streamline your day-to-day operations. Leveraging the software, you’ll be able to keep track of your restaurant’s stock during shift changes and get real-time updates of your inventory.
2. Training Restaurant Staff Effectively
Whenever you integrate a new inventory management system for restaurants to your restaurant business, it’s vital that you train your staff on how to use it the right way. No matter whether your staff member is already technically sound, providing appropriate training will help them get the hang of the software. In addition, make sure to allow your staff members to utilize food inventory software and work on it daily. This won’t only help them regularly practice on it and get good at it, but will enable them to effectively manage restaurant inventory, drastically reduce wastage, and maximize your profits.
3. Streamlining Inventory Usage
Food inventory management requires appropriate usage which is only possible with proper stock organization. This is why, to keep your inventories in control,restaurant staff must keep everything organized. While vegetables must be stored at the back of the fridge, fruits should be kept in the front. If an ingredient is removed from its storage space but not used up, it should be kept back to its original place to avoid spoilage, waste, or theft. Also, it’s imperative that everything is labeled properly and is placed in such a way that the ‘soon to expire’ items are kept in front. This is called FIFO (First In, First Out) stock rotation method that reduces spoilage significantly.
4. Restricting Access to Inventory Data
To effectively manage inventory in restaurants, it’s always a good idea to keep inventory data safe and secure. This means the access should only be given to the staff responsible for inventory management. One of the best ways to do this is setting up user accounts for waiters, chefs, managers, and other staff members. Once the accounts are established, this will allow the users to access only the information that they need to view. You can easily allocate separate user ids and passwords to each staff member and keep track of who is accessing which information.
5. Limiting Storage Capacity
Try to limit the storage capacity in your restaurant as this will prevent overbuying stock. Also, always ensure to keep the limit as minimum as possible so as to ensure that you have sufficient stock to serve your next order. If you’re keeping the higher limit, it’ll help you ensure that your food is used efficiently and isn’t wasted. Once you’re successful in maintaining these limits, it’ll make the inventory management process of your restaurant much easier, effective, and efficient. Besides, your staff will be able to keep kitchen and inventory storage rooms well-stocked, organized, and tidy.
6. Keeping a Regular Check on Inventory
As per a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, restaurants in the United States waste around 43 billion pounds of food annually. While tracking inventory multiple times in a day isn’t feasible for restaurants, checking inventory through a restaurant inventory management system can help save a lot of effort, time, and money. However, assigning a few staff members to take inventory by hand will help you track available stock, calculate wastage, and take necessary action. Once your staff has a well-maintained, hand-made inventory sheet, you can easily tally your inventory consumption with the system.
7. Maintaining the Authenticity and Taste
The only thing that excites your guests to revisit your restaurant is the taste and quality of food you serve. Even if the kitchen staff or chefs change, delivering consistent taste in food is vital to make sure your customers keep coming back. This can be achieved by storing recipes and ingredients in your restaurant’s POS system. Not only will this help in maintaining the same authenticity in the dishes, but will also enable them to keep an eye on the stock so that required ingredients are always available to prepare the dishes with the same taste.
8. Avoiding Overbuying and Misuse of Inventory
When you have good food inventory management software in your restaurant, it becomes easy to avoid misuse and poor management of inventory items by the kitchen staff. For example, you can set up inventory request approval in the system so that the staff can use items only after your approval. Besides, this also ensures that staff is adding sufficient inventory requirements only when the ingredients are running low in stock. This will help you buy only what’s needed and prevent overbuying stock and ultimately reduce spoilage due to overstocking.
Level Up Your Restaurant Business with Food Inventory Management
Keeping a close watch on your restaurant’s inventory and tracking operating expenses enables you to manage your food inventory efficiently. With your food inventory managemen in control you not only save on food wastage, but are also able to keep your costs in control and maximize your profits. Therefore, consider following the above-mentioned inventory management practices and see your restaurant thrive!