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3 Tips for Better Restaurant Inventory Management

It’s a familiar story. You worked hard and now have a popular restaurant. You’re getting great reviews and tables are constantly turning. Your revenue is at record levels, but your profits are not where they should be. By your calculations, food costs are under 30 percent, but you can’t figure out where the profits are going. In situations like this, there’s a good chance the “hidden” costs of poor inventory management may be eating away your profits. Fortunately, we have three tips that will help restaurant management reduce those “hidden” inventory costs and improve the bottom-line:

1. Use Inventory Management Software

Spreadsheets are so 20th century. Using inventory management software is the most efficient method for controlling inventory in a restaurant today. Not only will it reduce mathematical and other calculation errors, it will significantly speed up the input process so staff members will spend less time entering data. Plus, executive chefs and owners will have a variety of inventory reports at their fingertips. This will allow them to make smarter inventory adjustments that will ultimately reduce waste and spoilage of perishables and other food products while improving their bottom-line. Also, the Georgia Restaurant Association recommends looking for inventory management solutions compatible with your POS.

 2. Reconcile Inventory Regularly

All restaurants need an accurate count of their inventory on a regular basis to avoid over-ordering and excessive waste and spoilage. The best way to do this is to assign and train one or two individuals such as the bartender, chef or sous-chef who will have the responsibility to regularly take an accurate inventory count for their work area. Inventory should be taken on the same day each week or daily for busier restaurants.

 3. Proper Storage for Perishables

Since much of the “hidden” inventory costs are due to spoilage it is important to ensure refrigeration and cold storage units are in working order and products are stored in air-tight containers at the optimum temperature. This will help keep perishable food items fresher longer. Also, insist on products being stored, dated and labeled as soon as they arrive. To increase efficiency in the kitchen, use small to medium sized storage containers so sous-chefs can quickly grab the products they need for the day’s prep work. Containers should be arranged neatly so team members can easily find the products they need. It will also help make inventory reconciliation and management easier.

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