Many new business owners believe they need to do everything themselves. They are their own accountants, their own bartenders, their own marketers, their own Inventory Managers. Especially in smaller establishments, visionary proprietors with an artisanal approach may in the name of perfection forget to delegate, and find themselves quickly overwhelmed by the amount of work on their plate.
But you shouldn’t have to do everything yourself. In fact, it’s in your business’ best interest to hire a team of dedicated professionals who can keep the day-to-day ball rolling while you focus on bigger picture stuff.
And one of the most important roles to fill that will make your life much, much easier is that of Inventory Manager. These spreadsheet stars know how to keep tabs on what’s selling and what’s stagnating, strategize your backstock, and order at precisely the right moment to remain on budget and meet the needs of your customers.
No matter your bar or restaurant’s size or typical service night, if you don’t already have one, it’s time to hire an inventory manager.
Why hire an Inventory Manager?
It’s the Inventory Manager’s job to make sure you have everything you need for a full night of service. They are able to track stock, and predict surplus or shortages so you don’t need to worry about running out of your house gin in the middle of hosting a Royal Wedding watch party, or overspending on a niche craft beverage that won’t sell.
An Inventory Manager is also able to streamline ordering processes, budgetary determinations, and inventory tracking strategies to keep your business at optimum functionality and profitability.
What does an Inventory Manager oversee?
An Inventory Manager’s realm of responsibility goes well beyond just your food and beverage selection. Areas of oversight in an Inventory Manager’s domain most typically include:
- Food. Everything edible, from meats and dairy products, to fruits and veggies falls under this category.
- Dry goods. This includes things like salt and pepper, spices, baking ingredients, and sometimes grains and powdered goods.
- Beverages. This means liquor, beer, wine, cider, non-alcoholic drinks and ingredients, and more.
- Cooking equipment. This includes pots and pans, spatulas and wooden spoons, blenders and taps, and even larger implements like grilltops and dishwashers.
You can also define this category to include dining room supplies as well, such as plates, glasses, and silverware.
- Linens. This includes back-of-house as well as front-of-house materials: cleaning rags, cloth napkins, and tablecloths all fall under this label.
- Worker uniforms. If you supply the uniforms for your staff, this can mean full outfits in addition to standard aprons, name tags and hairnets.
- Consumables. You might define this differently depending on the kind of establishment you run.
In a restaurant this might include paper napkins, disposable cups and straws, non-edible garnish, receipt paper, temporary menus, specials board chalk, order pads and pens, (pause for breath) etc.
If you own a drinks-only bar, this may include edible garnishes and dry goods in addition to everything else.
Who acts as the Inventory Manager in a restaurant
Ideally, the role of Inventory Manager in your establishment will be a discrete position or department to ensure that inventory is being appropriately tracked and stocked as needed. However the operations of inventory management require some level of teamwork to make sure everything runs smoothly, and both workers and customers are getting their needs met.
While one person or a team typically oversees the tracking and ordering aspect of inventory management, it is the responsibility of all team members to note inventory levels of the products they work with on a regular basis so the Inventory Manager can keep track of stock numbers across the board and refill when necessary.
Establishments might also take a more modern approach to inventory tracking and integrate their POS system with a digital inventory tracking solution. These programs estimate inventory levels based on items being purchased and provide alerts when something needs to be refilled.
What to look for when searching for an Inventory Manager
Assuming you prefer a more hands-on approach to inventory management, here’s what to look for when interviewing Inventory Manager candidates.
- Skills: Inventory Management is a highly professional role, and your candidate must have the following skills.
- Great written and verbal communications.
- Problem solving.
- Ability to work as part of a team, or independently.
- A degree of technological savvy.
- Organization: Your Inventory manager needs to be a spreadsheet whiz, and should have a solid understanding of organizational structures that will help them keep a close and precise eye on levels within your establishment. Nothing should get lost in the sauce under their organizational strategy.
- Attention to detail: In practice this means that your Inventory Manager should be able to catch any errors in inventory tracking before they become a problem. They should also know how to spot sales trends – whether the popularity of a given item is rising or falling – and make purchasing recommendations based on that observation.
- Experience: Inventory management is not an entry level position. Your candidate should either have an educational background in which they learned the tricks of the trade, or significant professional experience in which they worked with inventory in some capacity.
Internal vs. external hires
Internal: Hiring from your existing team members is a great way to boost morale and improve employee retention by offering meaningful growth opportunities to your staff. However in most bars and restaurants, inventory management as a role given to an existing employee will most often mean an increase in pay and responsibilities tacked onto their current position, rather than a complete role change. Of course, their pay raise should reflect standards of inventory manager salary.
External: If you have an open and discrete role available, make sure to place emphasis on experience, capacity for learning, and reliability when interviewing your candidates. Ideally they will already have a broad understanding of inventory systems, and can walk you through their personal strategy for tracking and ordering.
Provi can help
Adding inventory management responsibilities onto an existing role in your establishment sounds like a lot. But Provi makes it easy, by integrating inventory management with multi-vendor ordering which your Inventory Manager can access from a single platform. All of your paperwork, communications, and even inventory lists are kept within the solution so you can keep a favorites list of your most popular items, order for your bar in less than five minutes, and get back to the fun side of working in a bar.