Inventory day is notorious among restaurant workers for its tediousness and potential to cause discomfort and frustration. Besides the odd employee who loves to count, sort, and organize, most people don’t relish the idea of hanging out in cold walk-ins of cramped cellars tallying up their contents. And the potential for unearthing a long-forgotten jar of something that may-once-have-been-edible makes it even less appealing.
But keeping a close eye on your inventory is a critical aspect of maintaining a business in the hospitality industry as it gives you a clear idea of what you have available to sell, what gaps you need to fill, and what the hot-ticket items on your menu are that month. In this post, we’ll provide you with a set of tips that will make your inventory experience a whole lot easier.
Provi is an ecommerce platform specific to purveyors of alcohol, and the examples we use in this post will be most relevant to beverage-forward establishment owners. But all of these tips will be just as relevant for restauranteurs on the sober side of the market, as well. Let’s dive in.
Inventory Tip #1 - Organization is key
You want your employees to dominate at tetris on inventory setup. Everywhere you store anything, whether over the long term or for day-to-day usage, should be immaculately and logically organized. A place for everything, and everything in its place, as the saying goes.
Behind the bar, in your walk-in, and anywhere you keep dishes and dry goods need to be grouped and sorted sensibly and accessibly so you can get to them when you need to, and will see a low level coming before it becomes an issue.
Learning your storage strategy should be part of training for any of your employees that will be interacting with your inventory. Everyone should be familiar with the layout, understand where to put things and how to shift stock as things sell, and when to alert your buyer to a shortage.
The layout of your establishment will determine how you may organize your inventory. Beyond adhering to food safety guidelines, the most important thing is that your strategy makes sense. Consider also making a map for an at-a-glance reference.
Inventory Tip #2 - Set up an inventory spreadsheet
You should have an active document to help you track what you have, where it is, and how many or much of a given item there is. Ideally, the spreadsheet will be updated every time something is used or shifted so you have a clear idea of how flush or low your stocks are without needing to take a physical count more often than is necessary.
Consider making a unique spreadsheet for every storage location within your establishment. You should have one for behind the bar, one for below the bar, one for the walk-in, one for long-term storage, and one for your dry goods section, and any other areas you might keep inventory.
If you want to get really organized, have the order of the spreadsheet list reflect the physical layout of inventory.
Inventory Tip #3 - Use inventory software
Using a software solution to track your inventory saves you the trouble of having to do everything by hand, all the time. Without quality inventory software you end up spending more time tallying your stock and filling out order forms, and less time getting to know your customers and providing the winning service to which you owe your business.
Provi is a clear, straightforward alcohol inventory management solution designed to make your life a little easier with an intuitive software that integrates inventory management with both ordering and distributor communications, locating three different processes in one easy-to-use program. Provi lets you track past orders to see what your top-selling products are, provides a fast and safe way to order what you need, and tracks your inventory so you can plan your restock well in advance.
Talk to one of our reps today to see if Provi is right for you.
Inventory Tip #4 - Reduce inventory
Take a good, hard look at your pantry and ask yourself: how much of this do I actually need?
Excessive inventory not only gives you more work to do when it comes to counting, but can also mean waste in terms of both money and product, as well as storage space potential. Maybe you could add another booth where you’re keeping all that birthday cake schnapps that never gets ordered.
Unused inventory can also cause bad margins and may give you a skewed idea of your monthly expenses. In all cases, you should prioritize fast-moving inventory over the stuff that doesn’t sell, or rolls out at a snail’s pace. You can always address a special request if a customer decides they want a shot of BC schnapps after all.
Inventory Tip #5 - Integrate POS with inventory
Look into acquiring a POS system that integrates directly with your inventory software, or updates your inventory as sales are made. This can be an easy and efficient way to track stock and get an idea of what your best-selling items are so you can plan both your orders and your menu well in advance.
Look for inventory management within a POS or one with an integrated inventory tracking mechanism that works well with your sales numbers and automatically updates.
Final Thoughts: Inventory tips for bars and restaurants
No one loves inventory. But it can be made a whole lot more likeable by following these top tips.
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Whether you’re a bar, retailer, distributor, or brand— growing your company is hard work. Success in the alcohol industry requires a lot of time, great relationships, and staying informed. Get access to all three and prosper using Provi.