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The Craft

The ultimate resource for alcohol beverage news, trends and reports for bars, distributors and suppliers.


We’ve put together the tried-and-true ten commandments of responsible, effective bar and restaurant inventory management. Stick with these ten tips and you’ll be well on your way to inventory salvation.

Thou Shalt Categorize and Organize

To accurately take inventory, knowing where things are is a huge plus. It streamlines the entire process and that makes everyone’s day just a little bit better. Make sure to communicate to your designated receivers that things should be put in the same place, every time. To make things even easier, try organizing your inventory by category: dry goods, spirits, beer, etc. The more organized you can keep your inventory, the easier reporting and management will be.

Thou Shalt Strive to Maintain Low Stock

Overordering is a curse that affects each and every restaurant in the world. But with proper planning, a restaurant can learn how to keep just the bare minimum until that next delivery. There are plenty of benefits to this sort of ordering pattern, aside from saving a headache or two. Effective, minimal ordering will help ensure the standard FIFO practices (more on that later). This reduces waste by preventing spoilage, first and foremost. Keeping low stock will also put a halt on the never ending game of Tetris which many establishments find themselves playing when a new order arrives. By the time your purveyors bring in new product, you’ve already got the space for it!

Thou Shalt Monitor Pars and Adjust Inventory

This one takes some practice, we’ll be the first to admit. It takes time and it takes patience to learn the nuances and patterns of your establishment’s inventory. But if you give it time, proper planning will allow you to predict what’s due to run out, meaning you can always keep backups on hand. Because pars can often change with the seasons and with yearly sales trends, this one is certainly a long-term sort of project.

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Thou Shalt Track, Track, and Track Some More

Be sure to track everything that comes in and out of your bar or restaurant. Enter Provi. With Provi, ordering and inventory management has literally never been easier. Putting items in your system, reporting use/waste/sales, ordering, and analyzing those pieces of hard data is where Provi shines. Properly harnessing Provi’s functionality is, undoubtedly, a big step towards successful inventory management.

Thou Shalt FIFO

We know, we know. You don’t need us to tell you about FIFO. But, this is the Ten Commandments, after all. And what kind of Ten Inventory Commandments would this be without a mention of FIFO? If it showed up first, use it first. To ensure that all of your items are following the First In, First Out protocol, be sure to regularly remind and retrain your staff on best FIFO practices. In a business where so many ingredients go in and out, it’s critical to be using stock in the right order.

Thou Shalt Do Yearly Audits

There’s no way around it--this just isn’t fun. But, doing a comprehensive inventory count on an annual basis is going to solve a lot of problems and reveal issues you may not even be aware of. Try to plan this type of audit well in advance, and offer employees special compensation for taking part. This doesn’t need to be financial--consider ordering pizza or having inventory day catered. We’d also suggest spending a couple of days organizing your stock before doing this project! It’s gonna make things a lot easier for everyone.

Thou Shalt Perform Quality Control

Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you should be using it! Firstly, while doing inventory, take a minute to look through the items and check them for integrity. Taking inventory is a fantastic chance to give your entire stock the once-over. In addition, receiving new stock is another fantastic opportunity for some grade-A quality control. Make sure your receivers are specifically checking each and every item that comes in, and hold those employees accountable. Turning away low-quality or damaged goods when they arrive is going to save you a whole lot of stress later on.

Thou Shalt Develop Plans and Repeat Orders

This is another one that takes time to get right, but really helps with developing a smooth and seamless operation. Tech solutions like Provi can help you to develop and track what may become repeat orders. If you can look at hard data and past ordering patterns, it’s easy to streamline your ordering cadence.

Thou Shalt Look at the Big Picture

Please don’t just make things up as you go along. Have a plan with your inventory approach. Always have some year-end inventory goal or picture that you are trying to realize. Whether that’s simply to keep better inventory practices, or to completely overhaul your process… have a plan! It’s a stressful life, owning or managing a restaurant or bar, so there’s no need to make that even worse.

Thou Shalt Use Technology

Technology like Provi is here to help. Whether you provide your team with iPads or laptops, or simply use digital inventory options, use tech! We pride ourselves on making better inventory management systems for restaurants and bars across the nation through the use of simple, convenient tech. At Provi, we think setting up for success is step one. We encourage restaurants and bars everywhere to analyze how they use technology to better streamline and improve inventory management.

Make your bar inventory management more manageable 


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