Inventory is a chore. It can be boring and frustrating for any staff member assigned to take the counts and fill out the forms, and it can be stressful for managers who must scour those inventory sheets for mistakes before they cost the company thousands. Purchasing is no picnic either. An entire order can be messed up by a single calculating error on the inventory slips, and then the snowball of a disaster starts to roll. You can end up with too much product that will spoil before you can use it, or you could end up with not enough of an integral ingredient, making customers angry that they can't order their favorite dishes. No matter how you look at it, messing up inventory or ordering can have catastrophic results on your bottom line, employee morale, and your reputation.
With paper inventory sheets and handwritten notes, it's easy to see why mistakes happen in the first place. A wet, damaged, or destroyed inventory list is either hard to read or will need to be replaced completely—that's extra time and money you could have been using to improve the business or connect with customers in person. Those old inventory sheets can pile up, collect dust, and take up space that could be used for upgraded equipment or other important things. Plus, when it's time to dispose of the useless sheets, you either have to spend time shredding them yourself for the recycling bin or pay another company to take them away and destroy them. Either way, that's more time and money wasted.
Purchasing and inventory control should be easy, and thanks to advances in technology, it finally is. Below, we discuss the top three easy ways to streamline your purchasing and inventory control without breaking your budget or causing a riot in the staff room.
As surprising as it may seem, this is one of the places a lot of restaurants make mistakes. Whether it's the desire to get the job done faster—resulting in listing mistakes or bad counts—or inexperience with making inventory lists, this is the top place that inventory control truly suffers. Stop the avalanche of misfortune that can start from a bad list by taking the time to create excellent inventory sheets right from the start. Just don't go running to your paper and pens just yet.
The most efficient way to create, edit, and manage purchasing and inventory control lists is by using digital tools, such as Microsoft Excel, and various apps designed with the user in mind. By using digital spreadsheets, you're eliminating the cost and labor associated with paper lists and purchase orders. You're also increasing productivity by giving your employees a real-time solution to the purchasing and inventory control problems that can bring a business's efficiency to a grinding halt. When inventory and ordering sheets are well made and easy to use, employees are less stressed when it's time to fill them out.
TIP - Build multiple lists in Excel, then use powerful apps to help customize, modify, update, and deploy those lists in real-time.
Having digital spreadsheets to help with purchasing and inventory control is a good start, but if you want to truly improve your bottom line, and reduce stress and expenses, you need to add apps.
Superior inventory control includes the ability to organize purchase and inventory lists, track trends over time, make changes and updates in real-time, and makes it possible to access your data anywhere from any connected device. Excel spreadsheets help you get your data into digital format, while productivity apps give you the tools to truly use that information to make on-the-spot decisions and stop catastrophes before they happen. Imagine being able to see an inventory miscount as soon as it's entered and before the wrong number gets sent to the purchase order. That's only possible with the right inventory control app.
TIP - Look for an app that includes cloud storage for all data and the ability to access that data through multiple connected devices. Your proximity to the storeroom shouldn't dictate your access to your data, and now it doesn't have to.
When your information is stored in the cloud, and you're able to access it from anywhere with your connected devices, you can call up reports and track trends with ease. No more digging through old files or boxes, no more stressing out over missing sheets, and no more wasted time, space, and money trying to compile your data by hand.
A good productivity app will have the tools to help your purchasing and inventory control duties go smoothly, and will give you all your information with the tap or swipe of your finger. Track sales, promotional results, and the efficiency of your staff, all at your fingertips. Using compiled data and detailed reports, you can better predict what products you should restock at what times of the year, and reduce waste and spoilage in the process.
TIP - Choose purchasing and inventory control apps that are flexible and can change based on your needs. If you have a lot of choices between compatible apps, you'll be able to fine-tune your inventory control with ease.
These tips should help you build or revamp your current purchasing and inventory control systems. With this guide, you can make inventory and ordering duties simple, fast, and painless, and you can do so without the worry that mistakes will go unnoticed and snowball out of control. With error messaging and the ability to check results in real-time, you can always stay on top of your business's inventory.
There's a lot more productivity apps can add beyond the purchasing and inventory control aspects we've covered here. The time of dreading inventory control and purchasing is over. Welcome to the new age of digital business management. If you’re still interested in learning more about proper and efficient inventory and ordering processes, check out our “How to Choose the Best Inventory Control Software for Small Businesses” article for additional guidance in selecting the correct solution for you and your business.