Managing inventory is a complex system of procedures and rules. The challenges of inventory management should come as no surprise, especially to those who are veterans of the restaurant industry. It’s a pretty logical conclusion to reach, seeing as there are so many steps, and infinitely more variables, involved in successfully managing inventory without any major errors (ideally without any errors at all).
That being said, in this article, we are going to address five of the most common errors with managing inventory. We do so in the hopes that, by understanding what the mistakes are, you will be less likely to make them yourself. Don’t worry; these are all mistakes that are easy for anyone to make, regardless of their seniority in the industry. Still, if you remain vigilant, and listen to the points we are about to make, then your likelihood of making these same mistakes is cut down significantly. With all of that out of the way, let’s get right into the five mistakes!
Admittedly, counting inventory at the wrong time is a bit more of a newbie mistake, but if you’ve never been corrected, then you could continue doing this improperly. When managing inventory, it's important to consider when the inventory count is conducted. If you take count too early in your ordering cycle, you’re not going to know exactly how much of something you need. If you wait too late, then you’re either going to end up with too much or a late order. Either way, figure out how long it takes between inventory and order delivery and then determine from there about when you should be conducting the count.
Double checking your count should be a part of your process every single time you conduct an inventory count. Whether you have the initial staff member that did the count go back and repeat it, or have another person do so to have two different perspectives, the point remains that this is a vital step. If you get two counts, and they don’t match, then you know you need someone else to go in and do it again for (hopefully) a tie-breaker. If an employee is consistently incorrect in their counts, then it is a sign that they should not be in charge of inventory counting. Either way, managing inventory means double checking the count, which will save you a lot of grief down the line, and potentially a lot of money too.
After you’ve gone through the stress of making sure your count is done perfectly, you are instantly presented with another opportunity for things to go awry. The inventory count can’t be done out loud, after all; it has to be written down and recorded. This step is just as vital as the last since the inventory count must be recorded with the same accuracy as it was conducted with if the information is to be of any value to you. There is a managing inventory life hack for this one, though, and it comes in the form of Zip Inventory. Ultimately, the best you can do is double check this, as well.
Now that you have the inventory count conducted properly, recorded properly, and done at the best possible time, you need to interpret the data presented. This is the next point where things can go wrong in inventory management since this is where you translate the inventory count into your ordering needs. Give everything a few reads before you even attempt to do anything with it, and you will be better off, as you need to become familiar with the data before you attempt to synthesize it.
Having multiple chefs and other cooks as staff members isn’t so much an error-causing action as it is a potential explanation for the errors involved. It’s a widely accepted principle that the more steps there are in a process, the more potential points of error there are. Keep this in mind as you’re managing inventory in your business. See if there are any spots where you can trim certain steps down, combine them, or otherwise attempt to limit the potential error points without sacrificing the integrity of the process.
Well, there you have it, folks - our look at the top five points of error within the process of managing inventory. We tried to break everything down in an almost step-by-step fashion, such that you gained some idea of what not to do at each step in the inventory management process. Hopefully, now you are more confident in your ability to conduct this process without making at least most of these errors. If you are, but you still want to learn even more about the inventory management process and how to master it, then have a look at our “How to Choose the Best Inventory Control Software for Small Businesses” article we’ve written on the subject also on the Hubworks Blog.