operations | 3 mins read

3 Tips for Best Inventory Management Practices in a Restaurant

3 tips for best inventory management practices in a restaurant
Caroline Sams

By Caroline Sams

One of the struggles plaguing restaurant owners is ensuring the various, seemingly endless tasks they and their employees are responsible for completing on a daily basis, are properly tended to. Some of these tasks are simple, such as locking the doors at the end of the night or stocking the restrooms. Other tasks can be more difficult, such as managing schedules or inputting information for payroll. One thing these tasks have in common is that they have specific processes that must be followed to guarantee they are done correctly, effectively, and efficiently.

Doing the inventory in a restaurant can easily be one of the most daunting tasks that staff and administration will face. It certainly isn't so much a challenging task, but the weight of its importance and the monotony can wear down on whoever has been assigned to complete it. The repetition can be, quite frankly, boring to just about anyone, and excessive boredom can lead to more errors. Inventory management in a restaurant is a complex and dull task, but it's crucial to success.

This article will present three methods to ensure your employees (or yourself) are conducting inventory in the best, most efficient, and most effective way possible. These three methods are not overly specific, step-by-step instructions so much as they are guiding principles to help you better understand the inventory management process, and be better equipped to handle it in the future. Now, let's get to the three points!

Develop a System for Double-Checking Inventory Count Data

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While you might have full faith in your staff to properly execute inventory in a restaurant, your staff are also (most likely) human beings. So, no matter how good your employees are at their jobs, there is the potential for errors in their work. Even a small error when conducting an inventory count can disrupt the finances of your restaurant, whether as a result of ordering too little or too much of something. Poor inventory management can also throw off the timelines of your supply needs, such that you may think you have enough eggs to last another week when you have enough for a couple of days.

Though there are benefits to thorough training (and we'll get to those in just a minute), there is no better guarantee for inventory in a restaurant than having another member of your staff double check the work the first team member does. Doing so is intended as a way to ensure the previous employee did not accidentally type a 25 instead of a 15, or something similar. Given the setup of modern day keyboards, it is not unreasonable to suspect that someone accidentally pressed a different number than the one they intended, especially if the device they're using features a touch screen. If they're conducting an inventory count with pen and paper, rather than an electronic device, then the immediate benefit of double-checking could be as simple as making sure that they put the correct number next to the correct item.

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Inventory Management Training Goes a Long Way

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As we alluded to previously, one of the most effective ways to ensure employees carry out proper inventory in a restaurant is to train them on some of the best practices of inventory checks. These practices are readily available in some online formats, everything from infographics to full-on eBooks devoted to the subject. While some of these ideas may conflict, as is commonplace in any industry of this size, it is the basic principles you're looking for your staff to take home with them.

Some inventory management principles are simple. One is the count-recount method, wherein an employee does the initial check, and then checks again on their own to make sure they got the count correct the first time. If not, we recommend having them check a third time before another employee gets involved, strictly to save time and energy. Ultimately, though, it boils down to ensuring that your employees understand the goals of the process of proper inventory management in a restaurant, as well as its importance to the business success and, by extension, their job security.

Involve an Inventory Management Mobile App of Some Kind

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There is a range of software options serving to manage inventory in a restaurant, and some of them are better than others. You want to find is a program that will meet your staff's inventory management needs, as well as your administrative needs for analyzing and using the inventory information. It is also a good idea to assess your staff's interest in an inventory management mobile app and software program. To do so, you'll want to highlight the many benefits of an inventory management mobile app, but you must also address any drawbacks or other concerns if you want to have everybody on board with the idea.

Hopefully, you've gleaned a few useful tips or ideas from this article. As we said at the beginning, this article was meant to serve as a means of introducing the idea of improving your inventory management rather than provide a walkthrough of a method.

If you're interested in learning more about some technologies that can help give your business an advantage, especially those of the small to medium variety, we highly recommend our article on the subject titled The 15 Best Inventory Tracker Apps for Your Mobile Devices, which can also be found on the Hubworks Blog.

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