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How to Create an Inventory Management System in Excel - Part 1

how to create an inventory management system in excel
Daphne Blake

By Daphne Blake

Learn this powerful tool for restaurant inventory management

Finding the right inventory management system can be difficult if you don't know what to look for. Let us help you create one in Excel and provide tips to improve your profits.

What you need to know about an efficient inventory management system

Understanding what makes an inventory system efficient is the best way to help you find one that will not only work for your restaurant but improve your profits in the process. A good inventory management system is one of the best and easiest ways to cut costs without sacrificing quality, safety, or your reputation—and learning to create one yourself in Excel is an affordable option that further improves your bottom line.

When we talk about tracking inventory, it's important to note that it goes beyond simple counting of your supplies and monitoring what's in your pantry. Yes, you need to know how much of every ingredient you have so you can be ready to place orders and prevent spoilage, but if your inventory system is slow, cumbersome, difficult to learn, and stressful to use, anything you save on inventory itself will be wasted on manpower and paying for mistakes. For inventory management, efficiency is key.

Why use spreadsheets for inventory?

how to create inventory management system in excel 1

Paper and pencils have their uses, but if you're hoping to improve efficiency and increase your restaurant's profits, it's time to ditch the dinosaurs. Look at it this way- Can your old paper logbooks do math problems or alert you when there's a mistake in your inventory list? We didn't think so.

Spreadsheets aren't just listed in a document; coupled with the right apps, they are powerful tools that can automatically solve complicated math equations in the blink of an eye, group items in any number of ways, filter search results in seconds, and even give warnings when things don't quite add up. They are faster than humans in all these areas, which means the money you save in employee time alone is worth every second it takes to create an inventory management system in Excel.

That said, Excel can take a little time to learn and a long time to master, but there are many tutorials on the internet that can help you get it set up. You don't have to know everything about the program for it to be useful, so just stick with the basics. Our article isn't going to go into the technical aspects of Excel and how it works. This article is focused on what matters to restaurant managers- getting your inventory system right, so your profits improve.

Your inventory system in Excel

You can use your Excel spreadsheet to handle budgets, time tracking and wages, and make useful charts and graphs tracking your restaurant's trends. But it all starts with your inventory control. Below, we've covered the most important aspects you'll want to include in your inventory spreadsheets specifically, but don't be afraid to add to the list and cover all your bases.

1. Track those consumables -

From recipe ingredients to side dish components, to deserts, and even the sugar packets on each table, you'll want to know how much of every consumable product you currently have in your store. A good inventory management system in Excel will also help you track trends in what your customers like to eat, making your budgeting easier and more accurate. Knowing what people order most, and seeing what items they ignore, helps your bottom line by reducing waste and helping you focus on the most popular items.

2. Cleaning and other supplies -

Running out of cleaning supplies could spell disaster for your business. Don't forget to track every item your employees use to clean and sanitize both the kitchen and the front areas. This is also an excellent place to list paper products—like paper towels for the handwashing stations, paper napkins, and toilet paper for employees and customers.

3. Furniture and fixtures -

You may not have thought of it right up front, but what happens if your furniture gets worn or broken, or if a light fixture is damaged by a customer? If you haven't been tracking what you have in your store or how much you spent on it, you won't be able to create an accurate budget for emergency repairs or replacements. Not having enough funds set aside for emergencies can cost a lot more than money in the long run.

Putting it all together

Learning how to create an inventory management system in Excel is as simple as making sure you follow the guide above. With those basics in mind, you can easily add or subtract as needed, and make your inventory management system match your unique needs. There's another way to make use of your new spreadsheets, though.

Adding a mobile inventory app to help get the most out of your Excel spreadsheets is a good investment of time and effort – especially when you find an app or group of apps that come with a free trial and very affordable rates. There are powerful apps designed to boost efficiency and can read the CSV files you created in Excel, meaning you won’t need to spend more time inputting all your inventory by hand when it’s time to add it to the apps. If you’d like to learn more about how to create an inventory management system in Excel, check out our top tips here.

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