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Inventory in a Restaurant | 3 Tips for Best Practices

inventory in a restaurant 3 tips for best practices
Daphne Blake

By Daphne Blake

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Ever wonder if you’re conducting your inventory in the most efficient or effective way? Let these three tips from us help guide you towards a better, more useful method of inventory management.

One of the big struggles that plague many a restaurant owner is ensuring that all of the various, seemingly endless tasks that they and their employees are responsible for completing on a daily basis, are properly tended to. Some of these tasks are simple. The easiest tasks can include things like locking the doors at the end of the night or ensuring that the restrooms are appropriately stocked. Other tasks can be more difficult. Whether it be managing schedules or inputting information for payroll. One thing that all of these tasks have in common though is the fact that all have very specific processes that must be followed to guarantee that 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 certainly wear down on whoever has been assigned to complete it. This repetition, especially, can be, quite frankly, boring to just about anyone, and we know that excessive boredom can potentially lead to more errors in the process. Inventory in a restaurant is a simultaneously complex and divisively dull task, but its importance is valued just as highly as any other routine task.

This article will present to you three key methods to ensure that your employees (or yourself) are conducting inventory in a restaurant 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 essentially guiding principles that will help you better understand the process, and be better equipped to handle its execution in the future. Without further ado, let’s get the three points!

Develop a System for Double-Checking -

This is one that I can’t stress enough- while you might have full and total faith in your staff to properly execute inventory in a restaurant checks, the basic fact is that your staff are also (most likely) human beings. This means that, no matter how good they are at their jobs, there is still the potential for errors to creep into their work. Even a slight error when conducting an inventory check has the potential to disrupt the financial flow of your restaurant, whether that be a result of ordering too little of something, or far too much. It can also throw off how urgent certain supply needs are, such that you may think you have enough eggs to last another week when you only have enough for a couple of days. While there are certainly 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 that the first team member does. It isn’t intended as any doubtful, “I bet they didn’t do it right” kind of thing. Rather, it is intended as a way to ensure that 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 wholly 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 this check 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.

Training Goes a Long Way -

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 of these principles are very simple. The one that immediately springs to mind 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 manpower. Some principles and methods are more complex, or at least more complex than they need to be. Ultimately, though, it boils down to ensuring that your employees understand the goals of the process of running inventory in a restaurant, as well as its importance to the business success and, by extension, their job security.

Involve an Inventory Software of Some Kind -

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This is our third and final point, and one that we think really could be an article all its own (and probably will be at some point). There is a range of software options out there that serve the purpose of managing inventory in a restaurant, some of them better than others. What you want to find is a program that will directly meet your staff’s needs for the process itself, as well as your administrative needs for analyzing and making use of the information that the inventory checking process obtains. It might be a good idea as well to assess directly your staff’s interest in such a system. You’ll want to highlight the many benefits of the inventory in a restaurant system, but you must also address any drawbacks or other concerns if you want to truly have everybody on board with the idea.

Hopefully, you’ve managed to glean a few useful tips or ideas from this article. Like we said at the beginning, this was meant to serve more as a means to introduce the idea of improving your inventory in a restaurant counting skills than a specific walkthrough of a particular method.

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