What’s the Best Way to Manage Your Restaurant Inventory?

What is inventory management? How do successful restaurants manage inventory? Does your restaurant have a sound strategy for this critical restaurant to-do?

You have questions about restaurant inventory management…and RASI has the answers! Our restaurant accounting software, including a powerful inventory management application, helps restaurants just like yours keep track of product levels, incoming supplies, analyze food costs, and identify discrepancies with vendors, food items, and more.

Inventory management enables restaurants to track existing product levels (food, supplies, etc.), and also know when to reorder. And it’s certainly one of the more “tricky” aspects of day-to-day restaurant management. Managing restaurant inventory is the ultimate balancing act; your business requires a base level of ingredients and supplies to account for regular operations, but not too much.

Without a proper inventory tracking system, your restaurant could quickly run out of crucial menu ingredients; conversely, you also don’t want too much inventory taking up valuable interior space. Inventory management helps companies know how much product to order and when to order it. 

Inventory management can be accomplished with spreadsheets and manual counting. But inventory management software helps ease the process and more accurately count and track your products. Additionally, it can show important financial and performance data and re-order products when it reaches certain levels.

Here are a few inventory examples, and how NOT accurately accounting for stock levels could negatively impact business:

Restaurant employee taking inventory with count sheet


Ingredients and menu items with a finite expiration date require accurate, timely, daily (sometimes, even hourly) tracking in order to fully optimize product levels. Every restaurant must properly account for perishables, whether it’s a food truck, catering service, or regular brick-and-mortar establishment. For perishables, how restaurants manage inventory is directly tied to having a good menu engineering system in place.

Available Storage Space

Food isn’t the only finite “ingredient” of your restaurant; space is also limited. Wasted space with too much (or even not enough) inventory brings down the operational efficiency of any eatery, and managing restaurant inventory the correct way allows you to properly utilize all available real estate.

Bulk Purchases

Another balancing act with managing restaurant inventory involves bulk purchases. At times, it may be advantageous to participate in a bulk purchase or manufacturer rebate program to save money. However, too many products purchased without regard to customer demand could take up valuable shelf space with minimal benefit to your operation. Throw in rampant inflation, and the equation is even more muddled. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a robust, automated inventory platform working in your favor.


How Do Restaurants Take & Manage Inventory?

How do restaurants manage inventory? It starts with a system for initial quality and cost assessment. While every restaurant has their own method of inventory management, 

Here are the top 4 things to look for in a restaurant inventory management system:

1) Does your restaurant inventory management system include count sheets? Key info includes quantity, price, cost, and fluctuations from previous inventory levels.

2) Does it have the ability to schematic your inventory sheet together? List all products and amounts. RASI’s recommended best practice is shelf-to-sheet count sheets.

3) Does it update the current price based off of the most recent purchases so your inventory reflects the most up-to-date pricing? 

4) Does it provide the ability to view and assign par-level inventory? “Par inventory” is the baseline quantity of every item that’s required for daily operations. This helps pinpoint the exact time you should order more inventory.

Benefits of Properly Managing Restaurant Inventory

Get your restaurant inventory management locked in, and your establishment will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Optimal food usage. From perishable items to sporadic menu demand, inventory management best practices ensure less food waste.
  • Managing supply chain impacts. Sound restaurant inventory management allows restaurants to lessen the impact of supply chain disruptions. Check out RASI’s article on this subject for more info.
  • Better vendor management. Timing is everything in the restaurant, particularly with vendor payments & purchases. Effective inventory strategies enable businesses to capitalize on the best possible outcomes with these crucial commerce partners.
  • Happier customers. Closely related to food utilization, this benefit stems directly from having on hand exactly what your restaurant needs – when you need it.
  • Maximum ROI. Managing restaurant inventory is all about reducing waste, which positively impacts your bottom line.


Let RASI Assist With Your Restaurant Inventory Management Needs

If your inventory strategy needs refinement, or you’re looking to establish a restaurant inventory management program that’ll contribute to the best possible ROI, RASI can help today. Schedule a demo to see our agile, intuitive inventory platform at work. Or, call our experts today at (720) 826-9900. We look forward to hearing from you soon!