Restaurant Inventory & Managing your Investments

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If your walk-in, liquor storage and beer coolers were bank vaults they would have round wheels and Fort Knox-like security.  The point here is that you normally keep your cash in the bank; in restaurants however, you keep your cash in the form of inventory.  The products you purchase need to be treated like an investment.  Imagine how much greater your ROI would be by counting 52 times per year as opposed to a meager 12.  Here are a few tips on restaurant inventory to keep a watchful eye on your investment so you can manage your cost of goods and recoup the most bang for your buck.

Just like stocks, the value of your inventory fluctuates. Since items such as Produce, Dairy, Meat, and Seafood are all commodities, you’re well aware their prices can change in the blink of an eye.  Thus, it’s essential that your product prices are updated before you take inventory.  If your prices have changed but you’re still calculating your inventory based on outdated pricing, then your accuracy is blown to bits; you’ll end up with meaningless numbers and have no chance of knowing whether you’re paying too much for the same products and using up too much cash relative to your sales; a reliable inventory system which automatically updates pricing from your last purchase solves this before it becomes an issue.  Without one, it’s basically like you’re trying to read last month’s newspaper to get today’s news.

In the farm to table world we’re living in, freshness and quality are living in the spotlight so it’s essential to keep in mind that the average shelf life of a purchased product is 4 days – yes, your organically grown jicama from the eastern region of the coldest and purest spot on Earth has a humble 4 day shelf life.  Well guess what folks, there’s a direct correlation between inventory frequency and better management of product rotation.  Are you continuously reinventing product and weaving it throughout your menu? How exactly are you using that oh-so-special jicama… is it simply in your watercress summer salad? Are you also utilizing it in your side slaw and additionally in your corn salsa atop your famous fish tacos?  If you’re currently ordering product that’s sitting on your shelves month over month because you solely use it on one place in the menu, you’re missing out on opportunities to turn product into profit.

Lastly, regular counting can assist your Chefs in viewing exactly what’s on the shelves to create daily specials and move product, turning it into money in your bank. This philosophy extends far beyond food specials and trickles into your bar program as well.  In both areas, taking your restaurant’s inventory on a weekly basis can exploit precisely what your team should merchandise. These specials give your menu diversity, which translates to higher margin sales, and in turn provides the chance of more tips for your team!

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