Running a successful restaurant involves nailing down managing your inventory. But managing your restaurant inventory can be overwhelming, and it isn’t the easiest of tasks.
Our Free Restaurant Inventory Management Template, available on Excel & Google Sheets, is a great place to start measuring and monitoring your stock.
This article also covers best practices to employ to make managing your restaurant inventory something of a second nature to you and your restaurant staff.
Our free template is a direct representation of the best practices we’ve embedded in our restaurant inventory management software. Of course, the beauty of software is that many of the tasks we’ll describe below are automated for you! However, starting with a simple sheet is more than enough to get started.
Using this template, you’ll be able to list your items, specify their quantity, price, and suppliers, and set and observe par levels (or the optimal stock quantity you need of each ingredient to operate smoothly).
You’ll also be able to specify the different packages in which each item comes in, as well as the category of each item, the base unit of measurement of the item, and its cost. You’ll be able to see the quantity in stock, stock value, and need-to-purchase quantity too.
Our restaurant inventory management template also provides you with all the formulas required to count your stock quickly and accurately. In order words, Supy does the unit conversions for you. You can also use our sheet to count stock as a team by assigning different categories of items to different team members. Supy will then take care of combining the items counted for you. You can further remove friction by opening this sheet on a mobile device to avoid pen & paper counting, which often leads to human error.
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Keeping your restaurant inventory up to date, reliable, and accurate is no easy task : it requires discipline, rigorous processes, dedicated staff, and, ideally, appropriate, friction-free tools (i.e. software).
Below are numerous best-practices you can use complementarily to our free restaurant inventory template to put you on the right track :
Nothing goes in or out of your restaurant inventory if you’re not recording it ! Yes, accuracy starts with recording your invoices, wastage, and depletion accurately every time you receive items, waste ingredients, or sell items.
Numerous restaurants still struggle in keeping up, especially due to the friction that exists in registering stock events manually and/or on paper, which makes following up on pretty much all stock events a time-consuming, tiring task. In cases where a restaurant inventory management system has already been installed, a lack of rigor in recording stock events may come from the unfriendliness of the user experience of the system. A difficult user experience leads teams to delay recording the invoice (best case), or not record them at all (worst case).
Consider also the usage of mobile-friendly solutions. Recording events as they happen is made even more possible when you have a mobile device. Needing to delay recording the event because you need to be in front of a computer adds to the lack of rigor and the increase in human errors.
Counting stock on paper is a cumbersome and error-prone process that businesses should avoid at all costs. The manual nature of paper-based stock counting leads to inefficiency and delays. The need to physically record and tally each item is time-consuming, hindering productivity and wasting valuable resources. Additionally, paper-based stock counting lacks real-time visibility and tracking, making it difficult to identify discrepancies or monitor stock levels accurately. This is why you should prioritize digital solutions (including Excel and Google Spreadsheets) over physical paper.
In today’s technologically advanced world (and cut-throat competition leaving no chance for errors), embracing digital inventory management systems offers superior accuracy, speed, and efficiency, streamlining operations and enabling businesses to make data-driven decisions.
Building your inventory’s base (your items, recipes, suppliers…) accurately boosts your chances of maintaining its accuracy.
Configure your items by setting up their units of measurement, their storage location, and both par and minimum level per inventory (kitchen, bar, equipment…). Specify the different packages they come in and which supplier supplies them, as well as the cost of each item per supplier and package. This enables you to count faster and more accurately.
Configure your recipes by clearly specifying the ingredients in easy-to-understand units of measurements. This ensures that your recipes are replicable accurately, and that your inventory is depleted to the dot whenever a sale or wastage occurs.
Establishing par and minimum levels in your restaurant inventory is vital to keep your restaurant running smoothly. Par levels help you strike the right balance between having enough stock to meet customer demand without excessive overstocking. On the other hand, minimum levels act as a safety net, ensuring you never run out of critical ingredients or supplies. These levels indicate the minimum quantity of an item that should be maintained in your inventory at all times.
Strategically setting par and minimum levels enables you to optimize inventory management, reduce waste, and control costs. You can avoid tying up excessive capital in excess inventory while minimizing the risk of stock-outs that can impact customer satisfaction.
Organizing your inventory into categories such as food, beverages, perishables, and supplies offers numerous advantages. Firstly, it simplifies the tracking of items, allowing you to quickly locate specific products and maintain accurate stock records. By categorizing items based on their nature, you can easily identify fast-moving products, anticipate demand, and ensure that popular items are always well-stocked. Similarly, categorization helps identify slow-moving products, enabling you to take appropriate actions like offering promotions or adjusting purchasing quantities. Additionally, organizing inventory into categories enhances your ability to plan for restocking, ensuring that essential items are replenished in a timely manner while minimizing the risk of overstocking. This systematic approach streamlines operations, optimizes inventory management, and ultimately leads to improved efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Separating your inventories within a single location, such as a bar inventory and a kitchen inventory, is important for effective inventory management. Here’s why it matters :
Cost tracking: By creating separate inventories (or cost centers), you can track expenses accurately for specific areas of your restaurant. Whether it’s the kitchen, bar, dining area, or other departments, having distinct cost centers allows you to monitor and analyze the costs and profitability associated with each one. This insight enables you to make informed decisions and identify areas for improvement.
Inventory and variance control: Maintaining separate inventories for each area enables better control and tracking of stock levels. You can assign designated staff members to oversee each inventory, ensuring proper management, timely restocking, and reducing the risk of shortages. This level of control helps prevent both overstocking and understocking, resulting in smoother operations and enhanced customer service.
Feel free to make copies of our free template and assign a copy to each of your inventories.
The number one reason for wastage is over-ordering, which often happens due to a lack of user control, and a buying decision process based on intuition rather than on data. Attribute clear user roles to everyone in your team. Provide rights such as “drafting an order” and “sending an order” early on, and decide who should be given the right to send the Purchase Order, varying from your sous chef, to your chef, or procurement manager or cost controller.
Variance is calculated by comparing your theoretical stock value to your actual stock value. If the actual value is higher, then you may have not recorded for items accurately, and should perhaps check if your employees are recording the invoices correctly. If the actual value is lower, then you have a serious discrepancy to look into, from theft to unrecorded wastage. And the best way to find out that there is a discrepancy and to take action is to count your stock as regularly as you possibly can.
Establish relationships with reliable suppliers to ensure timely and consistent deliveries. Regularly review and evaluate your suppliers for quality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. Furthermore, recording your invoices regularly and accurately ensures clean, accurate supplier performance data that enables you to see which supplier is best to do business with. Another reason to stay on top of your invoices ! Measure savings per suppliers, quantities bought per supplier, and negotiate better deals.
Regular reporting allows you to gain insights into your restaurant inventory performance and make data-driven decisions. By analyzing reports, you can identify trends, patterns, and areas that require improvement. Reports can provide valuable information on inventory turnover, stock levels, and sales trends. Allocating dedicated time for reporting ensures that you have a comprehensive understanding of your inventory status, enabling you to optimize ordering, reduce costs, and improve overall efficiency.
Allowing time for investigation is crucial when discrepancies or issues arise in your inventory. Whether it’s inventory shrinkage, stock variances, or unexpected changes in inventory levels, investigating the root causes is essential. By conducting thorough investigations, you can identify potential errors, inaccuracies, or even instances of theft. This enables you to take corrective actions, implement preventive measures, and maintain the integrity of your inventory management system.
Holding employees accountable ensures accuracy, compliance, and continuous improvement. By establishing clear expectations, monitoring performance, and providing feedback, you foster a sense of responsibility and ownership. Accountable employees are more likely to follow established procedures,
accurately record inventory data, and promptly report any issues. This accountability promotes reliable inventory information, minimizes errors, and enhances overall operational efficiency.
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