In the fast-paced world of restaurant management, staying ahead of the curve isn’t just a matter of culinary innovation but also efficient business operations. A critical part of that is managing your Master Items List – a comprehensive catalog that encompasses everything from ingredients to kitchen supplies.
Having a digitized, well-structured, consistent and centralized master items list allows restaurant managers to trust the presented data, easily aggregate it and rely on it to generate insights. In the absence of such a proper master items list, item information will be filled with errors, missing items, confusion, and duplications which will make data analysis very tedious, time-consuming, delayed and very prone to different and wrong interpretations.
In this article, we’ll dive into the importance and best practices for maintaining an organized master items list for efficient restaurant operations.
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A master items list is essentially the list of every ingredient, suppliers, dish, tool, ingredient package that you use. It contains all the elements that go in and out of your kitchen, and is used to identify specific items in order to create alignment within your company.
As a result, it helps restaurants avoid the following situations:
Therefore, having a structured Master Items List is key to enable your restaurant to operate efficiently and profitably.
Creating and maintaining a great Master items List is based on some strong principles:
This first principle is about avoiding having too many items in the master items listing. This can be achieved by thoroughly understanding how the items are being used by the end-user to understand which items are deemed as identical or substitutes in daily operations and hence can be centralized under a shared master item. Failing to do this, and hence creating multiple master items for substitutive items will lead to misleading inventory stocks.
This is because these recipes will in reality be depleting inventory from multiple master items for the same recipe ingredient, though on paper it is supposedly using only a single master item. On paper, this will lead to over-depletion of that single master item and lack of depletion of the other, duplicated master items which obviously will lead to misleading inventory levels and cost analyses.
Example: imagine your restaurant uses Milk as a non-key ingredient for a recipe but you purchase different milk brands/types, even with different fat levels, because you simply take whatever is available/cheapest from the supplier. Hence, you may be purchasing “Milk Almarai low-fat 1.5L Pack” as well as “Milk Al Rawabi full-fat 1.5L Pack” but the end user (e.g. the chef) does not care about using one or the other for his recipes. In such a scenario, you must create one master item named “Milk” so that your recipes can be built with this single milk item.
On the contrary of principle #1, it is important to not accidentally centralize distinct items under the same master item, in case they are being used distinctly by the end-user because that will also lead to misleading inventory stocks. It will lead to backlash from the kitchen staff, who will complain that a required item is no longer in stock even though on paper, the master item has available stock. It will also lead to situations where the item seemingly doesn’t exist in the master item list, leading to duplicate master items being created. This once again will lead to misleading inventory levels and cost analyses.
Example: you may think to create one master item “Hot Sauce” under which you want to put “Sriracha” and “Tabasco” but it would likely be a mistake to do so because they are usually used quite differently in recipes. Hence, in the above example you should create two distinct master items, emphasizing the difference by using the brand name as part of the master item name, instead of just having two times “Hot Sauce”. Hence, you should end up with “Sriracha Hot Sauce” and “Tabasco Hot Sauce” and ensure that your recipes are built with the correct hot sauce.
3) Consistent naming & categorization
Having a clearly named and categorized master items list is all about making it easier for the audience of this list to search and retrieve the required master items or to discover the absence of the required master item. This paves the way to the correct creation of new master items while avoiding duplication or putting distinctly used items under the same master item.
A few good practices to keep in mind:
All the best intentions go to waste if there are no clear processes and routines in place to maintain the integrity, accuracy and availability of your master item data; a few suggestions that work well:
Having a solid master items list should be used in combination with a good restaurant inventory management software. Bringing digitization and automation will help you aggregate clean data in clicks, and redistribute it to decision-makers within your organization, fast.
Example: You need to visualize the performance of a bottle of Heinz Ketchup. If your master items list wasn’t clean, you would need a middleman to clean the data, match the way each branch names a single bottle of Heinz Ketchup, and then deliver the results a week later.
By maintaining a clean master item list and embedding it into a modern restaurant inventory management software, your data could be aggregated in a click, since your list is digitized, and your items standardized.
Supy is a data-driven restaurant inventory management software built to help multi-chain restaurants cut costs. Our recipe management software, inventory management software, menu engineering software, and the rest of our suite of products are built to enable the free flow of data throughout your back of house operations. This enables decision-makers to make informed decisions any time, from anywhere.