The question of how to do inventory is paramount to every brunch café, restaurant, and bar business. It’s a vital step in keeping a customer service-based business running smoothly. Inventory encompasses every part of your business, from purchasing supplies to selling foods and drinks to keeping an eye on your budget. It’s a process that requires close attention from the beginning to the end result.
Today, we’ll take a look at the steps you can take to improve your inventory management process. On the BinWise blog–and over on the BlueCart blog–we’ve covered a lot of inventory questions. You could even call it our bread and butter.
In this article, we’ll cover new angles of inventory in restaurants. We'll give a fresh perspective and give you even more ideas on how to make your inventory work for you.
How to Do Inventory In a Restaurant: 10 Steps
How to do inventory in a restaurant is all about counting your recipe ingredients and supplies for every aspect of a meal. Restaurant inventory does encompass bar inventory practices, but the two have many notable differences. Restaurant inventory management is a structured system to organize everything from tomatoes to cuts of meat to napkins and place mats.
These 10 aspects of restaurant inventory will up your game and make the process far more enjoyable and manageable. We’ve talked about the process of how to take inventory on BinWise before, and there are crucial steps involved in inventory. Today we’ll be looking at the creative approach, to give you a wider view of how you can approach inventory management.
10. Inventory, Meet Aesthetics
Just because how to do inventory is about counts and tracking, that doesn’t mean it can’t fit your restaurant aesthetic. Making your inventory practice an extension of your restaurant theme and design will make it a seamless part of your business. Even if it’s as simple as matching your inventory labels to the font on your menu, consistency is key.
9. Inventory Habit Trackers
Keeping inventory going given all of its daily and monthly tasks is a drag. For you and your employees, you’ll most likely reach a point where you don’t want to do a count on a certain day. You may even decide to wing it a bit.
There’s no judgment; sometimes a long day really takes it out of you. Having a system to track your inventory daily keeps feelings of laziness in check.
8. Unique Storage Systems
A large part of your inventory approach is your storage locations. You may have a warehouse inventory location, but you’ll also have a space in your restaurant for daily storage needs. Make this space unique for your inventory process, and for your business, so that it’s a place you can be productive in.
7. Back Up Your Staff
As a business owner, one of your responsibilities is looking after your employees. The people working for you need to know that you value and respect them. This extends to the inventory process. If an employee is looking for an answer about a count or needed item, be patient and find the answer with them. Whatever the situation is, have their back.
6. Stylize Your Standardization
There are many characteristics of inventory management techniques that are the same across the board for any restaurant. To make it unique to your restaurant, find a rhythm and style that fits you and your employees. This goes hand in hand with fitting your inventory areas and storage rooms to your restaurant aesthetic. The difference is that this rhythm is all about the style of the work for your team.
5. Build Celebration Into Inventory
Inventory is a lot of work; there’s no getting around it. The work leads to gains in all areas of your restaurant business when done well. From time saved, to money well spent, to better customer service, to an all-around better work environment. Take the time to celebrate those perks of a great inventory system, and the overall process will be much more enjoyable.
4. Build Your Year
There are so many benefits to having an organized inventory system. One benefit is the ability to plan ahead because you know the general structure you’ll be working with. This foresight means you can plan your year–or next six months–with inventory built in. You can also plan for great year-end reports since you’ll have a good idea of where your business will be.
3. Inventory-Clearing Specials
As much as you can map out your inventory, sometimes the counts can still be a little unmanageable. If you find yourself with a surplus of inventory, a great way to sell through it is by creating inventory-clearing specials. You can make up seasonal dishes for a special deal, or make a mix of appetizers to utilize your stock. You could even do drink specials to sell through garnish supplies.
2. One Count at a Time
Inventory can seem overwhelming as a whole process. To make it easier and therefore more enjoyable, break it down into sections. Take your entire inventory count one step at a time. You’ll be able to give each step the attention it deserves. You'll also be more likely to achieve accurate inventory when you take the time.
1. Efficiency Through Innovation
This number one creative step towards how to do inventory management is being open to innovation. This innovation can come from you, your employees, or even customer feedback. Including your employees in the innovation process will strengthen their involvement in the inventory process. It also fits into number seven, as it supports your employees as partners within the business.
How to Do an Inventory Sheet
Although a lot of inventory has moved beyond inventory spreadsheet options and clipboards, an inventory sheet or line sheet can still be useful. Heck, you can even use a sheet-style inventory tool without relying on Excel or graph paper.
If you want to set up an Excel or Google Sheets inventory sheet, there are templates available. If, however, you’re looking for something more high-tech, there are options. Many inventory management app options and inventory management platforms have integrated sheet features. That means you can lean on those familiar counting tools with the support of technology.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Do Inventory
Questions will crop up throughout the inventory process. Our answers to these frequently asked questions will give you a starting block, and information to lean on when inventory gets overwhelming. Even with the best support, inventory management is still a big task. These answers will be there to help you feel grounded with the process.
What Is the Best Way to Do Inventory?
The best way to do inventory is whatever way makes the most sense for you and your business. That could mean an Excel spreadsheet, a piece of paper, or the best inventory management app. It’ll depend on the size of your business, your inventory needs, and your personal preferences. It could also depend on your employees and the inventory practices they work well with.
How Do You Start Inventory?
Inventory starts when you make your first business shopping list–so to speak–and keep track of the budget. Basically, you start inventory by counting and tracking your inventory from the very beginning, and always keeping that count. It’s a tally with price values and factors for every item you have coming in and going out. Starting inventory means starting at the beginning of that count.
What Are the Basics of Inventory?
The basics of inventory are:
- An organization system for your warehouse organization or storeroom.
- A singular location to keep your counts and inventory notes.
- A budget system that works alongside and with your inventory.
Beyond those basics, everything about inventory is about the specific practice for your business. You’ll find more technical advice within each of those three factors, but these are what you need to start with.
How to Do Inventory: Not a Duke or Baron, a Count!
When you’re diving into how to do inventory, you’ll have a lot of information to work with, and a lot of work to do. From the beginning inventory count to a perpetual inventory system, it’s a never-ending process. However, don’t let that take away from the reason behind your inventory.
A good practice of how to do inventory will make your business run smoothly seven days a week–even if you’re only open five. Instilling these values into your team now will pay dividends in time and money saved in the long run. Come on back to the BinWise blog whenever you’re looking to learn more.
BinWise is an end-to-end beverage inventory software solution for bars and restaurants. Save 85% or more of your inventory counting time, eliminate manual data entry, and track variance effortlessly. Book a demo now to see how our platform can improve your bottom line today. Note that product demos are a walkthrough of our software, not a source of business advice.