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Liquor Inventory Control: Tips to Improve Liquor Variance

October 17, 2019
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BinWise Staff

In order to run a profitable bar, managing your bar inventory properly and keeping your liquor inventory control in check is paramount. Not keeping track of what you have in stock and what you sold can severely hinder your ability to make smart purchasing decisions. For bars, alcohol inventory control can be a lot more complicated because liquor is mostly sold by the shot or in the form of cocktails, rather than by the glass or bottle like wine. It’s even trickier when you account for spillage, over-pouring, comps, and theft (or if you don't have a bar point of sale system in place).

So without further ado, here are some ...

Tips to Improve Your Liquor Inventory Control and Grow Your Profits:

Have Standardized Recipes for Every Drink

Not only is it important for your guests to be served consistent drinks, but having standardized recipes for every drink also prevents your bartenders from over-pouring or giving out unsanctioned comps. A standardized drink recipe consists of the following:

  • The exact quantity of each ingredient
  • The glass size used to make the drink
  • The procedure for preparing the drink
  • Any special garnishes or condiments to be used

Recipes should be written up, printed out, and revised at least every six months.

Take Inventory Regularly

On average, a bar loses around 20% of its monthly sales due to spilled drinks, overstocking, theft, and other inefficiencies. However, more than 40% of bar owners only do inventory once a month because it is such a tedious and time-consuming task. A good inventory period is inventory done at least once a week. Start by making sure that every drink is prepared according to the recipe and accounted for in your POS system, including free drinks. Frequent inventory can help you identify problems before they become disastrous to your business.

Train Your Staff Properly

The best way to improve your liquor controls and beverage inventory is by properly training your staff. Here are some helpful tips to start:

  • Make sure every staff member has their own copy of your employee handbook, so you can easily refer to it for professionalism in the workplace, consequences for violation, handling conflicts at work, and other policies and procedures.
  • Ensure that your staff is familiar with the standardized recipes. Print them out and have them available at the bar area for your staff’s convenience.
  • Walk your staff through the bar’s layout and organization.
  • Regularly test your staff’s understanding of health and safety best practices.
  • Offer free in-house trainings and workshops, or suggest outside courses for professional certificates, to improve your staff’s skills.

And to tighten up liquor controls, bar owners have a wealth of liquor control tools and methods at their disposal.

Tools to Improve Your Liquor Inventory Control

Liquor Inventory Spreadsheet

Here's a useful alcohol inventory tool secret. Many bar owners simply use a free liquor inventory spreadsheet to take their inventory count. They fill our their starting inventory, received inventory, and ending inventory manually because they don’t have an inventory management software in place. Keep in mind that while using an inventory spreadsheet may sound good (because it’s free), it can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. It can also result in miscounting and end up costing you in other ways.

Liquor Bottle Ruler or a Liquor Dispenser

A liquor bottle ruler is another traditional tool that many bar owners use to get a hold of their liquor controls. While this is another inexpensive and convenient method to measure the liquor level of a bottle, it can be inaccurate and inconsistent due to different liquor bottle sizes and shapes, which makes determining the exact volume incredibly difficult. Some bar owners choose to use a liquor dispenser instead to avoid eye-measuring and manual pouring. Nowadays, many dispensers connect with a dial or an electronic scaling system for more accurate measurements. In theory, this seems like one of the best options, but in practice, it has shown some deficiencies since bartenders can still make mistakes or intentionally manipulate the dispenser.Also, internet-connected pour spouts tend to malfunction when you lose internet connection and will either allow a bartender to free pour without counting, or stop pouring entirely. There are of course different draft beer inventory system measurement solutions that help make beer keg tracking easier.

Use a Purpose-Built Beverage Liquor Management Software

Managing alcohol inventory control manually is tedious, complicated, and time-consuming—whether you're a small business or a big player with multiple locations. It also can't guarantee an error-free result. Entering numbers for a thousand bottles into multiple spreadsheets takes away the time that you could have spent on other important tasks. Therefore, we recommend automating the process to track inventory with a bar inventory system like BinWise Pro.

Book a demo and learn more about how a liquor inventory system can help you save time, eliminate errors, master your liquor controls, decrease your pour cost, and grow your profit margin.