Mann in der Gastronomie, Inventur Titelbild

4 valuable tips for a successful inventory

Stockpiles, counting packages, making calculations, and spending hours or even days. Inventory is not as easy as it sounds. And be honest, there are more beautiful tasks than this actually monotonous work. But how else should we keep track of our goods, avoid food waste and be informed about losses and theft?

With these tips, you will learn how to handle the inventory optimally, intelligently and to bring your team on board efficiently.

Let’s be honest: Merchandise is not the reason why you went to the catering industry or hotel industry. But do you allow the inventory to be more tedious than it should be? Perhaps you are familiar with this: You begin with a lively and hopeful tone to your employees “Who would like to do the inventory of the restaurant voluntarily?” And it is not surprising that your request is answered with a depressing silence and crooked faces.

Typically, restaurants use between 25-35% of their operating budget for food shopping.

Proper inventory management, with an eye on curbing food waste, can save a significant portion of your regular costs. But no matter how much money it saves, no one really likes to make inventory.

– It is boring.

– It’s time-consuming.

– Who sees the value at the end?

But it has to be done. Inventory is a success factor in order to increase competitiveness and quality, which saves a lot of money through the ongoing processing. We have some tips to help you perform the inventory. If you stick to those, you can do the job more succinctly and more efficiently.

1. Ask for help when doing the inventory

If you are spending time counting bread loafs, glasses with cattle fountains and bay leaves, you are following a basic function that directly affects the financial success of the restaurant. Whether you like it or not, it is essential that you regularly check your inventory.

Make inventory management a part of your regular business activities. And do not do it alone, get your team into the boat! In most restaurants, the usual attitude is that the people do not see the value of the restaurant inventory. So first try to bring your team closer to the value of the inventory by showing them exactly why it is necessary. It is also essential that you tell your employees how inventory management affects not only the company as a whole but also each of them. Teach your team what you can do with a strong and reliable inventory process at regular intervals.

Order resource-conserving and well planned

If you order too much, this will end up in food waste. As a result, your net profit will be reduced. Less profit means that employees run the risk of being cut – or even terminated in the worst case.

Identify problem areas

Along with reducing waste, inventory can help find out when and where a waste occurs. This allows you to get a comprehensive understanding of what works and what does not work in your business; And gives you the opportunity to take self-confident steps towards increasing efficiency.

Prevent undersupply

Conversely, if you have ordered too little, the products will sooner or later go out. This reduces customer trust and ends in a customer decline. Fewer customers mean less profit, which means – you suspect – employees are cut. Theft and fading Theft is a regrettable reality in many restaurants. With the lack of goods management and the comparison of inventory and sales and reported losses, it can be extremely difficult – if not impossible – to identify thieves and fading. TIP: Connect your POS system to your merchandise management system – then it will happen automatically.

Profitability in the company

How does your restaurant work? To answer this question with more than one good feeling, you need some numbers. An accurate inventory number compared to the sales numbers should be high on your to-do list to ensure that you have a good understanding of the health of your business.
Remind your employees regularly that the inventory process is the key to a healthy and economically viable restaurant; And it is ultimately what keeps people in their jobs.

Once you have made the most of the practical benefits clear, give the staff special inventory tasks, train them in the unified success methods, and set up regular times of inventory.

When you do this, you will notice that the entire restaurant inventory management is important for you – which increases the likelihood that it will be equally important for your employees. At this point you might think: “Perfect! So as long as I move my employees to do these things, I am prepared to save a lot of money.” Not quite. Viewing your employees is only the first step. Once you have achieved this, you are ready to do the next steps:

2. Make a schedule

It is easy to ignore the time for inventory, because something else is much more important. But be consistent. The times should definitely be respected, as well as the cleaning of the work surfaces after cooking. Therefore, enter the inventory times as a fixed component in the calendar of your workforce. Tip: We can recommend our partner E2N for the daily challenges of personnel management, working time recording and service planning.
Tipp: Choose a responsible employee to do the inventory on a consistent basis.

This person puts together a team and makes a plan, when which person does which task. Reduce the likelihood that the inventory will be half-bodied or sloppy.
Assigning importance to the task this way, also helps in communication, so that an accurate inventory is a critical component for the success of the restaurant.

Talk to your staff about the inventory.

If your employees are to be interested in inventory management, do not just make it a compulsory thing, make it into something in which they see added value. Share with them the results from the analyzes of the inventory and the sales figures. For example, a Renner-Penner statistic.

This way, you can prove to your employees that the, at first glance pointless task, has an advantage and increase their intrinsic motivation to do it carefully. Stay involved in the inventory process: Merchandise management should not be put into the hands of less qualified employees without care and then ignored by the management.
As a manager you should not hide in the office.
You should not simply delegate the task and then forget it. Play an active role by constantly monitoring the process and asking regularly, so you will be taken seriously.

Combine the inventory with other routine work.

The inventory can be combined with other tasks, which are regularly done by your employees. For example, who is responsible for keeping the “First In, First Out (FIFO)” circulation? Could he also do the inventory? This allows you to efficiently assemble multiple tasks. The inventory could also be integrated in the course of the HACCP test and cleaning lists. Tip: A reliable partner for digitized HACCP to process these processes is

3. Eliminate unclear spreadsheets

One of the main reasons why you (and all other persons involved) do not like to manage the merchandises of the restaurant, is that the inventory is historically a stressful and manual process. Also, executives whose main job it is to manage the inventory of the restaurant are not too enthusiastic about the task. In addition, it is tiring to motivate employees who are not interested in counting different articles all day.

You can reduce this burden by using a software solution for inventory management. Unfortunately, however, these are often expensive and are therefore not often purchased and implemented.
TIP: There are now start-ups that offer solutions for “smart” restaurateurs that are not expensive and easy to use.

This is one of the reasons why nearly half of the small businesses have either failed to capture their entire inventory or, if they have captured it, applied manual methods. It would be your key to success!

Use the digitalisation!

Previously, the inventory of restaurants was made completely manually, which produced huge stack of paper. No wonder no one took the time to look through them seriously, let alone analyze them. The spread of PCs and the possibility of using spreadsheet programs, e.g. Excel have greatly improved this process. But in the age of digitization, the use of spreadsheets has become superfluous and old-fashioned with regard to merchandise management. Data can now be directly networked with your dealers and integrated into your workflow. In a spreadsheet, you must manually add the numbers row by row. This does not only cost a lot of time, but is also error-prone. All it takes is a jamming button or a tired employee and suddenly instead of 10 salad heads there are 100.

You can, of course, use spreadsheets to identify price fluctuations and patterns in the use of your articles and try to order them in advance. Nevertheless, this is and remains a very tedious process, which means hours or days of manual tabulation and allows the possibility of arithmetic errors.

In the 21st century you should definitely use new technologies for your inventory process or at least try them out. A spreadsheet is a start, but there are much more efficient tools. By equipping your restaurant with affordable and reliable inventory software, you can get reliable figures, reports, and reviews at your fingertips to help identify potential savings.

A good and efficient goods management system simplifies everyday life in the restaurant considerably. The data is displayed in short reports or on a dashboard, which can be called up at any time. This is how you always have an overview.

4. Don’t ignore the numbers, learn from them!

What do you do with the figures after your employees have finished the inventory? If your answer is “not much”, it’s time for a change! Many restaurant owners and operators fail to do something with their inventory numbers, which goes beyond more or less orders of individual articles. The reason is understandable: away from software or services that support the analysis, the processing of the data is too complicated.

Doing the inventory but not doing anything with it, is probably worse than not doing it. Not only do you waste many hours of work with the process, but also show your employees that this task is meaningless by not using the information received.

In other words, doing the inventory and managing the goods management are two completely different things.

Instead of just hanging the inventory list on the wall, analyze your numbers critically and use them! Explain your employees what has been improved – such as, for example, that the food waste has been significantly reduced. If your employees see you using these figures for something meaningful, they will recognize their importance – consciously or unconsciously – for the inventory management process of the restaurant and perform the work conscientiously.

Our conclusion

Goods management is essential in the successful catering industry. On the market there are a lot of systems for small, medium or large companies. But all these systems have a major drawback – the article and master data maintenance is very complex and requires many temporal resources which most restaurateurs, hoteliers, cooks and buyers do not have.

Tip: Learn how FoodNotify reduces the effort to a minimum.