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Fine-tuning your food and beverage operations through inventory control

2019-01-31

You could say that the restaurant industry isn't for the faint of heart. Challenges like increasing labour and food costs are faced by so many F&B business owners. Inventory management can play a large role in efficiently tackling such challenges and yet, this aspect of running an F&B business may often be overlooked. Food inventory management, at its most basic, can be described as the system you use to track stock coming into your restaurant, inventory that leaves your restaurant and whatever is left over at the end of the day.

A good food inventory management system, on the other hand, should be able to provide you with insight into the many ways you could be making more money as well as ways in which you might be losing money. Ultimately, tactful inventory control can pave the way to a more seamless and well-run organisation. Here are a few tips that can help.

Don’t underestimate inventory management tools

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We live in an incredibly digitized world with innovative options and solutions for virtually every operational or general business dilemma out there. Tap into that power and find tools that can deliver on reliability and consistency. Employees who are busy serving customers may find it time-consuming and difficult to handle tasks related to inventory management so tools designed specifically for this can be very useful. 

Managers should have access to tools that increase efficiency, accuracy and accountability when dealing with inventory, particularly with regards to being able to count and track stock. Precise inventory management can be fundamental to prime cost calculations and critical for sustainable workflow in the entire restaurant. Ordering and receiving stock accurately can even reduce food waste and help lower prime costs. Whether through the implementation of back office management systems that can track goods on the shelf and their consumption or through a restaurant POS system with tracking capabilities that are just as powerful, the right tools can catapult productivity and boost effective inventory management.

Build the right team for the job

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As you explore the capabilities and complexities of technology, don’t neglect the importance of well-trained employees. The human factor can be just as important as the tools you use in your organisation and, when it comes to inventory management, your people are very likely the ones who’ll be handling your food inventory management processes. They should be competent enough and skilled enough to do what needs to be done.

Identify hardworking people who you trust, who are detail-oriented and who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and immerse themselves in a little number-crunching. Pick the people that you feel are the best at handling inventory and then train them and help them understand your process. Each manager deploys different tactics and whether you use an excel inventory management system or a cloud-based POS, you should get them familiar with your inventory categories, purchase units and everything in between.

Performing routine inventory reviews

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Restaurant inventory and costs are often closely related with one usually determining the other. Costs can fluctuate naturally based on various factors such as consumer behaviour and seasonal patterns as well as economic changes and internal transitions.

Managers, in turn, should stay on top of their game and perform weekly inventory reviews. This can facilitate the maintenance of restaurant performance through prime cost calculations and consistent weekly inventory tracking. Potential food waste problems can be identified, staffing can be more accurately addressed and managers can be alerted to any problematic variances.

Keeping an eye on prime costs

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While we’re on the topic of prime costs, you should note that they can be key ingredients in the success of any restaurant business. Prime costs can be defined as a commodity’s direct costs in relation to the materials, labour and processes involved in its production. This translates to the many back-end variables that lead to the direct costs of products in a restaurant business.

Prime costs can help managers get a bird’s-eye view of operations, find out if they are off-kilter and take action according to the expectations involved. Calculating these costs on a weekly basis can also help managers stay on top of performance issues. Potential food wastage problems can be identified (like employees over-pouring soda) and staffing can be addressed more accurately (cooks preparing items incorrectly).

By understanding the primary components that drive prime costs, you can implement tools that you find necessary and initiate suitable solutions in order to help efficiently manage your F&B business.

Looking for ways to improve and enhance inventory management can help you control many interconnected aspects and in turn tackle many common problems faced in the F&B industry.

 

 

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