Best practices for restaurant inventory management

Many restaurant operators could testify that inventory management is one of the most tedious tasks of running a restaurant. You have to record your stocks and check them on a regular basis to keep your records updated. Plus, you have to come up with usable data. It may be a challenging and frustrating task, but it’s the most important thing you should do for your restaurant business.

Inventory management may require more time, but it can help you save thousands of dollars each year in your business especially if you use effective and trusted software for Inventory management.

There are practices you can do not to make your inventory as painful as you think. With the right technology and correct approach, you can make your inventory faster, easier and an effective tool for your restaurant success.

How to do inventory in a restaurant

Organise your supplies

Organisation is the most effective way to manage your inventory. Each item should have a place so you will be able to access them quickly. If you or your staff needs to move or use something, you are expected to return them after you are done using it. 

You also might want to use labels on your shelves or storage drawers, so you know what is in there. Try to categorise your inventory to make it easier to locate them once you need them. For example, you can start with dry goods first, then move to your freezer, then office supplies, etc.

Avoid over-ordering

Practice proper planning and foresight so you can keep your inventory to the minimum. Include forecasting when you do an inventory to avoid mistakes and minimise errors—stock only items that you need until your next shipment delivery. Inventory can become effective if you are able to prevent waste and spoilage due to overstocking. By storing fewer items, you will have more space to increase efficiency.

Assign the same staff to manage inventory

Once you are able to organise your stocks effectively, you should assign a few people to your staff to help you manage inventory. Your chef or manager will be your best option. Tell them to work closely with the inventory so they can spot inconsistencies or errors.

Make them understand how inventory is essential and how inaccurate can affect your profits.

First in, first out

This is a method that is mostly used in any food business. FIFO is the best practice to ensure that you store and rotate your supplies to avoid spoilage and waste. When you stock your items, place the older ingredients in the front to ensure that they use them first before using new ones.

One way to avoid waste is by labelling your ingredients with use-by dates or by marking your containers with which one to use first before opening new containers. Labelling can help especially if you don’t have that good organisation process in your space, and it can also avoid confusion.

Be consistent

To maintain your inventory system accurately, you have to work on a regular schedule. There are calculations that refer to a specific period, such as weekly or monthly. If you are not consistent in doing your inventory on a regular basis, you’ll end up with inaccurate data. 

You can set a different schedule for your items. Perishable goods or those goods with short life and frequently used ingredients should be checked daily, while those bulk items can be checked weekly.

If you are able to set the dates and times consistently, you and your team will be able to see a pattern and do inventory faster and easier.