Learn About the Most Common Restaurant Inventory Mistakes…and How to Fix Them
Managing inventory is a difficult task. It’s easy to order too much inventory, run out of inventory, incorrectly track inventory, or not have an accurate view of the inventory you actually have in stock.
If you regularly encounter problems when it comes to inventory you certainly aren’t alone. Many restaurants struggle with this all-too-important business task.
Inadequate store preparation
According to LP Innovations, an organization well-versed in proper loss prevention, inadequate store preparation is the number one inventory mistake. The signs of inadequate preparation include not organizing stores and racks, not ensuring all product is out and available for counting, hiding products from easy viewing, and a lack of a floor or stockroom map that shows employees countable sections and the order in which they should be counted.
Restaurants who spend time preparing their operations for accurate inventory management will be able to introduce streamlined and accurate processes.
Not having a single view of inventory
If you have inventory in several different locations, do you have a comprehensive idea of how much stock is being stored? Having a single view of inventory is paramount if you want to manage your retail inventory properly.
Inaccurate inventory tracking
Once you’ve ordered your inventory and stocked your storage areas, are you keeping track of what you’ve sold and what’s still sitting on your shelves? This data is extremely important if you want to be able to fulfill orders properly and ensure that your stocks line up with demand.
You should plan to count and track your inventory regularly because inaccuracies can crop up in any number of situations. Theft, double-counting, input errors, and more can all lead to data that isn’t quite right.
Too much inventory
Managing inventory isn’t only about not running out of stock, it’s also about not having too much product on hand. You don’t want to pay for extra inventory that you don’t need right away, and you don’t want to pay for more storage space than necessary. This can tie up cash that could be used for other important business expenses. Additionally, there’s a greater chance that your products could become damaged or stolen.
To combat having too much inventory make your projections carefully. Look at how much you’ve sold in the past and think about the seasonality of what you’re selling.
Misunderstanding customer demand
Misunderstanding customer demand can lead to too much inventory, but the implications extend far beyond having too much product. For example, if you don’t understand what your customers are most likely to purchase next you could easily oversell a product. Not only does this lead to lost sales, but it could also make your business lose customers.
You can use inventory management software to ensure that your data is accurate, or create your own spreadsheets and tracking systems.
Letting unqualified employees manage inventory
For small restaurant operations in particular, it can be tempting to assign an already trusted employee to manage inventory. However, you need to be certain that whomever is helping you manage inventory is qualified for the task. Inventory management is a skill that requires consistent planning and learning to accomplish properly.
Demand Solutions is a company that helps businesses maintain optimal inventory stocks, and here’s what they have to say about who manages your inventory: “If warehouse managers, office clerks, and other employees without specific inventory-management training are making inventory-management decisions, then it is certain that wasteful inventory is piling up throughout the system.”
Chuck Briggs has been helping restaurants run efficiently and profitably his entire career. After nearly 20 years in restaurant operations, Chuck began leveraging that experience as a hospitality technology sales consultant beginning in 1997.
Working with clients big and small, independent and multi-national, Chuck has represented point-of-sale solutions including Aloha POS, MICROS, POSitouch, RPOS, Digital Dining, Future POS and others. His emphasis the last several years has been on POS-integrated solutions for loss prevention, customer engagement, enterprise reporting, inventory and labor management.
Chuck holds a master’s degree in communication from Western Michigan University with a focus on organizational leadership, culture and climate.