Your 4 Step Guide To Managing Inventory at Your Restaurant

restaurant inventory

1. Develop a Process that won’t break down when you get busy 

Historically inventory is a time-consuming process demanding that your staff stop what they are doing and count everything in the restaurant. I mean EVERYTHING. They most likely enter it into a spreadsheet and a few days later will be made aware of any discrepancies.  

The problem with this process is the second that you get busy (or are short staffed), taking inventory is one of the first things to get put on the “I’ll get to this Tomorrow” list.  

The goal is to develop an inventory process that your team will actually use and isn’t as time consuming. 

 A good step in this direction might be instead of counting EVERY item on your shelves you focus on your most expensive/ high velocity items. Think things like proteins and seafoods. These are most likely your “key” components and the most costly to you so it’s important to have a proper handle.  This is something that your staff should be able to do at the end of the night and will ensure a more consistent inventory on the items that matter most.  

2. Take Inventory often 

No one wants to hear this, but the key to any inventory process is CONSISTENCY. It is much easier to stay on top of inventory on a nightly/ weekly basis than it does if you are only taking inventory at the end of the month/quarter or year.   

I guarantee that taking inventory more often will lead to less product overhead, a more organized kitchen, make your staff more aware of the products on hand, and how to limit inventory levels to the bare essentials. At the end of the day, any product sitting on shelf is money collecting dust. 

3. Organize your restaurant 

In both my professional and home kitchens, organization is as important as the actual process of cooking. There is no right way to organize your kitchen but there should be a process in place that the entire staff can agree on. Like products should be found with like products. When a delivery comes in everyone should know where that product lives. Each product should have a home. There is nothing worse than taking inventory only to move a 50lb bag of flour and finding 2 bottles of truffle oil, a case of salt, and a box of fryer oil throwing off all your counts.  

You may have heard the term, shelf to sheet. This means that you organize your storage shelves and counts sheets so that they coincide. As you look at your shelf of products you will see those items on your inventory sheet allowing you to easily streamline your inventory counting efforts!  

4. Implement technology 

My last bit of advice to control inventory is to implement inventory software. The entire inventory process sucks and like every other task that humans hate doing, we’ve developed software to help us out! 

Be wary though, not all inventory systems are created equal. Most of them still require a very hefty set up on your end and require a computer science degree just to figure them out. 

Lucky for your, our Food Cost Management system is the easiest inventory system to use and it’s completely FREE for Dining Alliance members! 

Just take a photo of an invoice and we will provide you with custom inventory sheets and product usage reports. Best of all, our team will work with you to set up your account. (You heard that right, we have live people for you to speak with!) 

Either sign up for free or log into your myDiningAlliance account and click the Food Cost Management tab to get started! 

About Me
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Steve Moody is a Digital Product Marketing Manager at Buyers Edge Platform, and a part-time Ice Cream Connoisseur.

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