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5 Inventory mistakes your restaurant might be making

Updated: Oct 8, 2019

Sponsored by HotSchedules

Restaurant inventory mistakes are, more often than not, inevitable. Sure, good managers understand the importance of controlling food and waste costs, but with the volume of operational issues they face every day, staying on top of inventory can become overwhelming. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of restaurant managers lacking the necessary support.

However, there’s good news. Advances in mobile-optimized inventory software are finally giving managers the tools they need to take inventory more efficiently and with fewer errors.

But in order to write a prescription– let’s diagnose the problem. Here are the top five inventory mistakes that restaurant managers don’t need to be making any more!

Inefficient and Inaccurate Counting Processes

Inventory isn’t exactly a well-loved task among managers. It’s time consuming, dull and chains managers to the back of house.

Counting inventory keeps managers from performing other duties, like hiring and developing staff, or putting in face time with customers. But many restaurants today still expect their managers to conduct regular inventory counts using outdated methods. The result may be that they don’t do the inventory counts as much as they should … or at all.

The Fix: Rotating Strategic Spot Checks

“Ideally, managers should only have to conduct a full inventory check once a week,” says Nathan Pickerill, Principal Solutions Architect for HotSchedules. “On a daily basis, they can simply conduct rotating ‘spot checks’ on top sellers, perishables and the most expensive items.

This ensures that you don’t run out of a customer-favorite and take a hit in sales. An inventory management system with automated ordering updates based on actual performance and configurable spot count rules focuses their time and attention on critical areas, reducing inaccurate orders, food waste and lost sales.

“Gut-Instinct” Ordering

Many restaurant managers are experienced professionals. So, they have a gut instinct about how much inventory to order for an average shift.

“The problem is there are few ‘average shifts,’” Pickerill says. “A myriad of factors can derail the best-laid gut instinct planning, from weather to traffic to construction.”

The Fix: Intelligent Sales Forecasts

Today’s managers need systems with configurable business rules and data integrations to drive actionable insights that improve the accuracy of ordering, counting, receiving and more. This is the most powerful way to deliver consistency, lower costs and hit your numbers.

Insufficient Knowledge of Menu and Recipe Costs

Food- and profit-wasting errors can throw your inventory management and food costs out of whack.

“Say one of your line cooks regularly puts three extra slices of corned beef on a Reuben sandwich,” Pickerill says. “That’s going to negatively impact your inventory and your revenue over time.”

The Fix: Menu Modeling and Precise Recipes

Every dish in your restaurant has a recipe and every recipe has a cost. Intelligent inventory management systems give you the ability to conduct menu modeling for analysis of cost and profitability by various ingredients, quantities, and vendor sources. As a result, ordering based on recipes will be much more accurate, waste easier to reduce, and costs easier to control. 

Poor Tracking and Waste Reduction

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, restaurants in the U.S. waste almost 43 billion pounds of food per year.

What’s more … the National Restaurant Association reports only 47% of restaurants track food waste, leading to lost revenue, higher operating costs, and a larger environmental footprint.

Course Correction: Smarter Forecasting, Proactive Reporting, and Intelligent Workflows

Ordering the right amount of food is the first step to reducing the cost of food waste. Advanced technologies can improve inventory management with three critical capabilities:

Smart forecasts consider all relevant factors, including business rules, and internal and external data.Proactive reporting sends alerts that offer the best solutions based on all available data.Intelligent workflows connect tasks, teams, processes, and data to provide actionable insights that remove the guesswork.

Together, these functions help restaurants forecast sales and guide managers through the preparation, thawing, and completion of orders.

Decentralized Vendor Management

Managers typically juggle invoices from a wide variety of vendors. This “system” of eats up valuable time from managers’ schedules and creates a huge risk for invoicing and payment errors.

The Fix: Integrate Your System with Broad Line Suppliers

Instead of hunting down paper invoices or reconciling invoices in multiple vendor portals, consider an inventory management solution that integrates your food and produce distributors with your financial vendors. This integrates invoices from all vendors and streamlines the data into the system for easy corporate visibility — making the process less prone to error easier on the managers.


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