Woman choosing produce in supermarket to illustrate the idea of restaurant inventory
By: rkapur
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The Best Practices to Do a Restaurant Inventory

A restaurant inventory is crucial in any food business since a restaurant’s food budget can account for a significant portion of its total costs. Just think: most establishments spend about 30% of their total sales on food purchases.

If you are able to successfully bring down your food costs, it will have a direct impact on your profitability. One way to achieve this is to pay more attention to the manner in which you monitor your food and restaurant inventory.

Ask yourself the following: Do you throw away significant amounts of ingredients because the expiration date has passed? Are you constantly running short of certain items forcing you to make emergency purchases? Does your existing food inventory differ by a significant amount from your records?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it is probably time to review the process you use for monitoring your restaurant inventory. Just follow these simple tips.

4 Steps to Do Your Restaurant Inventory

1. Use the right amount of people

How many people should carry the task of doing your restaurant inventory? Two people can handle the task of monitoring your restaurant’s food inventory. When possible, the business owner or the manager should supervise the process.

Why two people? They can count the items separately and then you can see if they have obtained the same result. In the event of a difference, a recount should be done. If the manager or the business owner checks this practice every once in a while, it will ensure that the employees are doing a complete job.

In other words, allocating the work to two people instead of one will result in greater accuracy and will also reduce the chances of records being deliberately changed.

2. Use the first-in, first-out rule

How should the food items be used in the kitchen? When it comes to selecting a food item to be used or cooked in the kitchen, does your cook simply grab the first can or packet that comes to hand? If this is the case, it is likely that you will have large quantities of food inventory that will reach their expiration date.

To efficiently manage your restaurant inventory, you must follow a first-in, first-out (FIFO) policy. Your staff must be trained to store those items that were received earlier in the front. By doing this, they will be used before the fresh stock.

Here you can read more about this useful method and check an example.

3. Calculate your food cost

Monitoring and controlling your food cost is a key part to help you with your restaurant inventory. To achieve it successfully, you can use a food cost formula. A food cost formula is a simple and efficient way to keep an eye on your food expenses, prevent them from escalating, and thus help you do your restaurant inventory. Simply put, a certain percentage of your total restaurant expenses will go towards food purchases. Have in mind that this is usually in the region of 28% to 32% of your total food sales. The food cost formula goes like this:

FOOD COST PERCENTAGE = beginning inventory 
+ food purchases
– ending inventory
÷ by food sales

Learn here all you need to know about the food cost formula.

4. Use these simple rules

Are there any other effective rules to follow? Sure! When it comes to optimizing your restaurant inventory a greater degree of efficiency and accuracy can be achieved if you follow these 3 rules:

  1. Don’t combine the process of receiving a new shipment and counting your existing food inventory. If you do this, it can lead to double counting and confusion. Inventory must be taken before a new shipment arrives
  2. If you take inventory every week, do it at the same time and on the same day on a regular basis. Following this practice will enable you to avoid fluctuations in weekly figures
  3. When there is wastage, the reason must be recorded

Monitoring your restaurant inventory on a consistent basis and then taking the necessary corrective action can yield positive results. For instance, you may notice that there is greater wastage of items sourced from a particular supplier. You could then discontinue or reduce purchases from that person or organization.

Well planned and effectively implemented food and restaurant inventory practices will result in lower wastage, a greater degree of cost-effectiveness, and higher profitability. Want more restaurant practices that will grow your business and your profits? Learn here how to grow your restaurant business.


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