In addition to being one of the biggest tasks to undertake, monitoring your inventory is one of the most complex parts of running a restaurant, and mistakes in your inventory control system can be costly. There are a number of ways inventory loss can occur – from employee dishonesty to simple mistakes; however, with the right inventory control system in place, you can prevent financial losses that can threaten your restaurant.
Inventory is complex because it includes such a wide variety of items that need to be on hand at any time in a restaurant. The food itself, items needed to prepare the food, paper products, tableware, and more are all part of your inventory. The balance between having just enough of everything on hand and having too much or too little can be difficult to strike. A shortage of any inventory item means you can’t provide for your customers, but having too much of any item could lead to lost money due to food going bad and being wasted.
Careful inventory control means not only knowing what you have on hand at any given time, but also knowing how much you need to replace, where that inventory is going, and where losses are coming from.
Automated Inventory Control Software
Computers have changed the way restaurant owners track inventory. Using the right software can make the tasks of avoiding and catching inventory loss much easier.
There are a number of software options on the market. The size of your restaurant and the amount of inventory you go through daily are factors in what type of software is right for you. Even with software in place, it’s vital that you make the regular updating and reviewing of your inventory a top priority; if not, problems caught by the system won’t reach your eyes in time to do anything about it.
Remember that any software is only as good as the information entered into it, and in order to keep information accurate, careful and diligent efforts must be made on your part.
Point of Sale Systems (POS)
Employee theft is a staggering problem in retail, costing billions. In a busy restaurant, it’s not difficult for an employee to pocket everything from cash to inventory. A common and simple method of employee theft is providing a customer with food, without entering it a sale, and taking the cash. Your inventory is now gone with no cash to show for it, linking the problem of cash theft to inventory loss.
Advanced point of sale (POS) systems can help control this problem by ensuring that every employee is responsible for their sales and service. These automated systems can save you money in another way as well. POS systems take care of the math for your employees, ensuring that splitting a tab five ways doesn’t lead to an error that shorts the till.
There is perhaps nothing more vital to inventory control than ensuring that everything is properly organized. Make sure that all of your employees understand the importance of the organizational plan and are returning items to their proper place.
It’s also important that employees report inventory losses or problems immediately. Damaged goods or missing items must be dealt with quickly. Foster an environment where employees feel safe coming to you if they suspect theft on any level by a co-worker, and be certain to handle things in such a way as to keep the honest employee safe from retribution.