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Blog | Inventory | Management

5 Restaurant Inventory Mistakes We Can’t Believe Managers Are Still Making

Good restaurant managers understand the importance of controlling inventory, but that’s easier said than done. Are your managers still making these restaurant inventory mistakes? Find out right now.

Restaurant managers need a different way to approach inventory. It’s that simple. Good managers understand the importance of controlling food and waste costs, but with the volume of operational issues they face every day, it can be an overwhelming task to stay on top of inventory.

Counts get rushed. Orders get guesstimated. Mistakes get made. It’s nobody’s fault, necessarily. It’s just an unfortunate side-effect of restaurant managers lacking the support they need. It’s not all doom and gloom, though! Advances in restaurant technology are ensuring that managers finally have the tools they need to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

But before we let you walk away with 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!

Mistake #1: Inefficient and Inaccurate Counting Processes

Raise your hand: Who loves counting inventory? We’re going to go ahead and guess that no hands went up. Why’s that? Let us count the ways:

  • It’s time-consuming
  • It’s boring
  • It eats up managers’ time
  • It chains managers to the back of the house

Counting inventory keeps managers from performing other duties, like rallying the troops or putting in face time with customers. And yet many restaurants today still expect their managers to conduct regular (even daily!) inventory counts.  

Course Correction: Rotating Strategic Spot Checks

Ideally, managers should only have to conduct a full inventory check once a week. On a daily basis, they can simply conduct rotating “spot checks” on top sellers, perishables and the most expensive items.

This ensures your establishment does not 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 helps managers focus their time and attention on critical areas of concern. This reduces inaccurate orders, food waste, unhappy customers, and lost sales.

Mistake #2: “Gut-Instinct” Ordering

Your restaurant managers are experienced professionals. The next shift isn’t their first rodeo. So, they have a gut instinct about how much inventory to order to get through an average shift. The problem is there are few “average shifts.” What’s more, to hedge their bets, managers typically tend to over order. But that leads to waste and lost revenue. The reality is that “guesstimates” will only get you and your business into trouble. A myriad of factors can derail the best-laid gut instinct planning. Inclement weather or a surprise catering order can seriously mess up plan.

Course Correction: Intelligent Forecasts

It’s time to stop letting managers go with their guts. In today’s world, managers need to place orders based on real-world insights, using historical business trends and accurate system-generated sales forecasts . They 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.

Mistake #3: Insufficient Knowledge of Menu and Recipe Costs

Say one of your line cooks regularly puts three extra slices of corned beef on a Reuben sandwich. How is that going to impact your inventory management and revenue over time? Food- and profit-wasting errors will quickly add up and throw your inventory management and food costs out of whack.

Course Correction: Menu Modeling and Precise Recipes

Every dish in your restaurant has a recipe and every recipe has a cost. To keep costs consistent and achieve the correct cost percentage, restaurants need menu modeling capabilities and precise recipes. 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.  

Mistake #4: 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. Every restaurant has waste.

But according to the National Restaurant Association, only 47% of restaurants track food waste.

This leads to lost revenue, higher operating costs, and a larger environmental footprint (which is not something restaurant patrons appreciate in today’s market).

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

Ordering the right amount of food is the obvious first step to reducing the overall cost of food waste. Advanced technologies can significantly improve inventory management with three critical capabilities — smarter forecasting, proactive reporting, and intelligent workflows.

  • Smart forecasts consider all relevant factors, including business rules, and internal and external data.
  • Proactive reporting sends alerts that offer the best proactive, reactive, and corrective 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 customers’ orders.

Mistake #5: Decentralized Vendor Management

Managing invoices is the pits, another administrative task that could be easily automated. It’s quite common for restaurant managers to juggle an endless stream of invoices from a wide variety of vendors. Obviously, this “system” eats up valuable time from managers’ schedules and creates a huge risk for invoicing and payment errors.

Course Correction: Integrate Your System with Broad Line Suppliers

Instead of hunting down countless paper invoices or reconciling invoices in every vendor’s web portal, consider an inventory management solution that seamlessly 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 tedious, less prone to error, and easier on the managers.

The choice is yours. Instead of putting your restaurant at risk for costly inventory mistakes, bring the power of automated intelligence to inventory management to your business — and start gaining higher profits, lower food waste, happier customers, and greater job satisfaction for your managers.

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