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7 Essential Tips for Effective Restaurant Inventory Management

November 2, 2023
3 mins reading

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Inventory management is a key component of creating a successful restaurant. In the F&B industry, food takes up the majority of inventory, so it’s important to have a handy plan to manage it. By having an effective inventory management system, you can reduce food costs, increase your profits, elevate your customer experience, and have a better idea of what to plan for the future. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore 7 tips that can help you streamline your inventory management processes, and boost your restaurant’s bottom line. 

1. Set Clear Par Levels

Periodic Automatic Replacement (PAR) is an inventory control system that tells you what inventory levels you should have in stock to fulfill your demands. To set a clear level, determine optimal inventory levels for each item, and ensure you have what you need without overstocking. Only buy what you need, and regularly review and adjust your inventory based on demand and usage patterns. 

2. Prioritize Regular Audits

You should conduct regular inventory audits to identify discrepancies, reduce shrinkage, and maintain accurate records. One way to do this is to utilize technology for it. The Digital Routines platform can help you conduct automated checklists and inventory quickly and effectively. By having your inventory counts stored in a cloud, it’ll also be easier for you to look back and plan for the future. 

3. Opt for FIFO

Another thing you can do is the First In, First Out (FIFO) method. As the name suggests, FIFO means that the food that has been in storage the longest (first in) should be the next food used (first out). It’s an effective way to ensure that your inventory is being rotated healthily - it helps you use all of your ingredients before it goes bad. Make sure you mark your products by their use-by dates and store them neatly so you can easily have a good view of what to use first. 

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4. Strengthen Supplier Relationships

Most of your ingredients will come from suppliers, so it’s best to maintain a good relationship with them. This is so you can negotiate better pricing and quality for your products, after all, you should serve the best of the best to your customers. Additionally, open communication with your suppliers can help you adapt to market fluctuations and minimize supply chain disruptions. With their insights, you can see what’s going to be trending in the market, as well as know that they can be counted on for deliveries. 

5. Menu Engineering

Take the time to analyze your menu to identify high and low-profit items. By doing this, you will know how you can adjust your portion sizes, or you could also see which items you can take out and replace with something new. Overall, tailoring your menu can help you optimize your inventory levels, reduce waste, and boost profitability. 

6. Use Leftovers Creatively

Don’t throw away your leftovers just yet; you can still turn them into something new, and fun! In relation to point 5, by knowing which items are moving faster and slower, you can use those insights to create something new from something old. Let’s say, you want to stop making quinoa bowls at your restaurant, but you still have a lot of quinoa left. With this leftover quinoa, you’re able to make an array of dishes, one of them being quinoa patties - you can also market this “menu revamp” as a promo, which will be enticing for customers. 

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7. Leverage Inventory Management Software

Technology has grown rapidly in the past few years, so you should also utilize that to your advantage! Today, several software or applications can help you automate tracking and reduce manual errors, one of them being Nimbly. With Nimbly, you can gain real-time insights into your inventory and make informed decisions. Inside the Digital Routines, you can use the Inventory feature to view items coming in and out, and how many items you have in an easy way. 

Additionally, you can implement automatic checklists that will ensure that your products are still good to use and that your restaurant is not wasting any food.

These 7 tips will help you build a good foundation of effective restaurant inventory management. Setting up par levels, utilizing technology, conducting regular audits, implementing FIFO, strengthening supplier relationships, and optimizing your menu, you’re able to reduce waste, control costs, and create a more efficient and profitable restaurant business. Implementing these strategies will undoubtedly enhance your restaurant’s operational excellence. 

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