Restaurant owners and managers know that food cost is one of the largest budget items to manage. It’s a constant battle to keep this expense as low as possible, without sacrificing quality and profitability. Prices can literally change overnight; for example premium menu item prices can skyrocket, depending on the weather, supply chain, and customer demand. Even though you can’t control the weather, an inventory management solution can help you monitor and control food costs.
Here are five ways an inventory management solution can help you reduce food waste, improve profit margins and simplify your operations:
1. Review and analyze sales and inventory data from your point of sale system
A restaurant’s sales history is the best forecasting tool. Review your sales and inventory data to see which menu items are best sellers and which should be removed from the menu. This data is particularly important when planning holiday menus (refer to last year’s numbers) or weekly specials.
Understanding trends and sales patterns helps you optimize orders, so you don’t have too much of one ingredient but not enough of the top-sellers, which can leave customers disappointed. When it comes to ingredients, too much of one and not enough of another means more waste and less profit, but an inventory management solution gives you the insight you need to right-size your stock. Less waste and more sales = money saved and money earned!
2. Identify issues – where is the shrink happening?
An inventory management solution can help you identify where waste is happening. Are servers making a high number of order errors? Are there a lot of freebies, unauthorized discounts, or ingredients disappearing off the shelves? A point of sale system that updates inventory and sales in real time helps identify questionable employee activity that can eat away at your bottom line. If the kitchen staff is making too many errors, then it’s time to take a closer look at why it’s happening.
3. Clean up daily operations – take inventory daily
Instead of manually counting what you’ve got on the shelves or eyeballing it, an inventory management solution can help simplify the daily task of taking stock of the ingredients you have, determining how many meals you can prepare and which ingredients you should use before they expire. Knowing what you have on hand can help you menu plan for the shift, day or week according to how long ingredients have been sitting around. An inventory management solution can help you determine this quickly, so you can create specials to use ingredients before they go to waste.
4. Automate processes
Automating processes is the number one way to reduce food costs. An inventory management solution means reducing the amount of time, money, and labor hours spent on counting, tracking, sorting, and ordering ingredients. Automated inventory tracking makes it easy to maintain accurate ingredient counts. When a customer orders a turkey wrap, the system automatically deducts the ingredients for the wrap from the inventory count. When enough wraps are sold, a low stock alert can initiate a new order.
5. Invest in back-of-house technology
A wrong order is a wasted order, so eliminating the opportunity to make mistakes improves order accuracy and saves you money on ingredients. For example, a kitchen worker who cannot read a handwritten ticket is forced to guess or ask the server, which is a waste of time and can cause a bottleneck in the kitchen. Instead, a kitchen display system with a user-friendly screen and interface improves order communication and prevents mistakes from happening when bad handwriting comes into play.
In today’s fast-faced restaurant environment, you don’t have time to spend on manual processes to manage inventory. Your restaurant’s inventory management solution has the tools you need to automate processes, keep a close watch on shrinkage and waste, and prevent costly errors. Talk to experts at NCC who can show you how you can improve your restaurant’s efficiency — and your bottom line.