5 key steps to facilitate inventory and better manage your inventory

How can you simplify your inventories so that they are FINALLY done regularly? Our tips for getting into a new routine and identifying your margin losses quickly.

Nicolas Martias

Nicolas Martias


Nov 2022

5 key steps to make inventory easier and better manage your restaurants' inventory
In this article :

For restaurant owners, managers... inventory often rhymes with hardship.

And yet, setting up regular inventories is essential to better manage your supplier orders, identify markdowns and therefore improve your margins. So how do you take inventory in a restaurant? From implementation to operation, here are our tips to save time and establish a new routine for regular inventories.

1. Define and organize your storage areas.

This is the first key to saving time and efficiency: define storage areas where to store items and identify them. Here are some examples of zones: fresh, frozen, dry, hygiene, etc.

Then segment each of these areas into sub-areas, for example for fresh: 

  • Fees
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Creamery
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • etc.

On the organizational side, think practical: 

  • Place the heaviest products within easy reach
  • Avoid overhead storage (or provide easy access)
  • Classify the products according to their expiration date with the FIFO method(first in, first out). You will avoid losses and waste as much as possible.

2. Organize storage areas.

Once the storage areas have been defined, they must now be easily identifiable for both the service and the inventories.

  • First of all, don't hesitate to create a plan of your storage spaces
  • Remember to adapt the display to the storage area: if it is cold or humid, use plastic or metal supports
  • Finally, plan a specific display for your strategic products (high use and/or high value) with for example different colors.

Once the organization of the stock is completed, it is time to control it.

3. Define a specific schedule for storage areas and strategic products

The recurrence and regularity of inventories is an essential element in the management of your restaurant: it is only by having a clear vision of your stocks that you will be able to improve your material cost. 

  • At least one stock point every month. 
  • A weekly inventory for your strategic and high-value products in order to identify overconsumption of raw materials. These inventory reports, coupled with real-time inventory movements, allow for a detailed analysis of losses, a visualization of discrepancies and the detection of anomalies directly at the source.
  • A bi-monthly inventory for products that you order at least once a week.

Case study of a burger restaurant:

  • Weekly Inventory: Steak (or other protein), Cheese, Buns...
  • Bi-Monthly Inventory: Sauces, Vegetables, ...
  • Monthly Inventory: Drinks, Packaging, Spices, Hygiene...

Finally, define a time of day when inventories are taken: this can be before the start of the service or at the end of it. Choose a time when the inventory will not be interrupted in order to limit the risk of error.

Now that you know when you're going to do your inventory, decide how you're going to track it.


4. Set up a tool to report your stock and track its evolution

The digitization of your data is essential for the follow-up and optimization of your goods flows. It will allow you to keep track of your data and analyze it to adapt your orders. 

Remember to detail your inventories with the most relevant information:

  • All the references of your mercurial
  • Storage areas for each of the references
  • The recurrence of inventory for each product 
  • The different packaging of the product (unit, pack, carton, kg...) 

Finally, get a scale to make it easier to report the products you order by weight.

Organization and rigor will be the central elements of the success of your inventories. These same inventories will give you a clear vision of your stocks and you will then be able to place the most accurate orders.

Excel spreadsheets are difficult to fill out and create errors when reporting inventory. By simplifying your inventories with a tool like InpulseBy simplifying inventory with a tool like Inpulse, managers can save time, inventory is no longer a headache, and it is finally possible to set up regular inventory reports.

Discover the multi-unit inventory functionality available in the Inpulse application. Request an appointment with an expert.

5. Enhance your stock

Now that your inventory is done, it is important to go further into the analysis of your inventory. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  • Has my inventory increased in value and quantity?
  • Has my loss percentage increased or decreased?
  • What is the difference between my theoretical consumption and my actual consumption?

The analysis of your stock is to be carried out with at least 2 stock points opposite

You have to take into account the stock variation in quantity (+15 Steak for example). This variation is to be weighted with the quantity ordered between the 2 inventories. Otherwise, the stock value evolves according to the quantity (logical), but also to the price evolution of the product.

Example: I have 22 steaks (+15) in my stock compared to the previous week, and the price of my steak has increased from 1€ to 1,10€. So I go from a valuation of my steak stock of 7€ to 27,50€ (instead of 25€ if the value of the product had not increased).

Analysis track: The stock of steaks increases both in quantity and in value. I should adjust my orders so that the stock does not increase again and avoid losses.

The inventory also allows you to quantify your losses

The idea is also to see the quantity and value of your losses and to follow the evolution from one inventory to another.

Example: I threw away 2 kg of lettuce at S-1 and 1 kg this week. The price remained the same, €2/kg.

Analysis track: I adjusted the ordered quantities and limited the losses.

The last element of valuation is key and allows to refine the analysis of the first two. First of all, it is necessary to define your theoretical consumption which is relative to your technical data sheets.

Example for a cheeseburger:

  • 1 Bun
  • 2 slices of Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Steak
  • 10g of Ketchup
  • 5g of onions
  • 3 Gherkins

If I sell 10 cheeseburgers, my theoretical consumption is as follows: 

  • 10 Buns
  • 20 Slices of Cheddar cheese
  • 10 Steaks
  • 100g of Ketchup
  • 50g of onions
  • 30 Pickles

My Stock at S-1 was 7 Steaks. I ordered 30, that is to say a Stock for my week of 37. My theoretical consumption is 10 Steaks, that is to say a theoretical stock of 27, but I have 22 left (real consumption).

So I have a differential of 5 to analyze with my teams (lost, burned, fallen steak...). The price of the steak being 1€20, there is also a differential of 11€ in value.

While inventory valuation may seem complicated, Inpulse Inpulse makes it easy to access your inventory data and interpret these analyses in minutes. You can analyze by store: current inventory status, projected inventory, variance of theoretical and actual inventory, inventory transfer, finished goods shrinkage analysis to identify margin losses and take steps to reduce them.

We hope that this article will help you to understand your inventories in all serenity. We recently organized a webinar with Pitaya to share concrete advice on how to improve inventory management. Speakers will deliver their best practices for regular inventories.

Here is an excerpt from the webinar, to see the replay in its entirety, it is here.

To go further

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