8 key points for optimizing inventory management in your restaurant chain

What are the challenges of growing from 2 to 10 restaurants? Duplicating your concept and expanding your network is an opportunity to achieve economies of scale and improve margins through better inventory management. Here are the 8 key points to focus your energy in the right place

Eloi du Peyroux

Eloi du Peyroux


Sep 2023

8 key points to optimize your restaurant chain's inventory management | Inpulse
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When you're expanding your network, it's difficult to juggle the opening of new outlets and the structuring of processes, but there comes a critical moment when you have to rethink your supplies and inventory management to ensure the long-term future of your restaurant chain.

What are the management challenges facing restaurant chains?

Restaurant chains face specific challenges when it comes to inventory management. The ability to maintain a quality supply while minimizing costs and losses is their major challenge. Here are just a few examples of the inventory management issues entrepreneurs face at this stage of development: 

  • Difficulty in monitoring the profitability of new establishments,
  • Coordination with suppliers to deliver on time to the various sales outlets,
  • Stock shortages due to inexperience of new teams,
  • Increase in food waste due to poorly calibrated orders,
  • Invoicing errors and lack of control over raw materials delivered,

These issues are all the more critical now that volumes have risen sharply. It is therefore necessary to review the entire supply process for multi-site inventory management. Here are the 8 key points for putting your energy in the right place: 

1. Structuring your catering chain's purchasing

Objective: Maximize economies of scale with negotiated prices and conditions

Consolidate purchasing from a central source to facilitate negotiation of prices and conditions with suppliers. This will also give you an overall view of the supply needs of all your facilities: estimated quantities, specific products to be sourced to improve quality or packaging better suited to your needs, etc. technical specificationsdelivery frequency, etc. Take the time to clearly define your needs for smooth, high-quality supply.

Finally, by signing supply contracts with the suppliers you have selected, you formalize the prices and conditions negotiated. 

2. Centralize procurement

Objective: Avoid any emergency orders to respect the volumes negotiated with the chosen suppliers and maintain quality in your restaurants.

Rely on an inventory management tool like Inpulse, which enables you to centralize all your suppliers in one place, forecast supply requirements, order easily and monitor stock levels in real time. In this way, you can remotely control the supply of each of your restaurants.

"With Inpulse, everything is integrated into a single piece of software, which saves us an incredible amount of time and enables us to monitor our stocks. It's a tool that has enormously facilitated our inventory, ordering and purchasing management processes." Benjamin Attal, co-founder of Franks Hot Dog. See the full case study.

3. Manage your production with a central kitchen

Objective: Standardize production for greater operational efficiency and lower costs.

Set up a laboratory, also known as a central kitchen, to standardize recipes, preparation methods and culinary techniques. This guarantees product consistency, consistent quality and lower preparation costs. Production is carried out in large quantities in one place, which ensures more qualified staff, simplified stock management, and therefore reduced food waste. 

You'll also be able to modify your recipes more easily to adapt to market trends, as multi-skilled team members in the catering trade won't need to be trained in specific techniques. 

4. Automate supplier orders

Objective: Avoid ordering errors that lead to food waste, stock-outs and unnecessary cash flow immobilization... and eat into your margins on a massive scale.

Anticipate your restaurants' activity for optimal inventory management. Inpulse's artificial intelligence technology predicts future sales and automatically generates supplier orders to ensure you have just the right amount in stock. By taking into account various factors that impact business, such as the weather, vacations, sporting events or public holidays, Inpulse enables restaurateurs to order what they need at the right time. Our solution's interface is simple and intuitive, so that new managers can quickly get to grips with the tool and place their supplier orders in just a few clicks.

With no previous restaurant experience, managers can quickly build up their skills in inventory management and achieve food cost targets within the first few months of opening a new restaurant.

"This self-learning tool is really something. What we've noticed after implementing Inpulse on the park is that we've recovered 3 margin points on our material costs. We ensure continuity of stock. You don't have any shortages, they order carriage paid." Charles Drouhaut, Co-Founder and COO at DÉVOR. See the full case study.


5. Check compliance with recipe sheets

Objective: Avoid overdosing, which increases material costs, and underdosing, which impacts customer satisfaction and brand image.

Training and the introduction of tools are essential if cooks or order-pickers are to comply with the doses defined in the technical data sheets. There are several ways of achieving this, depending on your concept: 

  • Meat packaging per portion
  • Ladle and spoon
  • Container dispenser 
  • Balance 

Training and tools are the first step, then you'll need to check compliance with the data sheets on a regular basis. Inpulse enables you to analyze the yield deviations of each plant, in order to verify the difference between theoretical and actual raw material consumption, which has a direct impact on your material costs.

6. Standardize your inventory management operations

Objective : Provide reliable data from the field

Rigorous monitoring procedures are essential for efficient inventory management, as they limit errors and provide essential data for stock analysis. Once you've duplicated your concept and know-how, it's time to do the same with good stock management practices, by standardizing operations in your restaurants. Two steps in SKU management are particularly important: 

  • Clear incoming goods procedures : carry out quality checks to ensure that incoming products meet expected specifications and standards. Report discrepancies and quality problems to suppliers to avoid losses due to defective products and overpayments. Inpulse's "xx" module simplifies incoming goods inspection and automatically generates credit notes for your suppliers.
  • Regular and complete inventories: make sure that inventories are carried out at the right time, without oversights, and in the same way in all your establishments, by specifying the frequency and the products to be inventoried. We recommend a weekly inventory of the top 10 fast-moving items, and a monthly inventory of all storage areas. You can download the Inpulse checklists here to help you brief your teams.

7. Manage your restaurants with real-time access to the KPIs that count

Objective : Centralize all procurement data to analyze and control profitability.

With software like Inpulse, you collect and analyze two types of data: 

  • Procurement data: volumes ordered, price trends, credit note requests, purchase orders, etc.
  • Profitability data: gross margin, material costs, yield variances... 

In this way, you can identify optimization opportunities, detect problems and act quickly. Inpulse's artificial intelligence enables you to make informed decisions, not only to improve your internal procedures, but also to manage your promotions or technical data sheets, while controlling the margins generated.

8. Train and empower your teams

Objective : to raise employee awareness of inventory management and actively involve them in the process.

Effective inventory management requires the involvement of all staff. Raising employee awareness of the restaurant's objectives is greatly facilitated by the sharing of performance indicators. This enables employees to measure the impact of their actions and to become actively involved in improving operational management. 

To achieve this goal, it's crucial to be transparent, making the company's ratios and financial targets available. Some entrepreneurs even go so far as to offer performance bonuses. This system motivates restaurant staff, encouraging them to redouble their efforts and invest more in their respective missions.

"Equipping ourselves with tools like Inpulse helps raise team awareness. We do this with bonuses that are released for the entire staff if profitability targets are met." Valentin Bauer, Founder of Tripletta pizzerias

At Inpulse, we've designed a tool dedicated to fast-growing chain stores, enabling them to automate their inventory management operations . It's the first artificial intelligence solution built for restaurant chains, creating a virtuous circle between the field and head office by simplifying operations and centralizing key performance indicators.‍

To see the full range of Inpulse features, contact us. We'll be happy to provide you with a demonstration of our tool, adapted to your concept and your specific management requirements.

Inpulse equips more than 1,500 restaurants, bakeries and theme corners. discover here our customers' testimonials.

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