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7 steps to great restaurant inventory management and tracking

Kounta Purchase offers a solution for your inventory management woes, streamlining all elements of inventory management and providing tools and prompts to keep you on track. By taking the time to set up your system, you’re setting yourself up for success and making life a whole lot easier.

By Dave Eagle

Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your inventory management system.

Kounta Purchase offers a solution for your inventory management woes, streamlining all elements of inventory management and providing tools and prompts to keep you on track. By taking the time to set up your system, you’re setting yourself up for success and making life a whole lot easier.

Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your inventory management system.

1. Prepare your point of sale to track your inventory

When it comes to managing inventory, preparation is key, and the first step is making sure everything on your menu has been loaded into your POS system.

First up, you need to enter every single ingredient that goes into your food. Yes, you may sell cheeseburgers and milkshakes, but that means you’re buying beef, cheese, salad, ice cream, milk… and the list goes on. Define the minimum levels you need of each ingredient, and associate them with your suppliers. When stock gets low, Kounta Purchase will let you know and even generate a purchase order to replenish supplies, ready for you to sign.

Adding all the menu items comes second since they’ll be based on recipes using your ingredients. By doing it this way, the system can automatically update the quantity of any and all ingredients in each meal you sell, meaning you’ll never run low.

2. Prepare your staff (or yourself) for the inventory routine

It’s important that there are dedicated people on your team who are in charge of inventory management, but all team members should also be aware of what the procedures and expectations are so they can ensure they’re supporting the process in their day to day tasks.

For best results, you’ll want two people taking the lead, as that helps to ensure accurate stock counts and reduces the chance of human error. In any case, a consistent approach is key; whoever’s handling inventory today should also be the one who handles it tomorrow and the next day.

3. Take stock of your surroundings

Now, that you’re ready to go, you’ve got to get going counting all the items you’ve currently got on hand. This is the first stocktake of the rest of your life, so you need to hit everything and make sure you have an accurate read on where you’re at.

You’ll be able to perform the stocktake right from Kounta’s system, so no need to whip out your pen and paper. Count everything that can be counted. Weigh everything that needs to be weighed. Update all the quantities and save the changes. Then, and this is really important, get someone else to do it again. When all your numbers are in agreement, congratulations! You’re done! You never have to count anything again.

Until tomorrow.

4. Create a schedule for manual stocktakes—and then follow it

The idea of a daily, manual stocktake might seem like a waste of time if you’re using a system that’s automatically updating inventory with each purchase order and customer sale, but POs and sales don’t always tell the whole story when it comes to inventory.

Jars break, leafy greens wilt, meat can spoil, and meals can be sent back, so it’s important to check ingredients and verify assumptions to get a true picture of where you’re at. Besides, your inventory data is valuable, long past the point where the inventory is consumed. When you stick to your schedule, you’ll have weeks, then months, then years of data to go back and analyse and use in your decision making.

As for doing the manual stocktakes, perishable items need to be checked daily for quality, so you might as well count them while you’re there. Non-perishable items should be counted once or twice a week, depending on how fast you go through them. The more you supply Kounta Purchase with regular, reliable data, the more insight you’ll get into your business and the more you can put your purchasing on autopilot.

5. Record waste (and why it happens)

Any time food gets deducted from your inventory, you should know the reason why. Most of the time, that reason is found in sales reports. But when food doesn’t get sold and still gets taken off the shelf? You need to know that, too.

As you do your manual stocktakes, don’t just toss out expired ingredients and update your inventory. Record the waste in the system, and note the reason. The same applies when something is spilt, or a customer sends something back. Great inventory tracking isn’t just about knowing what you have on hand. When you know what you’ve wasted, you can put dollar signs to those losses and make sense of the impact. When you know why you’ve wasted, you can take measures to prevent it from happening again.

6. Make sure inventory is up to date before taking deliveries

Whenever you’re taking deliveries, make sure you’re starting from a freshly verified count. This prevents the possibility of confusion when adding new stock in with what’s already on the shelves, and ensures the information in the system is accurate.

7. Obsess over your data

If you follow all these steps, you’re going to find that you’ve got a handle on the inventory in your business that not only allows you to make informed decisions, but frees you up to focus on the rest of your ever-expanding to-do list.

You’ll be able to compare your usage with what you forecast and make adjustments to your purchasing accordingly. You’ll know what’s coming in, what’s on its way out, what was wasted, who wasted it—the list goes on. When you obsess over your data in real time, you’ll have a better idea of how your business operates, of what it costs you, and of ways to save money.

In fact, this inventory exercise as a whole gets you closer to your business. The flow of inventory from the delivery door, all the way to your customers’ stomachs, will become clear, and you’ll be armed with the data to keep it that way. Having good software is life changing, but you’ve got to commit to doing the work to keep it honest. The food in your kitchen is revenue waiting to happen, but it’s also an expense you’ve already paid for. Don’t overlook it.

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