Effective inventory management is arguably the most important part of running a restaurant. You need ingredients in stock to serve patrons—but never too much of anything perishable. If you purchase less than you need or more than you need, it can eat into your profits quickly.

Restaurant food inventory control includes everything from order management to inventory tracking. It’s easy to manage when you’re starting out. But as your business grows, inventory management quickly becomes more challenging.

Are you making some of these restaurant order management mistakes?

Mistake No. 1: Relying on gut instinct

We get it. You know your restaurant. You did inventory just last week. You have a solid feel for what’s selling well and what’s slow. There’s a 90% chance you already know what you need to order.

It doesn’t matter. Always order based on data. Always.

You may have a good feel for what’s running low, but numbers don’t lie. If you guestimate wrong, you’ll order too much or too little. That leaves you short-stocked or with food waste. Both result in lost profits.

Solution

Use reliable data (ideally via food inventory software) to forecast your inventory order.

Mistake No. 2: Bad back-of-the-house education

Start by ensuring everyone in the back-of-the-house knows the menu well. How well? Everyone should know every recipe and the associated ingredient costs. (That includes you.)

Generous portions or eye-balling things when assembling a food item can easily add up. For example, if just one of your cooks adds even a little extra to every plate, you’re losing money.

Over time, a lot of money.

Solution:

Create precise recipes and ensure your staff sticks to them. Food prep, cooking and ordering should all be based on precise knowledge of your menu and recipe costs.

RELATED: The Difference Between Cash Flow and Profitability (And How to Improve Both)

Mistake No. 3: Poor food waste tracking

Food waste is a big issue in the restaurant business. It hurts profitability and it’s not great for the environment. In fact, “84.3% of unused food in American restaurants ends up being disposed of” instead of being donated or recycled.

And an alarming number of restaurant owners and managers don’t even track food waste.

Without tracking waste, you’ll miss valuable insights into changes you could make to everything from food prep to portion size that might minimize waste—and lost profits.

Solution:

Use restaurant management software to implement intelligent workflows, proactive reporting, and smarter forecasting.

Mistake No. 4: Relying on outdated processes

Ready for a hard truth? If you’re tracking inventory in an Excel sheet, you’re doing it wrong. (Ouch, right?)

Manual inventory processes leave you open to human error. Just one fat-fingered data entry can throw off an entire order. Plus, manually tracked data isn’t available in real-time.

Basically, manual processes are a disaster waiting to happen.

Solution

Integrate as many of your restaurant technology systems as possible. Ideally, you’ll use a single system for inventory management, time-tracking, payment processing and customer loyalty.

NEED A POS SYSTEM? Check out our payment processing system—designed to be a complete solution for restaurants

Better inventory management starts today

Consistency is the key to success when it comes to tracking anything, and restaurant inventory management is no different. Standardize your processes to ensure accurate results each time.

Inventory management may be a tedious job, but it’s also one of the most important jobs in a restaurant.

Take your restaurant inventory management seriously. Talk to your team and see what their daily routine is like. Look for ways to make your inventory tracking better month over month.

Here’s a quick recap of our top suggestions

  • Start researching food inventory software to find the best fit for your establishment.
  • Survey your staff to determine how food inventory management is currently being done.
  • Start tracking food waste. Once you have at least a month worth of data, determine how much you’re losing due to food waste and start looking for ways to lower that number.

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