By Debbie Carson, Associate Editor
“Waste not, want not.” The age-old proverb is one that most restaurant operators cannot help but constantly mutter under their breaths.
Often operating as they do with razor-thin margins, restaurant operators need to minimize food waste, spoilage, theft, and over-production. They need to understand how adjustments to menus and recipes flow down to ingredients. They also need to track the variances between physical inventory and POS data to determine if there may be theft or portion measurement issues. None of this is easy.
The good news is that, like workforce management capabilities, inventory management capabilities are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Also, like employee management features, these capabilities are becoming an integrated component of next-generation restaurant management and POS systems. The result is a more frictionless process for both restaurants and suppliers. Increasingly, using a single unified interface, managers can track inventory depletion in a real-time manner to help reduce food waste, monitor inventory levels and increase profitability.
Restaurant operators can track raw materials from the time the kitchen receives a shipment through ongoing ingredient usage based on menu item orders. Some solutions offer automatic purchase order generation based on par levels and minimum order quantities. Some even offer multi-unit restaurant features that include resource sharing around food inventory management.
With some advanced solutions, managers can upload a photo of each vendor invoice, where it is scanned and added directly to the P&L. According to estimates, this saves more than 50 percent of the labor to process an invoice.
Some restaurants are also turning to more mobile-friendly ways of ordering restocks based on continually changing inventory levels. Software that constantly monitors food and drink stock levels based on real-time sales data and provides for a consolidated way to submit vendor purchase orders speaks to the future of restaurant inventory management and yet another way that next-generation technologies can help restaurant operators improve overall financial performance.
Tracking inventory may not be exciting, but doing so effectively by utilizing an advanced solution is likely to have a very positive impact.