Odds are very high your first thoughts when you dreamed of opening your restaurant were all about serving the very best food for the very best guests around. Nothing beats watching your guests enjoy great food and an overall great experience every day.

The odds are also very high you did not want to open your restaurant with the intent to sit at a computer spending time working on spreadsheets.

We know restaurant inventory management is not the most exciting experience of owning a restaurant. Yet it is one of the most critical parts of keeping your business consistently profitable. Mismanaged costs have caused many great restaurants to fail simply because tracking and managing the inventory was a major issue.

We get it, even the best restaurant inventory management software is boring and while we can’t make it the most glamorous part of your business, we can suggest it as one of the most important tools needed today for any restaurant wanting to control costs.

Do You Really Need to Care About Inventory Management That Much?

Simply put, its next to impossible to track your total flow of goods from vendor delivery to the kitchen, dry goods, storage room and finally to your guest’s table; and that’s just tracking food.

Improper restaurant inventory management can lead to losses from food waste, mismanagement of the budget, dissatisfied customers and theft.

Did you know that anywhere between 4% -10% of food is trashed before making it to your customers plate?

Guest satisfaction is affected as well when you consider customers ordering your special or regular menu items only to realize you ran out earlier of a key ingredient? In a world of instant online social media, reputation matters more now than ever.

Shrinkage from beverages alone can significantly impact your budget if not addressed in time. Up to 23% on liquor or draft beer, 2% on bottled beer and about 10% on wine.

The facts speak to taking the time today to consider looking at the best restaurant inventory management software you can find to help keep your dream restaurant, a dream and not a nightmare.

So, What Does A Good Restaurant Inventory Management System Do?

Most will provide a smart cloud-based solution that allows owners and managers access to their entire inventory simultaneously within the same restaurant or from other locations.

An incredibly easy to use restaurant inventory management system will significantly reduce human error which manual input (pen and paper, basic spreadsheets) are most at risk. A great system will greatly reduce waste, theft and risk of human error through accurate inventory controls.

Features to Look for in Your New Inventory Management System

Application Integration

There is nothing more time consuming than having to copy data from one program to another manually. The risk of incorrectly copying numbers could cause false inventory to affect menu planning, or a false record of sales that will affect your budget.

Your new system should be able to integrate with the following at minimum:

  • Financial Application
  • POS System
  • Payroll / Scheduling Application
  • Materials Management Program

Additionally, check with potential vendors if they use a single sign-on feature to eliminate the need to use multiple logins to other applications.

If it’s tracking your inventory, working with payroll schedules or even placing orders with multiple vendors, application integrations will give you invaluable time back to work on your main passion to give your guests a great experience!

Collaboration, Scalability and Ordering

The ability to work collaboratively with multiple users online simultaneously is a fantastic feature advantage. Changes are made in real-time giving owner and managers immediate access inventory tracking, staffing changes or viewing and confirming orders placed with suppliers.

Another feature to look for is scalability.  Most notably it would be best to ensure your new system is a cloud-based solution. Whether you have multiple restaurants in the Florida Keys, Nome Alaska or both cities, access to all restaurants is easy and quick for you and the multiple user accounts created by your managers and administrative staff.

Ordering products from your vendors online is very much a feature to have. Multiple orders can be sent to various suppliers with ease. You or your managers can view, confirm or follow-up with any order if need be.

Look for your prospective restaurant management system provider to confirm that you would have:

  • “One-Click” ordering
  • Purchase Order Submittal
  • Receipt Confirmation
  • Receipt via Text/Email
  • Triple-Check Confirmation
  • FOH (bar)
  • BOH (kitchen)
  • Purchase History
  • “Mobile Inventory Management” from a phone or tablet device

Don’t forget, ordering your products is based off accurate real-time inventory. This way you will know well ahead of your order that low and out-of-stock items have been identified right away.

Pricing

Fitting for every venue’s unique requirements, look for pricing options and flexible plans available for your business specifically. Ensure you can switch between plans as your business changes and grows. Pricing can be anywhere from $25 and up per month, depending on how many locations, features plans etc. are available. Talk to your prospective vendor about customized pricing plans.

Most important is securing the features that are core to your restaurant and then features that will help your inventory management system deliver an excellent ROI to the business.

Wrapping It Up

Tracking food and material costs, improving the customer and supplier experience are all easily accomplished with a restaurant inventory management software solution.

In short, you know your restaurant inventory affects your profit. You are only as good as your Cost of Goods (COGS). A lower cost of goods means a higher net profit.

It doesn’t matter if you run a bodega, cafeteria, upscale bistro or a large restaurant chain managing (or mismanaging) your inventory will make or break your business.

To get you started right now, Download your FREE Excel Template for tracking inventory.