Best-Practice Tips for Taking Your Restaurant Inventory

Taking an inventory is a disliked job at many restaurants, but it is essential to control food costs and enhance your profitability. Yet many restaurant owners confess that they either do it sloppily or infrequently. Below we give some pointers on how to better structure the inventory process.

Tips to Improve Your Inventory Process

Take inventory regularly – at the very least before weekly orders are placed. Ensure that the restaurant is shut and no deliveries are being made – you cannot be accurate when goods are changing hands. Stick with the same time and place to avoid variation.

Clean your stock areas prior to taking inventory, and organise your shelves and tidy up.

Alterations to which items are tracked can cause large variations. Inventory Count Sheets can be used for daily, weekly and monthly counts (or whichever period you use). These standardize the items included and the unit each item is monitored in (pounds, boxes, numbers of items, etc). LiveInventory can help you to create Count Sheets and monitor results over time.

When taking inventory, employ a First In First Out (FIFO) rule. Older items should be repositioned to the front of shelves so they are dealt with first. Also try to maintain low amounts of items which are to hand to reduce spoilage and theft.

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Employee Involvement

Always have two persons to take inventory. They must count items separately and then compare the results to spot anomalies. Pairs minimise errors and reduce the likelihood of goods being pocketed.

Always use the same employees to take inventory. They will both get faster at it and more consistent.

If you use scales to measure portions and weigh inventory, ensure that they are calibrated weekly.

Standardize your unit cost. Many items change in price from week to week (like ground beef). Take the latest price paid to be the standard. It is the simplest to find and recall.

When taking inventory, you may have items stored in Walk in Cold Rooms such as those sold by

More inventory ideas are to be found here:

The Recipe for a Successful Inventory

Consistency is key when it comes to creating a positive inventory. Using the same staff, taking inventory at the same time and counting the same items regularly are some of the easiest ways to improve accuracy.


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