Manual inventory count: a time-consuming and endless process

Restaurants do inventory counts several times a month as they receive orders at least once a week. The manual work is time consuming and most restaurants spend more time than they think when it comes to inventory management.

The restaurant managers we have worked with would much rather spend their time on other tasks (e.g. counting cash, dishwashing) than constantly having to make time to count their inventory.

Why do most people want to avoid counting their inventory manually in restaurants? We see that there are several reasons for this.

Lack of Organization and Control

One of the reasons that keeping track of inventory is so time consuming is that prior to getting to the stage of counting inventory, time needs to be spent on organizing, cleaning and sorting products. 

You have to get rid of items that have gone out of date, clean the shelves, sort and group different types of items – all this before you can even start counting each item.

No System for Expired Products

Most restaurants know that FIFO is an important rule when it comes to inventory management – First In, First Out. In a time-pressured industry such as the restaurant industry, one will often just grab the first thing one finds and therefore often easily forget this. Waiters may  feel that it is not their job to oversee this or do not see the value of FIFO. Furthermore, the management team does not have time for this.

Whatever the reason is for not being able to follow the FIFO-method, a significant part of restaurant inventory ends up being thrown away, making it much harder to keep count.

Read more about how restaurants can reduce food waste here.

Lack of Knowledge Among Employees

Let’s say that you as a restaurant manager have control over an organized inventory and follow the FIFO method. But, you know you can not do this alone. Many new waiters and employees come in and out of the restaurant industry, this means that more time and effort needs to be spent on teaching staff how to manage inventory. 

Price Lookup

After you have counted as well as organized stock and written everything you have down on paper, you have to look up all the prices. You probably have several hundred items in your stock and need to look over the price you paid for each of these, another time consuming task. 

Manual spreadsheets

After organizing, counting and researching prices on inventory – all this is then manually entered into a spreadsheet on the computer. This can often lead to several errors, underlining why counting items manually  is  hard and time consuming.

Time-consuming Calculations and  Analysis

Furthermore, you also need to analyze numbers for your restaurant and understand what those numbers mean. Have any items disappeared? Are you ordering too much of something that leads to food waste?

Furthermore, the whole process needs to be repeated again….

Inventory counting is a time consuming and endless process that can be improved with the help of inventory management software. Read more here about how the HORECA industry can digitize their inventory system.

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