How to count inventory

Efficient inventory management is paramount for success in the food service industry. Whether you're operating a restaurant, a catering service, or a food distribution company, maintaining precise inventory records is vital for seamless operations and financial stability. Yet, conducting inventory counts can prove to be laborious and complex. In this blog post, we'll delve into invaluable tips and techniques tailored specifically for food service businesses to master inventory counts and optimize inventory management processes.

Screenshot of inventory count app interface

Save time

Improve efficiency

Make money

Improve productivity

Reduce waste

Cut food waste

Follow these steps:

1. Establish clear procedures

Before conducting any inventory count, it's essential to establish clear procedures to ensure consistency and accuracy. Define what items will be counted, how they will be counted, and who will be responsible for conducting the counts. Having standardized procedures in place will help minimize errors and discrepancies.

2. Utilize technology

Gone are the days of manual inventory counts conducted with pen and paper. Embrace technology to streamline your inventory counts and improve accuracy. Inventory management software, such as TotalCtrl, can automate many aspects of the counting process, including tracking inventory levels, generating reports, and even facilitating collaboration among team members.

TotalCtrl mobile app interface - stock count feature
TotalCtrl mobile app - stock count report sharing

3. Schedule regular counts

Don't wait until your inventory is in disarray to conduct a count. Schedule regular inventory counts to stay on top of your stock levels and identify any discrepancies early on. Depending on your business's size and volume, you may choose to conduct counts daily, weekly, or monthly.

4. Train your staff

Properly trained staff are essential for conducting accurate inventory counts. Provide comprehensive training on your inventory management procedures and any tools or software they will be using. Empower your team to take ownership of the counting process and encourage open communication to address any challenges or concerns.

5. Implement cycle counting

Instead of conducting a full physical inventory count all at once, consider implementing cycle counting. Cycle counting involves counting a portion of your inventory on a rotating basis, allowing you to maintain accurate inventory records without disrupting your operations. This approach can help identify discrepancies more quickly and reduce the time and resources required for counting.

6. Analyze and act on insights

Once you've completed an inventory count, take the time to analyze the results and identify any trends or patterns. Are certain items consistently overstocked or understocked? Are there discrepancies between your physical counts and your recorded inventory levels? Use this information to adjust your ordering, stocking, and inventory management strategies accordingly.

TotalCtrl mobile app interface - share report, pdf stock count report
TotalCtrl mobile app interface - stock count feature

7. Continuously improve

Inventory management is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement. Regularly review your inventory management procedures, solicit feedback from your team, and stay updated on industry best practices and technology advancements. By continually striving to improve your inventory management practices, you can optimize your operations and drive business growth.


Mastering inventory counts is essential for maintaining accurate inventory records and optimizing your operations. By establishing clear procedures, leveraging technology, scheduling regular counts, training your staff, implementing cycle counting, analyzing insights, and continuously improving your processes, you can streamline your inventory management and take your business to the next level.


inventory management is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Experiment with different techniques and strategies to find what works best for your business. With dedication, diligence, and the right tools, you can master inventory counts and set your business up for success.

Keep it simple

The goal is to save time.

Train your staff

Enhance efficiency and foster ownership through delegation.

Learn from data

Harness data insights for enhanced performance and guaranteed accuracy.

Schedule a demo

Want to learn more? Book a demo to see how TotalCtrl works and how it can help your hotel or restaurant increase efficiency and reduce costs.