Best Practice for Taking Inventory
- Take inventory frequently. For some items, it should be done daily, for others twice a week. At a minimum, it needs to be completed before placing weekly orders.
- Take inventory after the restaurant has closed, or before it opens. You cannot take accurate inventory while goods are being sold. Whatever time you pick, stick with it. If you always take inventory on Tuesdays, but sometimes you do it at night and sometimes in the morning, there will be fluctuations in the week to week results.
- Take inventory before a new shipment arrives and then add the new stock to your counts. Do not attempt to take inventory while deliveries are being made as this can cause some items to be double-counted.
- Clean out and organize your stock areas before taking inventory. Throw out items that have expired, move similar items to the same shelf, and in general, tidy up!
- Use Inventory Counting Sheets –Have one for daily, one for weekly, and one for monthly counts (or whatever periods you use). Standardize the items included and the unit each item is tracked in, for example, pounds, number of items, boxes etc. Changes in what items are tracked can cause large fluctuations in recorded inventory.
- When taking inventory, make part of the practice ensuring that items are being used on a First In, First Out (FIFO) basis. Older goods should be rotated to the front of the shelves, so they are used first. Additionally, try to keep the amount of items you have on hand as low as possible to reduce theft and spoilage.
- Always take inventory with a partner. Pairing reduces errors and the temptation to manipulate results or pocket goods. Always count shelf to the sheet.
- Use the same staff to take inventory. They will not only get faster at it, but they will tend to be more consistent.
- If you use scales to weigh inventory and measure portions, calibrate them weekly.
- Use FIFO (First In, First Out) costing. The price of many items (like ground beef) changes week to week. Using the latest price is not accurate in costing.
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