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Being the Chef » Chef Life, Chef's Office, Purchasing » Loving to Hate Inventory

Loving to Hate Inventory

kitchen-paperIs It Really Important To Do A Monthly Inventory?

Unfortunately, yes it is vital to your operation.  Trust me, I really hate doing inventory and if there was an effective way to get around it, I would! The reality of the matter is that inventory is the bedrock of all your monthly financial statements.  Let’s take a look at the ways inventory is important.

Proper Inventory Increases Cash Flow

Inventory at it’s most basic definition is your money that has been invested in a perishable product.  I have worked with quite a few chef’s who think high levels of inventory are not a problem since they are subtracted out of your food cost.  “Better to not run out of anything” is a common mantra of this type of chef. Every time I see an overly stocked store room, I see precious cash flow tied up in an investment that may end up being over used, thrown away or even worse…stolen.  The trick is to maintain an inventory level that is high enough to prevent running out of product or being dependant on specific delivery times, but low enough to not have your precious cash tied up, that could be used for paying bills, marketing or , heaven forbid, could even be profit!

Proper Inventory Will Help Lower Food Costs

A funny phenomenon takes place when the cupboards are overstocked.  When your inventory levels are high, even with the best trained staff and standardized recipes, your cooks will go through more product than is necessary.  It may sound strange, but when there are dozens of more cans in the dry storage, most cooks will not take the time to get all the product out of the can and will throw out several portions of a product.  Not only are corners cut with scraping out all the product, but cooks with access to large inventories tend to over prep and over portion as well.  In fact, the same chefs that over order because it is “better not to run out of anything” tend to teach their cooks to over prep so as not to run out.  Now over prepped food costs you money in two different ways.  First, because there is a plethora of prepared food, cooks will naturally over portion plates since there is no fear of running out of food to pressure them to keep portions sizes accurate.  Secondly,  at the end of the shift a lot of prepared foods get tossed out, again costing you money.

Proper Inventory Helps Prevent Theft

The final point to make here is the potential for theft. Keeping things simple, think about it like this: You had 7 rib-eye steaks in the walk in last night, but today you only have 5. Would you notice? Of course, you would.  Now take the same situation, but this time you have 47 rib-eye steaks.  Would you notice 2 of them missing?  There is a good chance you would not.  Not only does a large inventory make it hard for you to prevent theft, but conversely a small inventory actually discourages theft for the same reasons.

Since we know that we have to do inventory at least every month, what ways have you found to increase your inventory taking efficiencies?  Share your tips and tricks with us.

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Filed under: Chef Life, Chef's Office, Purchasing

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