If you don’t, you’re certainly not alone. But it’s something you may want to think about. Because while it mightn’t be the most glamourous part of running a restaurant or commercial food business, a tightly run kitchen inventory can have a seriously positive impact on your bottom line.
In so many ways, having a detailed real-time understanding of what you do – and don’t – have in your kitchen can be a hugely useful business tool. It can help with meal planning. It can help with purchasing and negotiating better terms with suppliers. It can help with capital expenditure. It can help with equipment maintenance and replacement schedules. It can even help with efficiently managing your staffing levels.
Whilst understanding your stores of fresh produce and consumables is always important – it can hugely inconvenient and embarrassing if stock runs out mid-service – a well-run kitchen inventory goes a lot further than just food. It’s also about understanding the condition of your appliances, utensils and equipment at any given time. Imagine the disruption if an item of older kitchen equipment such, as a refrigerator or freezer. was to suddenly fail, and you were stuck without a back-up for even just a few days. It’s a nightmare scenario that could see thousands of wasted dollars. Yet, sadly, it happens all too often.
So, what are the secrets to a well-run kitchen inventory? In our experience at True Refrigeration, there’s no magic formula that will work for every food business. However, here are five things that we think will put you well on the way. How many are you doing right now?
Everything in your kitchen should have its place – and that place shouldn’t change. Whether it’s hanging from a hook, under a counter, or tucked away in a refrigerator drawer, take time when organising your kitchen so you know which items belong where – and write it down! Doing this will make it so much easier to know when items go missing or your stocks are running low.
Regular inventory and equipment checks are essential, so pick a time and stick to it. Weekly checks (ideally at the beginning of the day when you’re still fresh) are usually ideal as they mean you’ll be able to quickly spot any shortfalls, overstocks or missing and damaged equipment.
It’s only human to make mistakes, especially when you have a lot on your plate already. For this reason, we strongly recommend delegating someone else in your kitchen to do a back-up inventory check, at least once a month to ensure you haven’t missed anything important. If there’s a discrepancy, it’s much better to know sooner rather than later.
You ordered it. But was it actually delivered? It’s very good practice to conduct accurate counts and inspection on all new deliveries, well before you sign the invoice. Check for any errors and ensure that what you add to your inventory is what you actually ordered – and needed.
With all the planning in the world, things can still go wrong. That’s why it’s smart to keep a ‘Plan B’ inventory handy with some key emergency items to help you keep your kitchen running, even if something breaks or goes missing. You’ll obviously need to balance this with your available storage space (not to mention your cash flow), but it’s well worth considering. Should something go amiss, you’ll be very glad you did.
Like help in planning an inventory schedule for your kitchen equipment?
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