We’ve all seen it: legendary culinary master, Gordon Ramsay, rummaging through the walk-in fridges of restaurants that are in serious financial trouble. As a desperate call for help, owners summon the celebrity chef in the hope that he might save them from the brink of financial ruin. It is striking that in each episode of the popular show, Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay always heads straight to the walk-in fridge to assess the state of the restaurant he is expected to save, almost as an indicator of how salvageable, or not, the situation is.

There is something to be said for this because inventory control is absolutely crucial to the success of your restaurant. Even the most experienced restaurant owners can allow inventory control to get away from them if they fail to adhere to certain fundamentals. Restaurant margins are typically very slim, and effective cost control is what makes the difference between success and the doors closing permanently.

Food costs are the biggest running expense for restaurant owners. So let’s look at how you can ensure that your most valuable asset – your food – is and remains a source of profit and meets the very high standards of everyone’s favourite chef.

Stick to the schedule

Establish a baseline to understand the flow of your inventory. Remember, stocking up is one thing, but overstocking can lead to an entire new set of problems. It would be criminal to allow an expensive prime steak or salmon go to waste due to incompetent forecasting. Try explaining wastage of this nature to Ramsay and you’ll be sure to get a profanity-laden response on how your inventory control, or lack thereof, will be the result of your doors closing. So determine that baseline then and use it as a guideline on how you stock your kitchen. Of course, there will be occasions such as buffets or special events at your establishment that require you to deviate from your usual buying patterns, but this also means that you can use your baseline to stock according to the requirements of the occasion.

Don’t forget about hygiene

Inventory control can be a nightmare if stock rooms and fridges are in a state of disarray. In addition, items that aren’t shelved properly can lead to cross-contamination. Once you have your storage system in place, make sure staff follow protocol and enforce it. For example, raw and ready-to-eat food should never be stored in close proximity to each other. Pathogens easily travel from one place to the next and before you know it, you will have a sick patron in your dining room. A PR disaster such as this could lead to even more grave consequences for your business. If you’re relying on your kitchen manager to oversee this responsibility, make sure that you check up on the state of things and address any concerns immediately.

Increase profit margins

Restaurant managers and owners need all the help they can get when it comes to the daily running of busy eateries. PoS systems are very good for alleviating the overheads associated with repetitive, yet important tasks that one might overlook in bustling outlets. Leverage the power of PoS software to help you manage your inventory for maximum revenue, identify items with higher margins for promotion and eliminate those that result in revenue leakage.

The holistic view that integrated PoS systems provide empowers restaurateurs to make better buying decisions that result in stock moving out of the kitchen faster and ensuring that wastage is kept to a minimum. With the ability to define minimum stock levels via your Point of Sale solution, replenishment isn’t a last-minute affair. It can be done well ahead of time, thus avoiding a potential crisis.

Freshness is an absolute must

The taste of fresh produce that is stored, managed and prepared according to the highest standards cannot be easily copied. Freshness is an absolute must if you pride yourself on serving only the best to your valued patrons. Customers want to know they are enjoying the freshest produce and are getting value for their money. Your inventory control is crucial to providing your patrons with dishes that linger in their memory long after the meal is over. With this type of fridge-to-plate conscientiousness, you might get a visit from Ramsay himself to sample your menu – minus the profanities.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst