There are many factors that impact whether your bar inventory process will help you optimize the performance of your bar and maximize profits. One of the most important factors is the inventory system you use, but there are many other variables that must be considered.
Over the past 5 years, Bar-i has been providing professional bar inventory services to restaurants and bars nationwide. We have more than 60 clients and perform more than 100 inventory audits every month.
This experience has helped us understand many of the other aspects of the inventory process which typically get overlooked by bars. By fine tuning these aspects of your process, you can significantly improve the effectiveness of your bar inventory efforts.
Perform Bar Inventory on a Weekly or Biweekly Basis
Many bars take inventory monthly. There are two main problems with this time frame. First, it is too infrequent to be effective. By the time you spot and fix a problem, you are likely to be set up to experience a similar problem next month. Second, because the first of the month almost always falls on a different day of the week, it creates the following scheduling challenges:
• Sometimes the first falls on a Sunday when bar managers typically can’t wait to leave the bar. This may cause them to cut corners in order to get the job done quickly after a long weekend of work.
• The first won’t necessarily fall on the same person’s shift every month. Therefore, you often have your dedicated bar inventory person working on their day off, which reduces their engagement in the process and increases chances for sloppy work and errors. To prevent this, you will need to have different people taking inventory each month. Neither of these situations is ideal.
To avoid these problems, we recommend doing bar inventory every two weeks at a minimum. However, if your bar does a very high sales volume, you may want to consider taking inventory on a weekly basis.
Work Smarter, Not Harder: 4 Ways to Streamline Your Bar Inventory Process
Once you determine whether it is best to do bar inventory on a weekly or biweekly basis, you will need to make several other logistical decisions to further streamline the process. Keep the following tips in mind when creating your bar inventory routine:
• Set day of the week – By picking a set day of the week to do inventory, you can ensure that the same person is always able to do the job. This improves the standardization and consistency of your inventory process.
• Start in the morning – The morning is the quietest time of day at a bar. By performing bar inventory in the morning, it allows you to complete the task before your bar manager gets interrupted by staff issues or the need to assist servers and bartenders during a busy lunch or dinner rush.
• Dedicated task – It is important that bar inventory is done right. The more interruptions that occur, the greater the chances of an error. Pick a time when your inventory person can be uninterrupted in order to dedicate their full attention to the job. In addition, have your inventory person turn their cell phone off to reduce distractions, and schedule another manager who can run the floor so that your bar manager can focus his full attention on the inventory process.
• Use the same person – Even when using a sophisticated bar inventory system, you will achieve the best results when you have the same person take inventory all the time. When you have different people share this responsibility, it creates additional questions and adds inconsistencies to the process. Different people count things differently, and it is often difficult to share knowledge about unusual storage spots for particular bottles when this job is split between multiple employees.
Be Organized and Methodical
Bar inventory will go much smoother if your bar and storeroom are well organized:
• Put all like products together in your storeroom. In other words, all whiskeys are stored next to each other and all tequilas are stored together. This will speed up the process.
• Put products in a consistent place. If you change up the way products are arranged in your storeroom, it will increase the chance of errors.
• Your bar should always be set up in the same way. This will speed up the inventory process and reduce the risk of errors.
We also recommend counting inventory in the same way each time you go through the process. One of the biggest problems with the clipboard method is that often the order of products on the clipboard doesn’t match the order of products behind the bar. This increases the chances of an error. Also, by being consistent and methodical in your process, you will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete inventory.
Do as Much Data Entry as You Can before Taking Inventory
You will need to account for deliveries when performing inventory. This data should be compiled in advance so that it is available for reference while you are taking inventory. We recommend doing this data entry the day before.
Also, it is very important to make sure your invoices are up-to-date when you start taking inventory. This will improve your results significantly.
Finish All Inventory Tasks in One Day
It’s much easier to identify and resolve problems when you complete the entire bar inventory process in one day. For example, if you forgot that a case of Jack Daniels was stashed in an unusual location due to a lack of space in the storeroom, this omission will significantly skew your results.
If you complete the inventory process in one day, there is a chance you might be able to find the case and correct the problem before it is too late. However, if you delay in completing the inventory process, some bottles in this case might get used, making it impossible to find and resolve the error.
Use Sophisticated Bar Inventory Software
Many of the sophisticated bar inventory systems available to you are actually very affordable. Some do-it-yourself inventory systems cost less than $100 per month to use, and the average cost to use Bar-i’s hybrid bar inventory system is $300 per month.
Most Bar-i clients typically see a 3% drop in their liquor cost. For a small volume bar that does about $30,000 in sales a month, this 3% drop in liquor cost equates to $900 in savings. For bars that do a much higher volume of sales, this savings will be much larger.
When you compare the relatively low cost of these systems with amount you save, the value should be obvious. In the example we used for a bar that does $30,000 in sales every month, the bar would save 3 times as much as they spent on our services.
Using Bar-i’s hybrid bar inventory system offers you the following benefits:
• Improves counting speed – It takes approximately 3 seconds to weigh each bottle with our system.
• Improved accuracy – The Bar-i system is based on weighing bottles, which is much more accurate than tenthing. The liquor scales used with our bar inventory system are accurate to the 20th of an ounce.
• Eliminates manual data transfer – Bar-i’s system automates all data transfer for you. This saves time and reduces the chance of errors.
• Automates calculations – Bar-i software performs all calculations for you and provides error flagging.
• Actionable information – You receive detailed information about the performance of each individual product, improving your results.
• Intelligent ordering – Bar-i’s system knows precisely what you have and what you use each day. This helps you determine the exact amount of each product that needs to be ordered every inventory period.
To find out how our liquor inventory system can benefit your bar and help you maximize profits, please contact Bar-i today to schedule a free consultation. We provide services to bars nationwide from our offices in Denver, Colorado.