If you dread counting inventory, you’re not alone. Most bar managers find this to be one of the most tedious tasks of their week. We completely understand. We’re an inventory company, and counting bottles is our least favorite part of the job as well. We derive much more enjoyment out of crunching the numbers and providing you with the actionable data necessary to improve your profitability.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to receive this valuable data without performing your weekly (or biweekly) inventory counts. So while this may be a tedious task, it’s still a very important one. It’s also a task that can become much faster and more efficient with a few simple tweaks to your processes.
Our Project 500 video series provides you with a wide range of tips and tricks that will help you cut your counting time in half. By implementing all of these tips, it’s realistic to be able to count 500 bottles an hour, which is about double what we typically see bar managers doing when we start working with them.
In a recent post, we discussed the ways in which you can implement the process of mise en place to improve the organization of products behind the bar and in your storage areas. Mise en place provides the dual benefit of improving the efficiency of your bartenders during their shifts and making your counting process faster.
Mise en Place Is Only Effective if You Maintain Your Order Over Time
While mise en place is a very effective tool, it only helps cut your counting time and improve the efficiency of your bartenders if you maintain this order over time. Unfortunately, we often see bars establish an order for their products, only to revert to a more disorganized setup a month or two later. If this happens, your efforts to implement mise en place are completely wasted, and you won’t reap any of the benefits associated with this process.
In our experience, we’ve found that there are three key factors that will help you maintain your new order over time:
- Involve your team in the process – If you involve your bar staff in the planning out of the order of products behind the bar and in your storage areas, they will have invested effort into this process and will generally be more motivated to see the benefits of these efforts come to fruition. You may even want to offer your staff a small reward, such as a gift card or additional shift drinks, if they are diligent at maintaining the mise en place you establish.
- Plan on your mise en place evolving – This flexibility is very important. When you first establish an order for your products, you’re essentially making your best guess as to the most logical and efficient way to organize your bar and storage rooms. But over time, you may find that adjustments need to be made to optimize the efficiency of your setup. Therefore, you should always make sure you establish your initial order in a way that is easy to change and update over time as you evaluate the efficiency of your organizational plan.
- Make sure you label your product positions – Labeling your product positions behind the bar and in your storage rooms is essential to ensuring that the order you establish will be maintained over time. But you also need to create these labels in a way that is easy to update over time as you evaluate the efficiency of your organizational plan.
Why Is Labeling Your Product Positions Important?
No matter how well organized you are, if you don’t communicate your organizational plan to your staff, there’s not much chance of maintaining this order long term. There’s always going to be multiple people involved in the inventory process and if they don’t understand your organizational plan, they won’t know where to replace each bottle after counting.
Labeling all your product positions will ensure that any new staff member will be able to come in on a busy shift and know where everything is without explanation. It will also ensure that whoever is counting your inventory each week will know exactly how to replace the bottles to maintain this order without any training. For this reason, labeling your product positions is one of the most critical steps you can take to maintain your established mise en place.
If you want to truly know whether you have a really well-organized bar, try this test:
- Pull every bottle from its spot behind the bar and in the storage area
- Ask someone who is familiar with your bar products, but not the way that your bar is organized, to put everything away in its proper place
- If this person is able to put every bottle back properly, you know your bar is well organized
Without labeling your product positions, it’s virtually impossible for someone without knowledge of your bar’s organizational plan to put everything back properly. But if you take the time to label each product position, anyone should be able to know exactly where each bottle goes.
Labeling Best Practices
Most bars will use a label maker to label the order of their bottles. The advantage of using a label maker is that your labels will look fancy and neat. However, there are several issues associated with using a label maker that make it an ineffective approach:
- Label makers often get lost, run out of batteries or run out of tape, making it hard to complete the labeling task.
- The adhesive used to hold labels to a surface make it harder to remove them compared with other labeling solutions. This isn’t ideal if you need to change the order behind the bar or in your storage rooms.
Instead of using a label maker, we recommend one of the following solutions:
- Post-it notes – This is a quick and dirty method for labeling storage areas. It gets the job done, but post-it notes can easily fall off, making it a less than ideal solution. In addition, it looks very sloppy and as a result, should never be used to label bottles behind the bar.
- Masking tape and a black sharpie – This is our recommended option for labeling your storage areas. The advantage to using these materials is that they are widely available, inexpensive, and easy to change when your order evolves.
- Black electrical tape and a silver sharpie – This is our recommended option for labeling product positions behind the bar. Masking tape is a bit of an eye sore behind the bar, so it’s not ideal to use it where customers can see it. Black electrical tape looks nicer and is more durable. A silver sharpie will be easy to read on electrical tape and it’s highly durable. You can wipe the shelf clean after a shift and the writing on the tape will remain intact, ensuring you don't have to redo your labeling until your order evolves.
Labeling Your Product Positions Provides Additional Secondary Benefits
The Steve Jobs biography discusses his approach to marketing. Apple products all had a slick and cohesive feel to them, and this was very intentional. One of his mentors in the marketing realm helped him understand the importance of having everything associated with your marketing look excellent. When your customers see your marketing materials and efforts look excellent, they automatically think other aspects of your business adhere to the same standard of excellence.
The same concept holds true at your bar. When your customers see that everything behind the bar is labeled and well organized, they will also assume that you’re maintaining these same standards of excellence in other areas of your operations – they’re more likely to think you’re rotating your stock better, preparing your food and drinks with greater care, and running a tighter overall bar.
There’s good logic behind this theory. In general, when you have high standards in one area of your business, it tends to spill over into other areas as well. Therefore, maintaining a high level of organization behind your bar will often raise the standards in other areas of your operations, helping your business run more efficiently and operate at peak levels of performance.
Labeling your product positions is the best way to implement mise en place. It will make counting inventory much faster, allowing you to optimize the efficiency of your inventory process so that your managers can spend more time on other important aspects of your bar’s operations. Plus, you’ll most likely find that you experience additional benefits associated with being well organized in many other areas of your operations.
Contact us today to find out how Bar-i’s inventory software can help you streamline your operations and boost profits. We serve bars and restaurants nationwide from our offices in Denver, Colorado.