Bars and restaurants are increasingly using bar inventory control systems to assist them with their liquor inventory to control their liquor cost. While there are a large variety of types of bar inventory control systems, most share the common aims of increasing the speed, ease and efficiency of performing detailed liquor inventory. Historically bars have taken end of month inventory for accounting purposes to calculate their cost of goods sold (known as liquor cost in the industry). Today more and more bars are using liquor inventory as a management tool to increase the quality and detail of information they use to manage their businesses. Taking accurate liquor inventory can be an effective control measure which can assist owners and managers in reducing liquor inventory shrinkage and increasing sales. While some bars develop simple analytical tools in-house often using Microsoft Excel, the variety of good value bar inventory control system options available today means bars have a wide range of choices to address their specific liquor inventory needs. The different types of bar inventory control systems vary enormously in both price and sophistication meaning that the specific decision of which solution to choose can become confusing. I suggest considering the following when selecting the best bar inventory control system for your business:
Hardware: Various hardware platforms exist which perform essential functions of identifying products, accurately measuring opened vessels and recording counts of full items. When evaluating different hardware options consider the initial cost as well as the speed and accuracy with which liquor inventory levels can be recorded. While handheld devices seem convenient, many on the market today are poorly designed from an ergonomic standpoint since they tie up your hands and can be difficult to learn and operate. Systems which use a laptop as the ‘brain’ tend to be much less expensive since they leverage existing computational power.
Data entry method: Bar inventory control systems systems which use visual methods to record liquor inventory levels can be easy to use but lack the precision of systems based on weight. Considering that open bottles can be weighed at a rate of one per three or four seconds, systems based on other methods seem like a compromise.
Quality of reporting: Counting your liquor inventory is the method you use to feed your bar inventory control system with data to analyze. The actual purpose of bar inventory control systems is to provide information which help you run your bar smarter and make more money. Choosing a bar inventory control system which will presents useful and actionable information in an easy to digest format is essential. The reports should contain some graphical elements as these tend to be significantly more powerful analytical tools that simple tables.
POS system integration: One of the strengths of bar inventory control systems is the ability integrate with your POS system so you can accurately compare the liquor inventory which was used with what was sold. If your bar inventory control system either doesn’t integrate with your POS or it is not easy to impalement this feature, keep looking. This element is crucial to your bar inventory control system adding value to your business since it will allow you to track individual product variances.
Supported/ unsupported inventory control: The less expensive bar inventory control systems are completely do it yourself meaning the learning curve can be difficult. If you spend a little more on your liquor inventory system, it should include professional support such as assistance programming your POS system more effectively and writing recipes for all your POS buttons more accurately. In the same way it makes sense to pay an Accountant to handle the technical elements of your accounting system, having a professional involved in the implementation of your bar inventory control system will pay you back many times over. Continuing support on a regular basis will mean you get the best out of the system. It also means when you have management changes, your liquor inventory system will not suffer as you will have assistance implementing the system with your new staff.
Our clients see their liquor costs fall by more than 3% on average when they begin using our bar inventory control system. The price of our most popular pricing plan is just $300 per month meaning if you have liquor sales of $10,000 per month or more, implementing our liquor inventory system will product a positive ROI. While our bar inventory is a very effective way to control your liquor cost, I'm not claiming it's the best fit for every bar. Our typical clients already have effective management in place and we simply provide a very easy way to compare the number of drinks rung with the number poured for them. Whatever you do, STOP USING LIQUOR COST TO RUN YOUR BAR!
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