You’ve spent countless hours on taking your restaurant’s inventory. Hours you’ll never get back.
Your valuable time is eaten away by weekly counts detailing every ingredient on your shelves.
We’re sure you’d love to focus on your never-ending to-do list.
But, inventory management has been such a time suck, you just can’t get to everything. There’s only so much time in a day.
Things like staff training…a new website…social media updates…paperwork… they’ve all fallen to the wayside.
Meanwhile, you’re spending hours each week in your stockroom, clipboard in hand, counting ingredients.
Consider this: What if there was a way you could get all the numbers you need in a quick, simple way, instead of weekly inventory?
There are so many other items that you could check off your list to make your restaurant more efficient and more profitable.
When you’re able to skip the counting, you free up your schedule to spend your energy in better, more impactful ways.
But what will you do with all that time you’ve gained back?
We’ve got some great ideas, such as these 5 better ways to spend your time than taking inventory. Put down that clipboard and take back all those lost hours.
#1: Invest In Your Staff
In a restaurant, your people are your biggest asset.
They run the kitchen and take care of the customers.
They serve the food, mix the drinks, and clear the tables. They’re the heart and soul of your restaurant.
Having a team you can count on is key to making your restaurant run like a well-oiled machine. When you can avoid hours-long counts in the stockroom, you’ll find yourself with a lot more time to spend on creating and supporting a “dream team” with your staff.
Let’s start with your hiring process. In the past, you’ve been so time-strapped that you may have rushed through it.
With extra time, now you can take those extra steps to find the right person for the job. Write up detailed job descriptions and post job openings on a variety of outlets.
You’ll also be able to interview more candidates and find the best people who really fit your culture.
And then there’s training.
Gaining valuable hours back can help you develop a solid training program for all employees (from busser to the executive chef), and can be helpful for young employees as well.
The goal is to get (and keep) everyone on the same page so they can help run your restaurant the way you prefer.
More available hours also means better day-to-day management.
Before, you were so strapped you could barely find a moment to say hello. Now, you can take an extra breath. Check in with your staff…talk to them…get to know them.
Hold daily or weekly meetings to review new menu items or policy changes, or give some constructive criticism when you need to.
Investing in your people will go a long way towards creating an all-star team with employees you can count on, and your staff will appreciate it. The more good people you keep on board, the less time you’ll have to spend on hiring and training in the future.
#2: Experiment With Your Menu
It’s all about the food…that’s why you got into this business, after all.
The success of your restaurant hinges on the quality of your food. So, it makes sense that you’ll want to spend time refining your menu to bring in new traffic and keep loyal customers coming back for more.
Your menu reflects the character of your restaurant, and it’s what gets customers coming back.
But, maybe they’re ready for something new.
When you free up your hours, you can take the time to focus on menu planning that keep your customers excited and craving to return.
What kinds of food do you want to be known for? If there are items on your menu that don’t speak to your restaurant’s flavor…scrap ‘em and try out that new dish you’ve been wanting to create.
If you’ve got a small menu, listen to what your customers want and expand with a few new dishes. Run a special to test the waters.
If your menu is too big, take a look at the details and get rid of anything that doesn’t perform or match your vibe.
Research trends. When you aren’t feeling so bogged down with inventory, you’ll be able to look at food with fresh eyes again. Stay up on what’s new and exciting in your industry, in your type of restaurant, and in your region.
Having more time to spend on the menu allows you to hone in on the most important part of any restaurant – the food.
#3: Maintain Your Marketing
To make money, you’ll need customers. It’s a no-brainer, right?
But you can’t just open your doors and hope people come rushing in.
Having a great staff and a killer menu is a fantastic start. But without marketing, how will you drive new business and get more people into your seats?
Word-of-mouth is obviously the most valuable type of promotion. But in today’s digital world, almost everyone starts online, researching a restaurant’s website or poking around on sites like Yelp or Facebook.
If you’re able to re-allocate your time away from inventory, you can spend more time building your restaurant’s online presence.
We’re sure you’ve got a website…but when’s the last time you updated it?
If it’s slow, outdated, or not mobile-friendly, you’ve got work to do.
Your guests expect to find any information they need with a few clicks. Your menu, reservation form, address, hours, and phone number are essential.
A good website will load quickly, and be accessible from any mobile device. Your patrons are on the go, so your site should move with them.
And what about your social media presence?
If you can’t remember the last time you posted on any of them, chances are you’re missing out. Social media channels are a food lover’s paradise…and a great way to show off your menu offerings.
Need more social media tips? Check out this Complete Guide to Social Media for Restaurants and Bars from Sprout Social.
Email marketing is another effective tool. When you’re busy, creating regular email blasts seems impossible. But your email list is a powerful way to reach customers, promote specials, and get more people into your restaurant.
With more time, you can take advantage of it. Find creative ways to add subscribers to your email lists via online sign-ups, contests, or customer feedback cards.
Have some fun designing images for your emails. It’s a lot more enjoyable than an inventory count, that’s for sure.
#4: Building Supplier Relationships
Suppliers play a crucial role in your business.
They charge you for ingredients and set the timelines for when you receive it.
When you’re swamped, it’s easy to forget about your business partners. A lack of communication with your suppliers can lead to unexpected price spikes and inventory problems.
Spend time managing these relationships.
Talk about price trends with your rep. Tell them what you need. You can get better prices than you’re paying… Sometimes all you’ve got to do is ask.
When your calendar is jam-packed, it’s hard to find time for meetings.
With more time, you can schedule a one-on-one with your rep every couple of months for a quarterly business review. Chat about the good, the bad, and the opportunities to improve.
Don’t let day-to-day tasks keep you from communicating with suppliers. Manage your relationships, and stop getting taken advantage of.
#5: Tackling the Tedious
Sometimes, you have to use your time for the seemingly boring stuff. You know, those daily business processes that you’ve been putting off, even though they’re vital to running your restaurant.
This stuff pays off big time.
Legal paperwork. Banking. Finances. Insurance. Bookkeeping. Payroll. HR. The list goes on and on…but, without all these things, your business isn’t going to function.
You want to make money, right? To do that, you’ve got to get a handle on your finances. Review your bank statements, accounting ledger, and financial reports to make better decisions and monitor your profits.
A smart restaurant owner will also be on the up-and-up with legal and financial matters. Understand the legal foundation of your business and ensure you have all the necessary insurance. Maybe you’ll find you can be getting better coverage at lower rates.
There’s also a lot of paperwork to keep up on. It’s kind of a headache, but you know you’ve gotta’ do it.
If you don’t file your taxes and licenses, your restaurant will be shut down. Without utilities, you can’t keep the lights on…literally!
Don’t let these things pile up…spend more time organizing the really important stuff.
And remember when we said to invest in your people? That also means human resources. Set clear policies and draw up an employee manual (if you don’t already have one) that covers rules, policies, and complaint paths.
The business side can be, well, kinda dull. But it’s gotta get done.
And with a little extra time, you can finally knock it out.
Conclusion: Scrap Your Weekly Inventory. Get Your Time Back. Save Big on Food Costs.
Think ditching inventory-taking in favor of these oh-so-important other ways to spend your time is just a pipe dream? Think again.
There’s another way to keep your finger on the pulse of your profitability, and you don’t have to take an inventory at all. You can spend more time on making your restaurant awesome.
It’s the Orderly App. With it, you’ll gain valuable time back into your schedule, be able to keep a closer eye on how to lower your food costs, and make stronger connections with your staff.
Well, with Orderly, all you need to do is snap photos of your invoices and upload your sales. Then, we do the rest.
And every week, you’ll have the numbers you need, like that ever-important Cost of Goods Sold.
You’ll be able to track your food costs. You’ll be able to make the changes necessary in order to be more successful for more time.
It’s restaurant profitability without all the hassle. That’s the Orderly way.
Download the free app and starting adding hours to your day.