Restaurant Inventory Management and Your Bottom Line

POS Business

POS Business

In addition to being one of the biggest tasks to undertake, monitoring your inventory is one of the most complex parts of running a restaurant, and mistakes in your inventory control system can be costly. There are a number of ways inventory loss can occur – from employee dishonesty to simple mistakes; however, with the right inventory control system in place, you can prevent financial losses that can threaten your restaurant.

Understanding Inventory

Inventory is complex because it includes such a wide variety of items that need to be on hand at any time in a restaurant. The food itself, items needed to prepare the food, paper products, tableware, and more are all part of your inventory. The balance between having just enough of everything on hand and having too much or too little can be difficult to strike. A shortage of any inventory item means you can’t provide for your customers, but having too much of any item could lead to lost money due to food going bad and being wasted.

Careful inventory control means not only knowing what you have on hand at any given time, but also knowing how much you need to replace, where that inventory is going, and where losses are coming from.

Automated Inventory Control Software

Computers have changed the way restaurant owners track inventory. Using the right software can make the tasks of avoiding and catching inventory loss much easier.

There are a number of software options on the market. The size of your restaurant and the amount of inventory you go through daily are factors in what type of software is right for you. Even with software in place, it’s vital that you make the regular updating and reviewing of your inventory a top priority; if not, problems caught by the system won’t reach your eyes in time to do anything about it.

Remember that any software is only as good as the information entered into it, and in order to keep information accurate, careful and diligent efforts must be made on your part.

Point of Sale Systems (POS)

Employee theft is a staggering problem in retail, costing billions. In a busy restaurant, it’s not difficult for an employee to pocket everything from cash to inventory. A common and simple method of employee theft is providing a customer with food, without entering it a sale, and taking the cash. Your inventory is now gone with no cash to show for it, linking the problem of cash theft to inventory loss.

Advanced point of sale (POS) systems can help control this problem by ensuring that every employee is responsible for their sales and service. These automated systems can save you money in another way as well. POS systems take care of the math for your employees, ensuring that splitting a tab five ways doesn’t lead to an error that shorts the till.

Staying Organized

There is perhaps nothing more vital to inventory control than ensuring that everything is properly organized. Make sure that all of your employees understand the importance of the organizational plan and are returning items to their proper place.

It’s also important that employees report inventory losses or problems immediately. Damaged goods or missing items must be dealt with quickly. Foster an environment where employees feel safe coming to you if they suspect theft on any level by a co-worker, and be certain to handle things in such a way as to keep the honest employee safe from retribution.

How to Choose the Best Cash Drawer

POS Cash Drawer

POS Cash Drawer

A cash drawer is a basic piece of equipment yet a major part of everyday activities for many businesses. The right cash drawer combines ease of use for employees with security, durability, and well-featured record keeping – all while fitting into your budget. When choosing the best cash drawer for your business, it is wise to consider all of the particular needs of your specific business and accounting systems.

Heavy Duty Versus Standard Duty

Cash drawers are grouped into two basic categories, high duty and standard, with the main difference between the two being the durability and strength of the system.

Heavy-duty cash drawers will withstand more opening and closing, will open and close more smoothly, and have a higher quality latch that is longer lasting and more secure. They cost more, but can handle heavier use. Heavy-duty drawers are best for any business where the drawer is opened and closed with great frequency, such as fast food restaurants, grocery stores, or coffee shops.

Standard duty cash drawers are meant for lighter use, and as a result are less costly. Thought they will wear out sooner than heavy duty, they are still a good choice for a business that does not require frequent opening and closing. Small boutiques, bazaars, fairs, or companies that do more business over the phone or online than in person will do well with standard duty cash drawers.

Meeting Security Needs

Security is one of the major considerations when choosing the best cash drawer. Businesses that deal in a large amount of cash daily likely will want advanced security features.

Some of the security options available on cash drawers include locks on both the drawer and till and hidden compartments where larger cash deposits can be placed out of sight. For added security you can choose a drawer that opens only when a transaction is run. Heavy-duty drawers are often made of heavier materials, making them more difficult to break into, as well.

Space and Location

Some cash drawers sit on top of a counter, while others can be mounted beneath the surface. Consider your space and what will best fit your situation. It’s also important to measure how far the drawer will protrude when open to make sure you have enough space.

You will also have to consider the internal space of the drawer based on how much storage you need for cash, coins, receipts, and checks.

Working with Point of Sale Systems

If you are already using a specific Point of Sale (POS) system for your business, you should check to make sure the cash drawers you are choosing are compatible with that system. There are many different options for POS software, and not all hardware will be compatible, so double-check prior to purchasing.

If you have a system that doesn’t open the drawer for credit or debit card transactions, you will need to choose a cash drawer that offers media slots. This will allow receipts and other media to be placed in the drawer while it is closed.

Fitting Your Budget

Cash drawers range greatly in price, and if you need to buy many drawers this may affect your decision. If all of your business will be conducted through a single drawer, it makes sense to invest in a better drawer. For businesses needing multiple drawers, consider how much use each drawer will see before buying. Upgrade any drawer that is expected to see more use.

A cash drawer is an investment for your business, so choose the one that meets all of your needs with the highest quality your budget will allow – you will save more in the long term.

The Right Security for Your Office or Storefront

Security Video

Security Video

Security is a top priority for anyone who owns a business with an office or storefront. Choosing the right security measures within the bounds of your resources, and for the particular needs of your company, can be a difficult task. From simple measures you can implement easily to more advanced security options, there are many possibilities to consider.

Basic Security Measures

The most basic of security measures are commonly overlooked. Locks, especially deadbolts and window locks, are the first line of defense, but in order to be effective they must be used properly. Deadbolts should be installed on every door and locks on every window that can be opened. Ensure they are always in use, and remind employees of the same. Use caution when issuing keys to the premises and keep records of who has keys; make sure employees no longer working for you return all keys.

If money is kept on site, a safe is the best place to secure it. Cash and other valuables on site should be secured inside the safe on a regular schedule throughout the day. Ensure that only trusted employees have access to the safe’s combination and that it is installed in a secure location.

Install security doors and, if necessary, security windows that are break-resistant. Fences and lighting are also basic security measures that can reduce your risk of a loss. Parking areas should be well lit at night. Motion lights above doors are a good way of deterring intruders as well as making your entries safer for employees.

Video Surveillance and Alarm Systems

Technology can go a long way toward increasing the security of your office or storefront. Video surveillance is available in a variety of price ranges and can be a simple single camera or complex multi-camera system. Video surveillance can work as both a deterrent to crime and as a record of anything that happens on your property.

Alarm systems can also range in complexity. Motion sensors, sensors for breaking glass, and door and window alarms can all work together to create a comprehensive security system. These systems can be directly connected to a monitoring service that will notify police or other emergency services of a problem. These may also be combined with camera surveillance monitoring.

Other Security Measures

In some cases, a live security guard or canine security may be the best choice for your business. It’s important to consider both the cost and liability risks of such security measures, as injuries resulting from an encounter with an armed guard or guard dog can be the basis for lawsuits.

Choosing the location and layout of your office or storefront carefully is a pre-emptive security measure that many do not take into account. If possible, choose a low-crime area and design the layout of your premises for good visibility.

Carefully vetting your employees can protect you from theft or other crime from within the company. Background checks are a vital tool to ensure you hire the right people.

Emergency Measures

Another aspect to security that is often overlooked is emergency preparedness. Ensuring that fire safety rules are in place and enforced and that all employees and customers have a clearly marked escape route and plan can reduce injuries or worse. Make sure smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are all operational and checked regularly .

Ensure all employees are aware of safety and security procedures and review these measures regularly. Provide first aid kits at the minimum. Depending on your type of business and location, you may also want to consider emergency food kits, flashlights, spill cleanup kits, and other medical equipment such as a defibrillator. Make sure employees are trained in the use of all emergency equipment.