How restaurant management software can solve your food shortages

Published February 18, 2022

Food management practices simplify operations and boost your bottom line. They can eliminate waste with a first-in, first-out (FIFO) model and maintain a consistent inventory schedule. Food inventory and management are crucial to the success of all restaurants. It's also one of the most tedious and difficult responsibilities for restaurant managers, even during years of abundance.

When dealing with unknown shipment schedules and overall food shortages, effective restaurant management is crucial. Food management systems can mean the difference between exceeding customer satisfaction with signature dishes and seasonal specials, and losing patrons due to a diminished menu and price hikes.

So where do restaurant owners turn for restaurant management tips when trying to keep food management and inventory aligned with daily operations and long-term growth goals? The answer is food management software.   

Restaurant managers are tasked with overseeing a restaurant’s daily operations — from managing employees and monitoring cash flow, to keeping track of food costs, scheduling software, marketing and more. All while striving to consistently meet customer expectations. Overall, a great customer experience is crucial to retaining patrons, but amazing food is the main reason diners choose to eat at and return to a particular establishment. Therefore, food management software is an integral piece for any restaurant owner to keep first-time guests happy converting regular customers into life-long patrons.

Food management systems, also called inventory management systems, allow restaurant managers to easily know their cost of goods sold by tracking and managing sales trends and food costs. This helps restaurant managers meet customer expectations, save money and be more efficient. By preventing common errors caused by new vendors, new menu items, manual input and outdated pricing, business owners can keep customers satisfied by always being able to offer what’s on the menu.

While inventory management systems always play a key role in a restaurant’s success, they’re especially crucial during food shortages and period of inventory uncertainty. That’s why it’s expressly more important to invest in food management software during an economic downturn as opposed to a manual inventory system.

Maintaining a balanced food inventory is a delicate dance. Order too much and you could face expiration and waste. Order too little and demand could outpace your supply, forcing you to make last-minute purchases in low quantities at heightened prices. Inventory management software helps owners maintain this crucial equilibrium while reducing the time and effort staff usually puts into this task.

Simplify operations and boost your bottom line

Today’s technology provides real-time insights into the restaurant business via inventory management software. Not only are errors lessened with the decrease in paper-pushing and delayed communication, but the cost of goods sold is also more accurate thanks to real-time access to inventory, sales and available product for purchase from third-party vendors.

This information gives team members an up-to-date outlook on where deficits may exist — both in current menu items that tend to produce food waste and items currently experiencing shortages or supply chain delays — and allows them to adjust accordingly.

Here are a few ways inventory management software is helping the restaurant business better prepare for today’s demands and tomorrow’s potential supply chain problems.

Related: 5 tips to make your restaurant kitchen more efficient

Eliminate waste

As a restaurant operator, eliminating food waste is important, especially during times of supply chain uncertainty. Food management systems allow owners to easily create and implement a FIFO model across all inventory to significantly improve the bottom line.

Inventory management systems allow you to track when food items arrive, are used and/or are approaching expiration in real time. This can help most restaurants reprioritize daily specials based on current inventory shelf life or update menu offerings based on customer orders and vendor provisions. Owners can also use food management software to set up alerts to contact suppliers regularly, which can be crucial to the success on both sides.

As Fred Castellucci of Castellucci Restaurant Group noted, it’s important to be in constant and close communication with suppliers during difficult times to share business insights and new ideas.

Sysco made headlines recently as it struggled to make deliveries. “Honestly it's very difficult right now,” said Castellucci. “Sysco [for instance] is having to choose to drop customers because it doesn’t have the labor or items needed to fill orders.”

He gave  an example of shifting to bottled Coca-Cola on his menus versus fountain drinks due to a shortage in syrup — a point brought to Castellucci’s attention by Sysco before the supply issue impacted his businesses. “You don’t get mad,” he said. “You just say, ‘ok, let’s do it. Let’s try bottles to solve this problem.’”

Related: Local food supply chain: Can buying local solve supply problems?

Maintain a consistent inventory schedule

Maintaining consistent inventory count intervals is crucial to surviving shortages and supply chain issues.

Food management software makes it easy to uphold inventory numbers through real-time tracking capabilities that integrate with third-party suppliers, as well as count prompts that make inventory schedules a constant, recurring task.

Inventory management software also allows owners to record and review the cost of goods sold, providing critical insights into gaps in the business, demands, losses and potentially necessary supplier or menu changes.

Automate and connect food management whenever possible

Taking human error out of the equation gives a huge boost to the bottom line, and inventory management software provides tools that can eliminate staff mistakes where this may occur.

Mobile inventory management and automatic inventory updates save owners time and money by improving the accuracy and efficiency of food management. Inventory management software also gives owners the ability to group products to quickly compare availability and price points across multiple vendors, see what items cost the most money and identify any unnecessary spending.

Food management and inventory practices are a necessary piece to keeping food costs down and profitability up. Yet they continue to be among the largest operational challenges for many restaurants, especially during unstable markets with supply-chain issues and food shortages.

This is where inventory management software steps in to create a thorough, consistent system via mobility, automation, third-party integration, intuitive interfaces and real-time reporting.

When your restaurant is backed by NCR, it's simple to stay out front.

Whether that's literally up front with your customers, or out front of your competition.

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