For the hospitality owner who is already time-poor and working inconsistent hours, managing a seasonal inventory comes with a host of challenges. But it doesn’t have to be an ongoing slog. Here, we detail five common struggles of managing a seasonal inventory – and the best-practice solutions to overcome them.
1. Review and reorganise stock
The best way to avoid seasonal problems is to always know what your inventory contains. Constantly review your current stock and consider whether certain items will be more or less popular in the coming months. You may decide to adopt a minimal-stocking approach, if that’s possible for your restaurant, or even employ a recipe-management system to lower the use of random ingredients that can unbalance your stock.
2. Take advantage of reporting and analytics tools
As an owner, you already understand the importance of management. And managing your inventory is just as vital as managing staff. Analytics and trend reports can help you understand what you already have and reveal changing trends, which can lead you to deciding the menu for the upcoming season. Be sure to use a solid online POS system that integrates with your current software – it can monitor your stock levels and provide daily or weekly reports that are customisable.
3. A stocktake can identify seasonal inventory
Quarterly stocktakes can be useful, but in a seasonal business like running a restaurant they need to occur more regularly. Stocktake can be done by hand, but a good online system can reveal what’s in your current inventory immediately. Use this information to understand the ebbs and flows of certain foods and beverages, and then assess what needs to change for the coming months. Don’t rely on one stocktake revealing the same insights each time – your seasonal business will have changing inventory requirements throughout the year.
4. Avoid wastage
Seasonality can create massive food wastage – and subsequently financial losses – if not monitored appropriately. To avoid inventory going to waste unnecessarily, do a quick audit of your current stock and determine how you can use up items that will soon go to waste. This may involve creating specials with seasonal vegetables, or implementing a discount strategy on less-popular stock items. Once inventory is dated, it can’t earn you back what you paid for it. So monitor all seasonal items and employ the best strategies to sell them before they are worthless.
5. Manage your seasonal personnel too
Popular holiday periods like Christmas are often the worst for restaurant owners who manage a team of part-time or casual workers. If you’re already dealing with seasonal inventory issues, you will need your employees to help out wherever possible. To avoid all staff applying for leave at the same time, use employee scheduling software that can manage their leave and unavailability, schedule staff and notify them on their personal devices, and much more.
Once you understand the challenges of a seasonal inventory – and how to overcome them – you can focus on another common struggle in the food and beverage industry: managing a seasonal workforce. Online tools can provide solutions to everything from employee rostering to time billing and payroll, which frees you up for the more important parts of your business.
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