A Guide to Lean Inventory Management for Restaurants
A 2015 Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report estimated that between 22 and 33 billion pounds of food are wasted by restaurants every year. And about 7 percent of food in restaurants is wasted before it even reaches the customer.
But the waste doesn't stop there. Think about the overhead spent to store stocktake and the money spent on vendors and staff to deliver and prepare it. All of that effort, only to see it end up in the trash somewhere along the because of spoilage, misfires, spills, or even theft.
To reduce waste and increase BOH efficiency, many restaurant owners have turned to , as well as in their kitchens to manage . The five principles of and a lean approach to can help them save money and provide a better dining experience for their customers.
What Is ?
is a variation of lean in adopted by the industry. It was developed to reduce and costs by striking a balance between having too much or not enough stocktake.
With comes for your staff. hinge on these five principles:
- Value: What value will your restaurant gain from ? All actions your staff takes should work toward that value.
- Flow: How will affect your staff's work flow? A workflow that supports should be put in place.
- Pull: is only pulled when an order comes in. (More on this in a minute.)
- Responsiveness: Your staff and your business should adapt to changes as they arise, and adjust practices to meet those changes.
- Perfection: Everything should be done right the first time. That means putting standardized practices in place and periodically refining those practices to achieve perfection.
Basically, when a restaurant practices , they keep just enough stocktake on hand to meet . They eliminate waste by doing away with the practice of having bulk items in their to cover every possible ordering scenario.
By keeping only what they need during a given shift, day, or week, the restaurant staff reduces the possibility of spoiled or expired ingredients that have to be thrown away.
In doing so, they create more efficient processes in both the front and back of house to support .
How to Implement a System
Keeping a , ensuring orders are placed exactly when they need to be for a smooth . They have to keep an eye on food and vendor prices, as well, to make sure they're not overspending. is a bit of a balancing act, however. Restaurants have to be on top of their
To do that, there are some restaurants should put in place.
Push vs. Pull System
In a push system, the BOH makes a large amount of a menu item ahead of , based on past average orders. While that may save time, particularly with soups, salads, or stews, it can lead to waste if a restaurant doesn't get as many orders as usual.
With the pull system, kitchens make menu items as orders come in. Dishes are fresher and ingredients aren't wasted in unused portions.
To implement a pull system, kitchen managers may have to take a hard look at their staff, their food , and even the location of their stations to make sure they align with the new process. For example, there may no longer be a need for a warming station for bulk items like french fries, but there may be a need for more fry cooks to make fries as they're ordered.
PAR Level and JIT
With the pull system, restaurants need only keep a PAR level . PAR, which stands for periodic automatic replacement, is calculated using the average past and ingredient usage. This is also called safety or buffer stock.
When dip below PAR level, it's time to reorder. This is also referred to as JIT , when stocktake is ordered just in time to meet . JIT works well for perishable items, such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy, by reducing that could spoil.
The FIFO System
If you're thinking about switching to a , it's important to consider how ingredients are used during a shift. The FIFO (first-in-first-out) system ensures older items are used before newer ones, reducing waste due to spoilage.
Benefits and Drawbacks of
There are plenty of benefits to tempt restaurateurs to switch to , including
- Reduced food waste and subsequent cost savings
- Reduced spending on overhead related to
- Closer attention to means less opportunity for employee theft
- Increased BOH efficiency by using the five principles of
A , however, may not be for everyone, however. There can be some drawbacks.
- Fluctuating food costs affect the bottom line, since management won't be buying in bulk when prices are lower.
- It may take time for your staff to adjust to the JIT and pull systems, which could cause disruptions in , , and food prep.
And if your restaurant's concept focuses on bulk items, such as soups or stews, it may not make sense to implement or the pull system.
Best Practices: Using the Right Tool
If tool integrated with your POS system can help you make the transition smoothly. make sense for your restaurant, it's essential to have the right tech stack in place to support it. An
A strong solution such as MarketMan will help you keep accurate, real-time counts of your stocktake, and send you alerts when it's time to reorder. And since portion control is key to keeping your in check, MarketMan offers a cookbook feature that keeps every recipe on your menu and its exact ingredients in one place.
Keep track of your invoices, as well as your vendors, to make sure your orders are coming when you need them, as well.
can help you lower all of the costs related to . The trick is to lay down a plan and get the right software tools in place before you begin.
Train your staff in . That will help you keep your PAR level and make your kitchen run more smoothly. to make them and encourage them to identify areas on your kitchen for . Evaluate orders from each you use to create a
Once you have established processes, make regular assessments of each part of the process, and each you have implemented. By doing so, you can adjust to meet the needs of your restaurant, promoting and adding to .