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How to Optimize Cafe Inventory Management

The wrong inventory management tool can make or break a cafe business.

There are all sorts of reasons for this. The obvious one is running out of ingredients. Fail to keep track of your food inventory, and you risk a serious lapse in customer satisfaction.

But that isn't the thing that makes an effective inventory management tool so critical.

The right cafe inventory management tool also helps you track shrinkage (which can wipe out around 25% of your bottom line) as well as monitor which suppliers are raising prices and by how much, keeping your food cost percentage in check. It allows you to automate replenishment, save on staff time, monitor cash flow, and even track levels of waste.

Which is why, more and more cafe businesses are opting to use a restaurant inventory software solution like MarketMan to optimize cafe inventory management.

There are all sorts of benefits to integrating restaurant inventory management software into a cafe business. They include:

  • Simplified input system
  • Higher levels of accuracy
  • Avoidance of stock-outs and excess stock
  • Real-time visibility of inventory, wherever you are
  • Opportunities to monitor supplier costs (and seek alternatives) to control food cost
  • Real-time sales and inventory turnover through your cafe POS system integration and on-the-go inventory updates
  • Saving staff time, compared to a manual system

Already, plenty of cafe businesses are experiencing the advantages of an integrated inventory management tool.

Here are three of them.

How inventory management software helped save Cafe Crepe thousands

Cafe Crepe is a busy full-service restaurant operation headquartered in a central commissary kitchen. This central kitchen receives orders from suppliers, prepares recipes and then 'sells' this inventory to each restaurant. It's a fast-paced business model, with lots of movement in and out of different locations.

But for years, their cafe inventory management system consisted of nothing other than pen and paper. Restaurant operators would record sitting inventory on a print-out sheet and send it onto their accountant who would match up the pricing.


Cafe-Inventory-Management-Customer-Quote-Cafe-Crepe

Even for a small cafe business this method of inventory tracking would have been a seriously outdated way of doing things. But with plans to scale up and add more franchises, the process was costing Cafe Crepe both money and time.

When printouts didn't match the actuals, it was a time-consuming job to find out where a discrepancy had occurred. In fact, accounting could take up to two hours for a location that carried as little as $12,000 of product, plus several hours more troubleshooting.

And so, after a brief spell trying to manage inventory via their existing POS software system, the business decided to switch to MarketMan, with a TouchBistro POS system integration.

Not only does the system have an intuitive interface that was perfect for its young staff, it gave the senior management team a bird's eye view of the business at all times, without needing to travel to its different locations. Best of all, troubleshooting accounts now takes as little as five minutes because everything - from ingredients to recipe costing to prep time and waste - is all seamlessly integrated and available to bring up at the touch of a button.

The new cafe inventory management tool even had benefits the business couldn't have predicted, particularly on the labor side of the business. So easy was it to train up new staff on the TouchBistro system that staff turnover actually dropped within the first 30 days of integration. With high turnover a major drain on restaurants in hospitality this was a big coup for the cafe business, which estimated it costs up to $2,000 in resources for each new staff member it had to recruit.

Managing 'explosive growth' at Lucky 13 Sandwich with MarketMan

Fast-casual restaurant Lucky 13 Sandwich specializes in serving up delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner at affordable prices. With both express and full-service locations already up and running in both Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand, the cafe chain has big plans to expand to other cities, both domestically and abroad. To support this kind of explosive growth though, they knew they needed to upgrade their existing digital restaurant management platform. The business opted for MarketMan software.


Cafe-Inventory-Management-Customer-Quote-Lucky13

The team worked with experts at Twice Baked Consulting to expedite the integration of MarketMan software in all its locations, with employees at each location given a training session on how to use the restaurant management software to its fullest advantage. The management team loved that the software allowed them to manage the business, wherever in t he world they found themselves. For example, even though two of the owners are based in Denmark, they can easily access financial reports and other important information and communicate back to the team through the system remotely. Even better, MarketMan integrated seamlessly with their existing point-of-sale system.

Benefits of the MarketMan software didn't end there, though. With food inventory stored at a central kitchen, the business also uses the inventory management tool to provide live prices on inventory items distributed via this central location. All items are sold at cost price to branches and fluctuate depending on the cost of raw ingredients. With MarketMan's live system these prices are updated automatically, without the headache of doing so manually.

Then there's the intuitive ordering platform that helps control food cost. This easy-to-use platform allows the business to easily identify those suppliers that offer the cheapest prices on ingredients. The Min-on-Hand feature notifies a manager via text when a particular inventory item passes below a pre-set amount, while the Par Level (a term used to describe acceptable inventory levels to meet customer demand) allows the user to update their on the ordering page instantly with one click of a button.

Managers can even upload every purchase order and receipt to keep track of incoming inventory.

All of these tools and functions have helped Lucky 13 Sandwich scale up more quickly, while saving time and money and reducing waste. The ability to easily bring up reports at the touch of a button and scrutinize food cost has helped the business save significant amounts of money and set it up for a successful expansion overseas, a process it's looking to kick off at the end of 2021.

Optimizing a hospitality portfolio at LoveKind

An incubator for small businesses in the hospitality industry, LoveKind is a specialist in helping brands across its portfolio scale, grow and thrive. Currently, the company manages four restaurants in Toronto, Canada: Calii Love, BFF, ELXR and the newly opened Nava Social. The problem? Each business has its own separate supply chain, inventory system and business model.

This created all sorts of different challenges for the operational team, with each restaurant managing different suppliers and workflows. One restaurant would order from 26 different vendors, making food inventory management a huge time sink for each restaurant manager. It was highly inefficient and full of complications. Accounting was slow and labor-intensive. In short, with no standard process when it came to inventory control, the system was a bit of a mess.

And so, to help these businesses scale, LoveKind knew it wanted an overarching inventory management software system, bringing each of the four restaurant businesses under one roof. It chose MarketMan.


Cafe-Inventory-Management-Customer-Quote-LoveKind

By integrating MarketMan's inventory management tools, LoveKind was able to immediately rein in and simplify inventory ordering processes across the four brands. For individual store managers, this simple switch instantly saved around one to two hours per week on what would have been spent manually counting inventory, investigating discrepancies or measuring food waste.

Plus, there were immediate benefits when it came to MarketMan's reporting functions. The tool enabled all the different teams to work together from the same source of information. That meant menu development, accounting and operations all working from the same dataset, enabling collaborative, efficient and cost-effective decisions. The team in charge of menu development, for instance, can come up with a new menu item and then easily liaise with the supply chain team using the same platform on what ingredients may be too expensive, or which suppliers may be the best for sourcing.

MarketMan's integration with LoveKind's accounting team helped streamline both ordering and invoicing, too. The team estimated it saved them about five hours per week in labor. They were also able to easily deliver an insight into the profitability of each restaurant and draw clear comparisons, with all information consolidated in one place.

Combining all of this information across one platform ultimately allowed LoveKind to better control its costs, reduce levels of food waste, and save valuable resources. When COVID-19 struck, sending some costs spiraling and putting demand in serious flux, this kind of oversight only became more business critical.

Is inventory management software right for your business?

The right inventory management system should be a top priority for any cafe business.

Here a few things for a restaurant owner to consider when deciding whether inventory management software is a worthwhile investment:

How much time do you and your staff currently spend on inventory management?

How regularly are finance teams flagging discrepancies between reported inventory and actuals?

How regularly are you monitoring food cost and prices from suppliers?

Do you know how much food is wasted across your business?

Are you looking to scale the business?

Investing in cafe inventory management software does add some upfront costs. It can also require some upfront work in transitioning over from an old inventory process or training up staff on functionality. But if you're looking to streamline inventory management, better monitor costs, track food waste and ultimately drive growth across a cafe business, then chances are it could be a more than worthwhile investment.

To learn more about how MarketMan can help you streamline your restaurant's operations, request a demo today. Click here to arrange a free 30-minute consultation with our expert team.

Gerard E.
Gerard E.
Owner/Director

MarketMan allows me to get food costs, pricing trends, even tax credits at the tip of my fingers and what’s best is that it integrates with my Point of Sale and Accounting software so I don’t even have to worry about those steps.

Gede S.
Gede S.
Assistant Restaurant & Bar Manager

I have been using this software for more than 3 years. I like how I can accurately calculate profit and loss on a daily basis. It was easy synchronizing with our POS system to create recipes and every menu item!

Melissa M.
Melissa M.
Purchasing Manager

I am most happy that the price of an ingredient carries through all functions from ordering, receiving invoices and payment, recipe costing, and inventory. The accuracy of this data has been a huge time-saver for the restaurant group, and we have a better idea of how profitable we are day-to day.”

Seamless Integrations

MarketMan integrates with all major food distributors, POS systems and accounting software to help you build a unique ecosystem tailored to your specific needs.

Learn more about food costing & inventory management.

Learn more below.