How Can Cafés Optimize Inventory Management?
The wrong inventory management tool can make or break a café business.
There are all sorts of reasons for this. The obvious one is running out of ingredients. Fail to keep track of what menu items are in stock and you risk seriously unhappy customers.
But that isn’t the thing that makes a great inventory management tool so critical.
The right tool also helps you track shrinkage (which can wipe around 25% of your bottom line) as well as monitor which suppliers are raising prices and by how much. It allows you to automate replenishment and save on staff time, and even track levels of waste.
Which is why more and more café businesses are opting to use an inventory software tool like MarketMan to optimize their inventory management.
There are all sorts of benefits to integrating an inventory management tool into a café 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)
- Saving staff time, compared to a manual system
Already plenty of café businesses are experiencing the advantages of an integrated inventory management tool.
Here are three of them.
How inventory management software helped save Café Crepe thousands
Café Crepe is a busy full-service restaurant business operating out of 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 inventory management system consisted of nothing other than pen and paper. The team would record inventory on a print-out sheet and send it onto their accountant who would match up the pricing.
Even for a small café business this would have been a seriously outdated way of doing things. But with plans to scale up and add more franchises, the process was costing Café 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, the business decided to switch to MarketMan, with a TouchBistro POS 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 prep time and waste – is all seamlessly integrated and available to bring up at the touch of a button.
The new tool even had benefits the business couldn’t have predicted. In particular, 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 being integrated. With high turnover a major drain on restaurants in hospitality this was a big coup for the café 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 café 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.
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 software to its fullest advantage.
The management team loved that the software allowed them to manage the business, wherever in the 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 POS set-up.
Benefits of the MarketMan software didn’t end there though. With food 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. 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 what level of stock is acceptable before it needs to be replenished) allows the user to update their basket on the ordering page instantly with one click of a button.
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 cost of goods 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 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 inventory management a huge time sink for managers. It was highly inefficient and full of complications. Accounting was slow and labor-intensive. In short, with no standard process when it came to managing inventory, 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.
By integrating MarketMan’s inventory management tools, LoveKind were 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 was 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 far 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 put 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 café business.
Here a few things 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 cost of goods and prices from suppliers?
Do you know how much food is wasted across your business?
Are you looking to scale the business?
Investing in inventory management software does add some upfront costs. It can also require some upfront work in transitioning over from an old system 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 café 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.