Let’s face it, no one looks forward to taking bar inventory. It’s boring, it’s time consuming, and it’s draining, especially if you’re counting at the end of a Sunday night shift. Even though it’s not the most desirable of tasks, as a bar manager, you know liquor inventory is a necessary part of running a successful bar, for a number of reasons.
If you’re taking bar inventory pen-and-paper style, you probably wish there was a way to make it faster. But before you consider taking speed counting classes, here are some tips to speed up your inventory process.
1. Have a system in place
When you receive a shipment, it shouldn’t look like the delivery truck threw up in your storage room. If it does, you’re going to have a very long night of counting inventory ahead of you. In order to speed up the process, establish a system to make sure each product lives in a certain place. Organize your bar and storage room by item type and then by alphabetical order. For example, keep all your vodkas together, and arrange them from Absolute to Zytnia Extra.
Every time you replenish, be sure to keep your products in the same order as they are on your shelves. This will make it easier to organize your bar inventory spreadsheet so you can quickly count down the line. If your items always live in the same place, you’ll decrease the chances of missing a product in your count.
2. Have an organized bar inventory spreadsheet
If you’re taking pen-and-paper inventory, create and print out an organized inventory spreadsheet. It’s best to organize the spreadsheet in the same order as the products are organized in your bar and storage rooms. Your sheet should include the type of alcohol (e.g. beer, whiskey), brand (e.g. Samuel Adams, Glenfiddich), name (e.g. Boston Lager, 12 Year Old Scotch), bottle size (e.g. 12oz, 750ml), and total count. You can also make it easier by including your locations, such as front bar, back bar, walk-in, etc.
3. Make sure your staff members are properly trained
If your staff doesn’t know your system for inventory, it’s definitely going to take a while, especially if you have to go back and fix mistakes. Before you assign staff to take inventory, make sure they’re trained on the proper inventory process. Tell them whether you count left to right, or right to left. Explain how to use the “tenthing” process, and train them on how to properly report specific issues like spillage or breaking of whole bottles.
4. Assign multiple people to count
If multiple people count at once, you’ll be able to divide the labor and cut down your inventory time. Assign a certain area to each person doing the count to ensure there are no overlaps. For example, one person can count the front bar and the other can count the storage room. Having multiple people participate in inventory can also decrease the chance of theft.
5. Take inventory when the bar is closed
If you count when the bar is open, product might slip in or out while your count is in progress. If your product levels are changing while you’re counting, it’s going to mess with your accuracy, and you may find yourself starting over or backpedaling to fix discrepancies. Thus, make sure you only take bar inventory when your bar is closed. This way, you can focus all your efforts on getting the job done, and you won’t have to worry about fluctuations in product level.
6. Decrease your sitting inventory
Simply put, if you have a lot of sitting inventory, you have more product to count. Each bottle, can, and keg represents time required to count it each week or month. If you focus your efforts on decreasing your sitting inventory, you’ll also reduce the time required to take inventory.
Now that you have some tips for reducing your inventory time, we hope you’ll have more time to spend on the parts of the job you love. However, no matter how hard you try, pen-and-paper inventory is still going to be a tedious and complicated part of bar management.
Want to really cut down your inventory time?
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