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5 Bar Inventory Management Tips and Best Practices

Bar Manager taking inventory
Bar Inventory - September 29, 2021 Written By: Krista Dinsmore

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Taking inventory in your bar or restaurant is time-consuming, and one of the things that most bar managers or owners push down to the bottom of their to-do list. 

The reality is, however, that bar inventory management is a crucial aspect of any successful bar. Without a successful inventory management strategy in place, your bar will have no idea how much stock it’s using, how much inventory it should be ordering, what its menu profit margins are and so many other insights that transform the profitability of your business.

Without an inventory management plan in place, bar owners are blindly running their business and hoping for the best. 

That’s why we’ve created this list of bar inventory management tips and best practices to ensure your bar is able to maximize its profitability. 

  • Make bar inventory management a regular part of someone’s job

For bar inventory management to be successful, it must be completed consistently and regularly. Most inventory counts are performed weekly, monthly or quarterly, with weekly counts providing the most accurate and insightful data.

To ensure that your bar inventory is completed consistently and accurately, assign inventory counts to one or two key members of your team. This allows you to make inventory an important part of their role, meaning you can train them and even offer them inventory-based incentives and bonuses. 

To ensure accurate inventory, schedule your dedicated staff members to complete inventory counts at the same time, on the same day, every week (or month or quarter). This will give you the consistent and accurate inventory data you need to make better business decisions that improve your restaurant’s profitability. 

  • Train your staff members

In addition to choosing two key members of your team to conduct your inventory counts, you should also take the time to train these employees. Arming them with the tools and knowledge they need to successfully perform accurate inventory counts will provide your business with some seriously useful insights.

When it comes to beverage inventory management, staff training should include learning how to use any technology required for counts, learning best practices such as putting products in the same place each time, as well as understanding how to most accurately measure products (will you use tenthing or weighing?).

  • Leverage a bar inventory management system

It’s time to move away from the time-consuming and inaccurate methods of counting your bar inventory on manual spreadsheets. Instead, invest in a bar inventory management system that makes the entire process more seamless and more accurate. 

Bar inventory management systems - also known as a liquor inventory management system, beverage inventory management system or bar inventory system - is a platform that makes it easy for your organization to calculate, track and manage liquor inventory.

By uploading inventory counts to a bar inventory system, you’ll be able to access accurate inventory data and insightful reports that help you improve your ordering processes, optimize your menu for improved profits, show which products you are losing inventory and so much more!

  • Use inventory counts to understand your actual vs. theoretical beverage costs 

One of the most important calculations you can determine from the use of a liquor inventory system is to understand your actual inventory usage compared to your theoretical liquor costs. This difference is typically known as liquor shrinkage or liquor variance. 

Liquor shrinkage, in its simplest definition, is the amount of liquor used compared to the amount of liquor sold. This helps you determine which liquor products are experiencing loss, and, as a result, impacting your company’s profits. 

You can read our complete guide to liquor shrinkage, including what it is and how to calculate it, here

  • Keep your inventory well organized

There’s no “proper way” to organize the inventory in your bar. There’s a range of factors and organizational methods that you can use to strategically place products behind your bar for increased sales and improved efficiencies. 

No matter how you organize your products, the most important thing to remember is that once you decide on this order it’s crucial that you always keep every item in its proper position behind the bar. 

Not only does this ensure your employees can efficiently find drinks to pour and easily restock shelves, but it also improves the accuracy and speed of your inventory counts. When items are moved around and not in their proper positions, inventory counts quickly become inaccurate. 

Are you interested in learning more about improving your bar inventory management processes, and wondering how a bar inventory system can help? Get in touch with Sculpture Hospitality today. We would love to help. 

Contact your Local Inventory Consultant Today

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A Complete Buyer's Guide to Food & Beverage Inventory Management Systems

With around 25 to 35 percent of a restaurant’s operating budget dedicated to purchasing food (that’s not even taking into account beverage inventory costs for the bar), proper inventory management can significantly improve expected revenue.

To maximize profits you need to improve visibility and control over your restaurant or bar’s inventory. 

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