We all know how important inventory is. It is in fact a Chef's report card at the end of the month. It is really the only true unbiased statistic you will get to tell you how well you are running your kitchen. It simply tracks if you are getting the proper profit behind your purchases each month. The interesting thing is that a lot of people don't really understand the technique behind it or even how to do it properly. Some smaller business owners, heaven forbid, don't even do it at all .
There is many of aspects to inventory and today I am going to talk about the counting aspect of it.
A Little Groundwork First
To begin with the procedure of inventory counts, you first need a master count sheet. This is a sheet you probably design on a spreadsheet. I have found this to be the most efficient way to keep track of your inventory every month. If you are not computer savvy, please ask someone to help or even hire someone to put one together for you. I have attached a sample of the format for a count master sheet.
Some of the key elements of this sheet are the food categories. A lot of Chef's will use positions in their kitchen for categorizing their inventory ie: Walk-in cooler, Walk-in Freezer, Dry Storage, ect. I like to use the categories that are used pertaining to the product ie: Dairy, Frozen, Poultry, Dry Goods, ect. Because a lot of times products will be strewn all over the kitchen, this makes it easier to find items especially if you have a large inventory.
Another key element is your count unit. This is the way you are going to count each item. For instance if you have a case of canned tomatoes, they are in six, 100 fl oz. cans. Are you going to count the tomatoes as 600 fl oz on your inventory. That doesn't make a lot of sense, especially if you have to count partials. What i do is divide the case price by six and inventory it by the can. If I have a partial I will use a base 10 decimal system (because computers love decimals) to count the contents. I tend to do this a lot if the product I am counting has even partials to the case. For instance, frozen corn kernels, jugs of sauces, cans, bags of cheese, jugs of dairy. For proteins I usually stay to the price per LB or KG and weigh the protein during inventory.
Gentlemen Sharpen Your Pencils
Now I am going to tell you something that goes against everything in today's society. When doing counts, turn off the computer, sharpen a number 2 pencil, and grab a pad of lined paper. I know, if we can put a man on the moon and drink a double double while texting and surfing the internet on our portable phone, why do we have to resort to turn of the century methods to count inventory. The reason is to have a unbiased or uninfluenced recording of the counts.
Usually when chef's do their counts they will print out their master count sheet and go off their area categorized items. When they do this they tend to miss items. When they are looking on the sheet first then finding the product in the area, they are very susceptible to miss items that maybe have been in inventory for a long time or might be prepped items that weren't there last month.
The solution to efficient inventory counts is to start in an area and go in a systematic way to write down everything you see. For example if I have two shelves in the dry storage, I will start in the top left corner of one shelf and count everything I see in a clockwise motion until I have finished the shelf. Then I continue to the next shelf. I do my whole inventory counts this way. I guarantee by doing it this way you will definitely find items that you usually miss.
Back To The Computer
Once you have finished counting everything take the paper back to your master sheet and input the counts into your spreadsheet. You should have a column for inputting counts. On your master sheet you should have another column called extension where you multiply your count column by your count unit.
Let's take an example from my spreadsheet I attached. Chicken Wings, the price is $5.54 a KG. I would count the wings by weighing the whole lot and placing the amount in the On Hand column. Say we had 10 KG the extension column should read $55.40 (10 KG x $5.54 = $54.40). Now at the bottom of each Food Category you should add all the entries in the extension column. This number will be added with all the other category extension columns to give your inventory number.
Wow That Was Alot
I hope I explained it to you in a way that you all will understand. If you are unsure of how something works or need clarification on anything we dealt with today please don't hesitate to drop me a message on firstname.lastname@example.org . I also challenge Chef's out there that do their inventory counts the conventional way to try it my way and let me know what your comments are. Did it help or make things more difficult?
Until next time...
We will see 'ya on the flip side.