Inventory Management Tips To Help Your Food Service Operation Stay Organized

Inventory management is one of the most important roles in any food service operation. Accurate records and accounting of purchased goods and products on hand will streamline your business, save you money and grow your profits. We spoke with several business owners and managers, representing small businesses to contracted corporate operations, about their best practices. Here are some of their top tips.


Inventory Management Tips To Help Your Food Service Operation Stay Organized

Keeping organized is the first line of defense in building a solid and successful inventory system.

  • Labeled and Designated Shelving – Take time to build organized storage areas. Label each shelf with the item/product name. Then create shelf sheets that detail where you store inventory items. Your stocking and receiving employees can use this for reference.
  • FIFO and Dating – Make sure you train your employees on First In First Out policies. Have all items dated to insure compliance and proper stock rotation.
  • Keep it Clean – Make sure  you clean storage areas regularly. Schedule walk-in storage cleanings daily and dry/chemical storage weekly (or as needed).
  • Identify Dead Stock – If there are any items that are not turning over or being used frequently these items should be identified and utilized.


 Inventory Management Tips To Help Your Food Service Operation Stay Organized

How often should businesses conduct inventory? Here is what our experts had to say…

  • Weekly: You should count high cost or theft risk items (such as alcohol) on a weekly basis. Also, when changing menu items and bringing in new stock items to make sure food cost calculations are accurate.
  • Monthly: You need to count all food, dry storage, paper storage and chemical items monthly.
  • Yearly: All smallwares, glassware, flatware, servingware, cookware and small equipment should be counted yearly.

New Technology

 Inventory Management Tips To Help Your Food Service Operation Stay Organized

There are several inventory systems geared at food service operations. Here are some of the best programs to help businesses manage their books.

  • ChefTEC- a fully integrated food service software program. ChefTEC uses your recipes and menu to develop inventory sheets with full financial back of the house accounting.
  • CBORD- a fully supported software platform perfect for businesses of large scale (corporate dining, hospitals and campus dining). Techs assist with onsite set up and customized programming for your unique business.
  • Compeat- Great all inclusive ‘soup to nuts’ software perfect for restaurants. Easy to use, complete with mobile inventory tablets and total financial reporting on-demand.
  • Restaurant365 is the affordable small business solution to inventory management. Easy to use, easy to install and fully integrated to existing systems or all in one support.


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Patterson Watkins

Patterson Watkins

Professional Chef/Recipe Development/Nutrition Expert/Food Photography

Patterson Watkins is a freelance recipe developer and industry consultant. She has dedicated over 15 years to food service management, encompassing restaurants and corporate dining. Patterson’s work has been featured in Taste of Home, Better Homes and Gardens, American Lifestyle and Urban Outfitters. For more information about Patterson and her work please visit