Best Practices for Accepting Inventory Deliveries at Restaurants

1st April 2014
Receiving Inventory

Accepting inventory deliveries are a daily occurrence at many restaurants. There may be large orders once or twice a week, plus milk, bread, soda and seafood showing up throughout each day. Most restaurants have an informal system for accepting these (Steve’s in the back, I’ll get him – he signs for these); standardizing that process can not only save time, but also reduce errors and lower food costs.

Here are 6 Tips for Accepting Inventory Orders

1. Label shelves so that items are put consistently in the same place and staff can easily find them. This makes unpacking an order faster, but also reduces the number of items that are mistakenly ordered when staff believe they’ve run out. In the long run it is a time-saver, as prep and line staff are able to find items more quickly when they are in a hurry.

2. Clean shelves and organize stock areas before orders arrive. Make this part of someone’s weekly (even daily) routine. This will increase the space available to store your new stock and also makes putting new deliveries behind or beneath older inventory easier.

3. Do not count inventory when a delivery is being unloaded and put away. Restaurants are busy places; inevitably trying to take inventory while a delivery is arriving will lead to items being double-counted, or not counted at all. More on best practices for taking inventory here.

4. Use digital ordering and manifests to accept orders more quickly. Doing this ensures your staff are aware of what has been short-shipped and time isn’t wasted looking for items that were not on the truck. Using digital manifests can also automatically add the items you “check-off” to your inventory counts, saving time. More on that here.

5. Use the First In, First Out (FIFO) system. Train all kitchen staff and enforce the policy with routine spot-checks. Ensuring that new inventory is placed behind or below old inventory is one of the most critical ways to ensure this system is followed, thereby reducing the amount of food lost to spoilage.

6. Make it someone’s job to accept inventory. If the same people put the inventory away each week, they’ll be faster doing it. They get to know the delivery people, they are faster at checking on what arrived, they know where to store it and they even know which moving dolly has the good wheels.

Be Consistent When Accepting Deliveries

Food cost is one of the largest variable, controllable costs a restaurant has. A small amount of effort each week can have a big impact on the bottom line. Like most of the easy ways to reduce food and labor costs, the key to success is having a process and following it consistently. Much like every menu item should look the same when it crosses the line, every delivery should be handled the same way when it comes through the back doors.

What procedures have you put in place to improve the accuracy of inventory tracking at your restaurant? Let us know in the comments section below.

Inventory Ebook Leaderboard

Chief Operating Officer at LIVELENZ. Greg began working part-time in restaurants when he was 15 and continued in the industry for a decade. He then began working for technology companies developing a passion for improving operational efficiencies at fast-growing organizations.

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