Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

Establishing Effective Purchasing & Receiving Strategies

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Jan, 31, 2011 @ 11:01 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 3 of 7: Securing Purchasing Procedures

A Good Purchasing Security System Can Save You Big BucksLocking down bar costs

Build security into your purchasing procedures. The choiceof security system, however, depends a lot upon the size of your operation. If you are the "head cook and bottle washer" of a small establishment, security is a much simpler issue. If, however, you are part of a larger enterprise where a number of personnel are involved in purchasing, then security becomes a major concern. If this is your lot, give the following issues serious consideration:

  • Set up a reliable purchasing control system. Whether your chosen system is manually operated or computerized, it must be free from loopholes. 
  • Beware of bogus documentation. Make sure that routine purchasing procedures are accurately documented from start to finish. Attention to detail in this area will help alert you to breaches of security. Be constantly on the lookout for
    calculation "errors," deliberate duplication, "incorrect" invoices and bogus credit requests. These are all common ploys used by unscrupulous purchasers and vendors.
  • Beware of the possibility of kickbacks. Some buyers have been known to "work" with suppliers in return for benefits such as money or gifts. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. Such "practiced" buyers and sellers are often masters of disguise, so don't be green, be keen!
  • Beware of purchaser theft. This can take several forms. Purchasers may order merchandise for their own personal use or they may buy wholesale with the intent to "selling on." A carefully designed purchasing system will take care of most of these problems.

Topics: liquor purchasing, Liquor Inventory savings, purchasing, managing liquor costs

Establishing Effective Purchasing & Receiving Strategies

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Jan, 24, 2011 @ 15:01 PM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 2 of 7: Buy Quality

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The quality of the merchandise purchased sets the tone and standards for the whole establishment. Don't leave quality to chance. Mistakes can be expensive. Word spreads fast and you want a good reputation!

  • Be up-front about quality. Make a conscious decision to purchase "quality" merchandise at the stage when the goals of the business are being established.
  • The products you are buying must be suitable for their intended use. Studies have proven that the more suitable a product, the higher its quality. Make sure that the quality of any product measures up to the needs of your establishment.
  • Quality must apply throughout the establish­ment. When it comes to quality, don't concentrate on alcohol beverages alone. Of course the types of wines, spirits, beers and liqueurs you sell are all crucially important; but don't forget the non­alcoholic beverages, such as quality coffee and soft drinks. Consumers in this sector of the market are a discerning and vociferous bunch! Something as simple as a poor cup of coffee can drive a customer away, never to return.
  • Don't compromise on quality. Don't be distracted by poor-quality "offers" or bulk buys that you think, on the spur of the moment, might just "do." They won't. You'll end up regretting the purchase.
  • Evaluate each product's quality in relation to cost. The most expensive product is not necessarily the best product for your enterprise. When making purchasing decisions, there is no need to sacrifice quality.
  • Look at quality from a clientele perspective. What level of quality do your guests expect? Meet their requirements.
  • Review your vendors for quality. Do you suffer from wastage due to poor quality products? Assess the quality level of potential vendors by first asking for samples. Document quality specifications to vendors. It is important to avoid misunderstand­ings.


Topics: liquor inventory, inventory managers, Bar inventory, bar inventory levels, liquor purchasing, bar business, Bar Management, Bar products, inventory control, managing liquor costs

Establishing Effective Purchasing & Receiving Strategies

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, Jan, 19, 2011 @ 12:01 PM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 1 of 7: Customize a Buying Strategy That Reduces Costs and Controls Inventory

Controlling Liquor, Wine and Beverage Costs

Do you have a purchasing strategy? If not, you need one - NOW! It's never too late. A good buying plan is one of the quickest (and easiest) ways to reduce costs and make sure that your establishment gets the most for its money. Remember, the best place to control costs is in the purchasing department. The plan doesn't have to be complicated - just well thought out and straight­forward to implement. A few bulleted points will do. Keep your plan simple and stick to it.

  • Use a simple five-prong purchasing strategy.

You want to buy:

  • The right product
  • Of the right quality
  • At the right price
  • At the right time
  • From the right source

  • Think of purchasing as a cycle, not a one-off  activity. Purchasing is not just a matter of  phoning or e-mailing through another order. You  don't want to run out, nor do you want to  overstock.
  • Purchasing is not a separate activity. What, how and when you buy must always (yes, always!) reflect the overall goals of your establishment. Trends change - so must you, the purchaser.
  • Commit your purchasing strategy in writing. Write your plan down on paper; save it on your computer, or any place where it is easily accessible. You never know when other members of staff will need to deputize.
  • Step back. Get an overview. Ask yourself whether you're buying on the basis of long-term fixed prices  or current market prices. You should be doing both.

Tighten Up Your Purchasing Procedures

Although it's not always the easiest thing to do when you're busy, the introduction of even a few basic "tightening up" procedures can make the purchasing manager's life a whole lot easier - and reduce costs!

  • Use your written purchasing strategy as a step-by-step guide. It saves time and money in the long  run. Even if you are 100 percent familiar with your establishment's current purchasing procedures, it's all too easy to overlook a crucial link in the procedure and end up wasting time backtracking  or duplicating effort.
  • Reassess your timing techniques. Timing is crucial. Tune in to the drinks' market price fluctuations. The wine industry in particular is prone to seasonal fluctuations. Also consider the bulk  buying of soft drinks in anticipation of the summer season.
  • Review your purchasing schedule regularly. Consumption of liquor, wines and beverages fluctuates, from month to month and year to year. A buying pattern that worked well last year may be be way off the mark today. Consider whether it is better to buy daily, weekly, or in the case of certain drinks, monthly.
  • Take a fresh look at the layout of your purchase order. Is it accurately laid out, and are your instructions easy to follow? Remove any ambiguity - and remove the unnecessary hassle of processing "returns."
  • Check out your vendors. Do they have a good track record for quality and reliability? Are they easy to deal with when things go wrong? Update your vendor contact list regularly, and always remain alert to possible new suppliers. Keep existing vendors on their toes!


This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company


Topics: purchasing, inventory control, managing liquor costs