Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

Better Inventory Management Equals a Better Bottom Line

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Feb, 28, 2011 @ 09:02 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 3 of 6: Good Liquor Inventory Management Improves Cash Flow and Maximizes ProfitsCash Flow

Inventory Levels Affect Cash Flow

The aim is to maintain that fine balance between J. running out and holding too much stock. Get it wrong, and you'll find that your working capital isn't working for you! Remember, the larger your inventory, the more difficult it is to control.

  • Keep inventory at a minimum level. But not so low that you risk running out. Recommended inventory for high-turnover brands is approximate­ly one to two weeks' worth of stock.
  • Jump in with special promotions. If you think you've miscalculated and overstocked, shift the inventory sooner rather than later, while it still has high value.
  • Get to know the drinking patterns of your regular patrons. This information helps you calculate the bar pars or minimum inventory levels for each bar and the main stockroom.
  • The perpetual inventory is a valuable tool. Keeping tabs on the flow of liquor, wines and beverages through your operation is probably the best way of knowing where to pitch inventory levels. Monitor stock daily.
  • Weekly deliveries. In the drinks industry, this is the norm. Work your inventory levels around these weekly deliveries and avoid the cardinal sin of running out.

Manage Your Stock Wisely and Maximize Profits

Your challenge, in a nutshell, is to order liquor, wine and other beverages in the right size and quantity and at the right time and price.

  • Inventory deliveries - timing. Schedule well liquor, beer and house wine deliveries for the same day each week, ideally a couple days after you place the order.
  • Well liquor quantities. Order items with a short turnover rate, such as well liquor, in bulk. Well liquor moves fast, offering you a great opportunity to boost cash flow. Take advantage of case discounts. Also, consider larger 1.75-liter bottles instead of the usual 1-liter bottles if you think your turnover warrants it. There are big savings to be made in this area. Use larger bottles for special promotions.
  • Beer is different. In order to sell beer at its freshest, arrange for deliveries on a weekly basis, or dally, if your establishment has the capacity to cope with the extra workload. Little and often is better when it comes to maximizing on beer profits.
  • Wine. Order house wine weekly, other wine bottles by the case once a month. Only buy special vintage wines once or twice a year. Take a specialist's advice before stocking up on expensive wines. They can cost you dearly.
  • Liquor and liqueurs. The following is a useful guideline: If it takes less than five weeks to turn a product, order by the case. If it takes longer than five weeks to sell a particular brand of spirits, order by the liter.

Topics: Bar inventory, bar inventory levels, Bar Management

Better Inventory Management Equals a Better Bottom Line

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, Feb, 24, 2011 @ 14:02 PM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 2 of 6: Inventory Tracking--Getting Maximum Value Out of Your Stock

Track Inventory - Track CostsLiquor Inventory Tracking

In order to control inventory, you need to know exactly what stock you have/had and where it is or when you sold it (known in the trade as "cradle-to-grave" accounting). To operate a cost-effective tracking procedure, it is crucial that you document all liquor, wines and beverages as they progress through the inventory cycle. Choose whatever tracking method works best for your establishment, but don't think you can do without some form of system. You can't. On a positive note, however, developing such a system is one of the best ways of keeping a tight rein on expenditure. Follow this six-step guideline and you shouldn't go wrong! There are several cheap, off-the-shelf forms that you can use to help you with your record keeping.

  • Step 1: Purchase order. The purchase order is the first form in the cycle. It provides a detailed record of every item purchased.
  • Step 2: Perpetual inventory. This second form tracks the movement of liquor, wines and beverages from the storeroom to various locations within the establishment. It also tracks each product's turnover rate. The perpetual inventory is also used for accounting purposes.
  • Step 3: Requisition form. This records the actual transfer of inventory from the storeroom to a specific location within the operation. This form is also used to record breakage.
  • Step 4: Bar par form. This records the quantity of each brand of liquor, wine or beverage currently stocked behind the bar.
  • Step 5: Depletion allowance form. This form is used to track the amount of spillage and wastage and to record any complimentary drinks.
  • Step 6: Physical inventory form. Used primarily when completing end-of-period accounts, it records the result of physical stock audits.


Monthly and Annual Inventory Control

Daily inventory control is the first, essential step towards keeping costs in check. In fact, no business can function without daily records. But, look ahead. To maximize control of overall costs, establish sound monthly and annual inventory procedures. Drain every dime out of your liquor, wine and beverage inventory -long-term!

  • Monthly inventory. Month-end figures are crucial for determining the financial success of your operation. Devise a simple monthly inventory sheet and use it, without fall.
  • Physical count. Carry out a monthly physical bottle count. Check totals against the perpetual inventory figures.
  • The "Cyclops." This handheld scanner reads the Universal Pricing Code (UPC). It can really speed up the monthly stock check!
  • Weighing scale. Use a precision liquor-weighing scale. These devices are extremely fast and easy to use. They can calculate to within 1/40 of a fluid ounce.
  • Annual inventory. Use annual inventory figures to review overall costs. For example, now is the time to consider price increases or to discontinue lines that are no longer cost-effective.
  • Resolve queries. Merely recording monthly and annual inventory figures is not enough. Resolve any discrepancies immediately. It all adds up!


Topics: inventory, inventory counting, inventory control

Better Inventory Management Equals a Better Bottom Line

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Feb, 21, 2011 @ 09:02 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 1 of 6: Establishing Good General Inventory Procedures Can Reduce Costs

General Inventory ProceduresLiquor inventory costs

Minor overall changes can result in major cost reductions. Take a fresh look at your existing inventory system. In every establishment, there is general room for improvement. For minimum effort, you can get maximum value out of your stock.

  • Timing. Move all drinks to a designated storage area as soon as they arrive. Don't let stock hang around. Drinks (and wine especially) need to be stored in an ambient environment, or their quality can deteriorate rapidly - and so can your profits! Also, unattended drinks, languishing in receiving areas, present a great temptation. Liquor is high on any thief s hit list.

  • Faulty goods. When receiving merchandise, look out for cracked and chipped bottles, mislabeled boxes, outdated or cloudy beer, correct type and vintage of wine, raised corks, leaking and weeping bottles, damaged labels and wrong-size bottles. Contact the supplier immediately about any dis­ crepancies.

  • Storage area. Your storage area must be fit for its purpose. Poor storage conditions can result in poor quality, breakage and escalating costs.

  • Security. Basic, but obvious. A good security system removes temptation and reduces the risk of external break-ins.

  • Rotate stock. First in, first out. This is important and avoids wastage, overstocking and running out. Pay special attention to beers: their shelf-life is limited. Most beverages, also, have no longer than a month before the sell-by date.

  • Control. Large or small, every drinks outlet needs some form of control procedure. Track your products from the moment they arrive at your premises to when they are sold. While this doesn't have to be complicated, the key to any good control system is to make sure that all the liquors, wines and beverages are located in the right place at the right time and are being rotated properly.

Make the Most of Your Storage Areas

Where and how you store your liquor, wines and beverages can make a big difference in turnover and profits. Once you have taken delivery, treat your inventory with respect - it has the potential to make or break your business.
  • Location. Define storage areas. Are you using the most convenient areas for storage? Rethink. Centrally located storerooms and walk-in coolers make ideal storage areas. Easy access saves time and money.
  • Other storage areas. "Storage" means more than an area for dumping received goods! Storage locations include shelves, workstations, reach-in refrigerators and behind the bar. Keep all these areas accessible and clutter-free. It speeds up your operation and reduces breakage.
  • High-value wines. Consider separate cellaring for prestige wines, somewhere away from the busy "shop floor" environment. As turnover of such wines is slower, accessibility is not top priority. More important is security and perfect storage conditions (even vibrations can affect the quality of good wines!).
  • Extra security. All drinks should be stored in a secure area. Organize the layout of storage areas to offer maximum security for liquor and high-value wines. Only personnel who need keys should have them.
  • Quantity. Drinks can be stored in bulk in the main storage area. Drinks in general storage areas, such as behind the bar, are better stored in the units or quantities in which they are sold.
  • Environment. Know your product and store it accordingly. Maintain proper temperatures, humidity and ventilation. Wine is particularly sensitive to environmental influences. It can easily absorb odors from nearby food storage areas. Poor storage practices can quickly reduce the quality of stored inventory - and nothing affects profits like quality!

Topics: Bar inventory, Liquor cost, inventory counting

Establishing Effective Purchasing & Receiving Strategies

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Feb, 14, 2011 @ 10:02 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 7 of 7: Reduce Purchase Costs

reduce purchase costsThe purchasing department is the linchpin when it comes to reducing costs. It is much easier to control costs in this area than anywhere else in the operation. The bottom line is that astute buying techniques offer the best opportunity for a business to increase its overall profits.

  • Monitor market trends. An upsurge in popularity of a certain beverage can lead to increased competition amongst vendors. Play them off against each other occasionally. Negotiate. You have nothing to lose!
  • Welcome new ideas. Purchasers should always be on the lookout for new ideas and new ways of reducing costs. Don't close your door to sales rep­resentatives. They may genuinely have something of interest to your establishment. Consider their promotional discounts.
  • "Opportunity buys." Don't rule them out. Take a look at items that may soon be discontinued or overstocked merchandise where a supplier has simply miscalculated demand. You could make big savings.
  • Cooperative purchasing. Consider "pool" purchasing with other enterprises. It can give you added purchasing power.
  • Change purchase unit size. Buy drinks in larger volumes. This can trim costs considerably, particu­larly in the case of liquor purchases where sell-by dates tend to be more generous.
  • Place multiple orders. Consider buying your full range of drinks from one wholesaler. It may offer you amazing reductions, especially if it's keen to do business with you on a repeat basis.

Topics: liquor inventory, inventory managers, Bar inventory, liquor purchasing, managing liquor inventory cost, bar business, Bar Management, Liquor Inventory savings, inventory control, managing liquor costs

Establishing Effective Purchasing & Receiving Strategies

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, Feb, 09, 2011 @ 15:02 PM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 6 of 7: Purchasing Specifications and Set Standards

inventory standardsAs a purchasing manager, it is important to set standards. Decide up front exactly what types of drinks you need to purchase and the conditions under which you will place an order. These are your purchase specifications.

  • Consult fellow members of staff. Their input is important. Of course you want them on your side, but oftentimes, it is they who know best what will sell (and what won't!).
  • Purchase specifications must reflect the image of your establishment. Consider your target audience, the standards it demands and the price it is prepared to pay.
  • Keep a written copy. It represents your establish­ment's overall purchasing standards and rules. It doesn't have to be a lengthy document; a few bulleted points will do.
  • Purchase specifications should focus on the following areas: quality, quantity, consistency, reliability of vendors and availability of merchandise.
  • Document your purchase specifications to vendors. Vendors need to be reminded of the standards you expect from them. Specs are also useful in the event of a dispute.
  • Back up your purchase specification document with an additional product information list. Tabulate the information in chart format. Include information such as brand, country of origin, alcohol content (where applicable) and, in the case of wines, year and vintage. Use it to jog your memory when writing out purchase orders or placing orders by phone. This type of handy list can also help you spot "substitutes" when you receive the goods!

Topics: profit, controling costs, purchasing, inventory control

Establishing Effective Purchasing & Receiving Strategies

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Feb, 07, 2011 @ 10:02 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 5 of 7: Streamline Your Receiving Procedures

describe the imageThis area of purchasing offers a great scope for cost reductions. Unfortunately, it is often neglected. Do so at your peril! Many well-devised purchasing plans fall at this last hurdle. Don't marginalize this important procedure.

  • Check merchandise thoroughly. Even when you are in a hurry, it is vital to check all received merchandise carefully. It may be your only (and last) chance to identify problems. Most vendors have a time limit written into their contracts for notifying them of discrepancies and shortages.
  • Adopt a "checklist" approach. The person receiving the merchandise needs to do the following:

-Verify the supplier

-Check quality

-Check quantity

-Check price (if applicable)

-Note any discrepancies on the receiving note

-Sign and date, only when satisfied with the above


  • Follow up any queries. Contact the vendor (preferably in writing), outlining any shortages, discrepancies or other problems, immediately. Most problems are quickly resolved. But stating your dissatisfaction, in writing, is a wise move. Sometimes queries become wrangles and you can end up with a long, drawn-out dispute on your hands. It's good to have something in writing!
  • Tie up paperwork. Tedious, but important! The person who receives the goods or a designated member of staff needs to mark all invoices with some form of "Received" stamp, noting the date of receipt and who received the merchandise.
  • Introduce a random audit of your receiving process. Identify any problem areas before they get out of hand! A basic audit should compare quantity and quality of merchandise delivered with the original purchase order. Carry out a volume or unit count of liquor, wines and beverages. Also, double-check that cases contain the number of bottles stated on the "outer." Finally, check that all documentation has been accurately processed.

Topics: profit, purchasing, inventory control

Establishing Effective Purchasing & Receiving Strategies

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, Feb, 02, 2011 @ 14:02 PM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 4 of 7: Simplify Purchasing Procedures and Define Duties

Keep Purchasing Procedures SimpleInventory Inspection Checklist sm

Whatever the size of your operation, certain repetitive purchasing procedures are unavoidable. At the very minimum, a buyer has to complete a purchasing requisition, a purchase order, a shipping instruction, a receiving report and carry out some form of quality control. Purchasing procedures, however, exist for a good reason. Save time, effort and money by simplifying them.

  • Change your attitude. Instead of viewing purchasing procedures as an irritation, think of them as a support system. Accurate documentation in this area has rescued many a business  from the jaws of liquidation.
  • Concentrate on basics. Buyers should always have adequate purchasing procedures in place. The key, however, is to avoid overkill. If a certain procedure in the buying cycle is irrelevant to your establishment, get rid of it. A written requisition, for example, may not be necessary if you regularly "call off stock ordered on a contract basis. Adapt and be flexible.
  • The purchasing requisition. Save time. Establish a pared-down requisition procedure that identifies ongoing requirements and automatically triggers the purchasing cycle.
  • The purchase order. No skimping here! The purchase order is a legal contract between purchaser and vendor. Even in small organiza­tions, the purchase order needs to be put in writing. Get it right. It can save time, hassle and money in the long run. A computer-generated purchase order considerably reduces human error.
  • The shipping instruction. Keep it simple. This piece of documentation is merely a confirmation of instructions from the buyer to the seller. Whether handwritten or computerized, the shipping instruction needs only to contain simple information. It should include the purchase order number for the shipment, and it, too, should be numbered for record-keeping purposes.
  • The receiving report. Again, simplify. Although an important document in the purchasing cycle, it only needs to contain basic information: the quantity and condition of the merchandise, whether the merchandise tallies with the original purchase order, a record of stock shortages, the recipient's signature and the date of receipt.

Define Your Purchasing Duties

It is all too easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day activities of purchasing. Remind yourself, occasionally, of your areas of responsibility. It helps you to focus on doing a good job.

  • Don't lose sight of your overall goal. Your responsibility, as a purchasing manager, is to maximize value so that your establishment gets the most for its money. No more, no less.
  • The cycle of duties. Always bear in mind that a purchaser's areas of responsibility cover an entire cycle of activities: identifying the needs of the establishment, planning, sourcing merchandise, purchasing, receiving, storing and issuing.
  • Control. Effective management and control of the purchasing cycle, with a constant eye on costs, is your number-one duty.
  • Dealing with vendors. The purchasing department (even if you are a one-man band) is responsible for all external dealings with vendors. The purchaser should be able to handle all vendor-related queries.
  • Avoid taking your purchasing problems onto the "shop floor." Front-of-house personnel will not appreciate interruptions while they are trying to please customers. Apart from emergencies, keep all purchasing queries for later.
  • High standards. It is the purchaser's duty to make sure that all merchandise purchased is fit for its purpose and of a consistently high quality. High standards = good value.

Topics: liquor inventory, inventory managers, Bar inventory, liquor purchasing, Lineup control, Bar Management, bar control, inventory counting, purchasing, inventory control