How to manage your season inventory
Restaurant operators looking to reduce their supply chain costs during the holiday season should plan early for their LTO and traditional menu ingredients. Additionally, operators should think about having a holiday-themed LTO, provided the menu items fall in line with the restaurants’ core offering rather than a trend.
Tim Campbell, a supply chain specialist with Consolidated Concepts explains that there is no reason why operators should step away from their core menu items based on a trend within the industry at the moment. The holidays are stressful enough so adding steps for new menu items or not training staff on the operational side builds additional pressure for the staff and the entire experience. Understand what your brand is and its core values and stay within those strengths.
To better the experience, operators should consider what each location can handle during the holiday season.
It's important that whatever LTO operators are promoting makes sense for the demographic they are trying to reach and for where the location is based. Know your demographics and then make a plan for your holiday offerings. Consider what works in each region. What's going to sell in the Midwest may not sell in the Southeast.
To further prepare for the holiday season, here are some tips for restaurant operators looking to maximize sales and decrease costs:
1. Don’t overextend your team with complex LTO’s during the holidays. Holiday times usually mean higher demands on your staff. Limit the inclusion of complex menu items that could add too much pressure to prep-staff.
2. Try to find multiple uses for current ingredients in LTO items. This will limit dead stock inventory.
3. Remember your brand’s core values; don’t add an LTO just because it's trendy. Play to your strengths and what your guests know you for.
4. Ensure that LTO information is passed down to the store level, and give your team the training and confidence to produce and sell your LTO.
5. Research and forecast sales volumes before committing to product volume. Do this on items that will be exclusive to the LTO, or, discover a way to cross use leftover inventory for other menu items.
6. Know the lead time and minimum requirements if you need to order more inventory to support the LTO. You many need to make a decision to run short or run long on the promotion based on how much inventory you have.
7. Make sure that items which are limited to a specific season or holiday are “reserved” well in advance since many products are only available for a very short time, or where retail is given preference on inventory, like turkeys, pumpkin filling, holiday candy, and desserts. High demand will drive up price and limit available inventory the longer you wait.
8. Seasonal LTO’s should stay seasonal. In other words, don’t expect the LTO to sell well outside of the holiday. By only offering it for a short period of time, you create excitement with customers that “can’t wait” until the LTO is available again. It may also get them to visit your restaurant again if they haven’t been there in a while.
Wade Winters is the vice president of supply chain for Consolidated Concepts Inc. and has held this position since November 2014. Wade is responsible for identifying sourcing opportunities for clients and affiliates, monitoring market trends and commodities, and negotiating contracts. Previously, he was vice president of supply chain for Au Bon Pain, a position he held from 2005 to 2014. Wade earned his B.S. Degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management from the University of Wisconsin, Stout. He is a certified purchasing manager through the Institute for Supply Management, and he also served as treasurer and executive committee member for the National Restaurant Association, Supply Chain Management Executive Study Group.