The process can be complicated. Especially for a kitchen.

If you own or manage a restaurant, what’s your most important food management technology?

Building the best food recipes? Promoting your amazing food and restaurant on Facebook? What about controlling your kitchen’s food inventory?

It’s the least sexy part of being a chef or managing a kitchen program, but without efficient inventory, ordering and invoicing controls and processes behind the scenes, it’s difficult to run a successful restaurant.

Understanding exactly how to do food inventory is the first step.

Next, you’ll need to keep an organized record of your orders and invoices—of everything you bought and sold, and when.

However, ordering and invoicing for a business is complicated. Especially for a kitchen.

It involves endless paper trails, a high volume and variety of product flow, fluctuating ingredient prices, and the need to coordinate with many different people. Some kitchen managers use traditional pen-and-paper methods, and others make it easier with inventory management software.

To shed some light on the complexities of kitchen management, which include learning how to manage invoicing and ordering for your kitchen, let’s get down to business.

Ordering for a Kitchen

After counting your food inventory and determining your usage, it’s time to put together that order.

Take the invoices from all of last week’s orders and enter them into the excel sheet that contains your usage totals. You’ll compare this usage to last week’s invoices, and determine how much product you went through versus what you took in.

Once you have compared the numbers, go through and create your new order totals, looking at what you have in-house versus what you should have for the next day or week. You should be able to check your pars, daily or weekly, to determine what next week’s order totals should be (find out how to set pars here).

Sort through each food category and create order totals for each type.

Stop. Review the totals, and ask yourself if you really need all that product. Always consider ways to reduce your food inventory to avoid spoilage or other waste.

Once you’re satisfied with the order, segment the totals into distributor categories.

Now it’s time to call in each order to your reps. Allow enough time to get those orders in before the deadline or any cutoff that might affect your day’s service, and avoid surrendering to any upsells they offer; you probably don’t need this extra product—it’s usually unnecessary spend and increases the risk  of  spoilage or other loss.

When the food orders are delivered, check the invoice sheet against the delivered product and make sure the numbers match. Identify any discrepancies, and save these invoices for next week, filing appropriately.

How to Manage Your Kitchen’s Invoices

An important part of taking food inventory is knowing how much product you’ve used (or lost) during a given period. But without keeping track of your invoices and comparing them to your usage and sales data—which we’ll look at in part 3 of this blog series—you won’t know what was sold and when.

Without a visible invoice history, it will be impossible to track whether or not product has been sold, gone missing, spoiled, or been given away for free. You won’t be able to monitor food costs or easily calculate recipe costs.

Kitchen managers need to adequately control their invoicing process for the following reasons:

  • Tracking accurate ingredient costs
  • Setting appropriate pars for all products
  • Calculating and managing food costs
  • Lowering sitting inventory
  • Preventing spoilage or other waste

There’s no easy way to track a paper trail of invoices. Unless you invest in ordering and invoicing software that’ll do it for you, it’s simply going to take time and organizational controls. We generally recommend filing invoices in date order, and then alphabetically by distributor. But if you can further categorize them by food type, you’ll save some extra time. This way, when you’re comparing invoices with the PMIX report from your POS, you’ll have the most recent invoices clearly categorized and readily available.

Without an organized and efficient invoicing system, it’s impossible to keep track of your sales history, of what you used and how much, of what worked and what didn’t. This information is crucial to better managing your sitting inventory, pars, orders, and profitability in the future.

Expert Takes, Feature, Finance