Cafe Entrepreneurship

Fresh Start, Fresh Inventory: Cafe Edition

coffee with a person writing

The first few months of the year are the perfect time for a fresh start! That applies even to your business (or your soon-to-be cafe). Create a fresh, clean slate by learning how to organize your inventory!

That doesn’t sound fun for some people, though. Because it could be a tedious job! Especially if you’re starting from scratch, or if a messy 2021 inventory was turned over to you! Not everyone finds organizing a fun use of time. Unless you or your staff are professionally trained to do it, it’s another task to train and learn.

But! (exclamation point intended) It’s necessary for a flourishing business especially for us in the food and beverage industry! Our items are mostly perishable. So, for a business to continue profiting and avoid wasting resources, it’s important that we keep track of our stockroom both perishable and consumable items.  As entrepreneurs, we don’t want money, time, and effort to go down the drain. And as coffee lovers, disappointing fellow coffee lovers is the last thing we’d ever want. 

Having too much of what’s unnecessary and so less of pantry essentials will harm our business operations. In the process, we tend to purchase the essentials we previously under-ordered. In short, we put time and energy into a task that should have been finished already, and less on daily cafe responsibilities that should be focused on. 

Let’s say no to spoilage and spillage! Read on!

  1. Take charge, boss!

It’s the cafe business of your dreams, and now you’re living it. 

As the boss, you need to know how to do inventory by yourself. In its simplest sense, you can think of inventory as asking the questions of how many, how much, and when. You can skim the following questions as examples for inventory checking:

  • How many X items did I previously purchase?
  • How much did I pay for the X items?
  • When is the expiration date for these?
  • How many X items are just enough to stock without wasting so much?
  • When should I replenish stocks for X items?
  • How much did I save from doing the previous inventory checking?

Having the right mindset and motivation to do it makes the task a bit easier. Be more hands-on in monitoring your business, boss!

It can start with organizing your stockroom first so you can avoid making the process an unmanageable knot. Prevent mistakes such as inaccuracies in checking because items in your cafe stockroom are not visible enough! Classify the items– perishable, consumable, among others. And make sure to situate them where they should be, making sure they’re in the right temperature to keep the freshness or a shelf where you can get new stocks efficiently. If you need a properly-planned shelves installation, then you can do so!

  1. Delegate

Now that you know how, you can also assign inventory to one person. Choose a trustworthy staff so that you‘d be offloaded with this task. You don’t have to carry all of it, boss!

Just make sure to designate this to a few people as possible. It’s advantageous to track inventory when there’s only one or a few doing it. You don’t only help yourself by checking the logistics of your business, but the assigned person may just have an easier time handling it because they already know what they’re doing. They can look at nuances, inconsistencies, and patterns in the inventory! Give this task to your regular and trustworthy staff if you have too many tasks in your hands. 

If you see that it’s a bit hard to designate a person, you can consider adding incentives in your next business planning!

  1. Check the time

Time is gold! So schedule your inventories– whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly– and you might just be surprised with the difference this can make in your business. 

Check the lifespan of your stockroom items as well, such as expiration dates, freshness (or lack thereof), and the rate of product consumption in a given time period. For example, non-perishables can be checked once every two weeks, whereas perishable ones should be checked much more often than that. This organized scheduling will keep your daily operations smoother and fuss-free.

Once inventory is done, schedule placing orders, deliveries, and pick-ups from suppliers. When you do, you can concentrate on other tasks in your list of to-dos. This prevents staff from rummaging through the stockroom during busy store hours. Maybe before closing the week, during a slow time, or just assign an extra day so it’s updated and you can avoid unnecessary panicking!

  1. Do FIFO or FEFO.

Organization using labels, dispensers, tags, and other containers can help you follow FIFO (First In, First Out) or FEFO (First Expiring, First Out). 

Organize it in a way you can track if the items are new and fresh. Consume fresher ones rather than items that’ve been stuck in the corner of the stockroom for months, regardless of the expiry date. First In, First Out. Don’t mix them up! 

Most importantly, get rid of expired items. This should go without saying, but unfortunately, it sometimes gets missed. You don’t only prevent the unfortunate consequences\, but you can also make up more space for newer stock items!

  1. Log and track food waste

In the case of inventory, food waste– whether thrown away due to spoilage or due to error–should be tracked. Doing so can help you devise new plans and discuss creative solutions to prevent food wastage from happening.

  1. Review and analyze inventories

There’s no use doing inventory when you don’t review and produce helpful insights after. Your past inventories can highlight patterns that can help you make good decisions about your business over the course of the next months. Don’t forget to study your past inventories, boss. This way, you can prevent food waste, as well as wasted money, time, and effort. 

Maintain the momentum

You do not only prevent the stress from under-ordering and unfortunate customer complaints. Inventory can surely help maintain the momentum. Furthermore, increase the sales of your business and boost the livelihood of your staff. 

You’ll be reaping what you sow in no time. 

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