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People think I'm crazy when I preach about weekly inventory. Imagine what they'd think if I told them to take daily inventory!  But this is a great way to observe sales trends and to hold staff accountable.

But that's exactly what I recommend for restaurants. It's a very simple system that yields giant results — lower food cost due to less waste, reduced theft, improved product rotation, and improved food quality. All you need is a clipboard and a pen. If you have only one cost control system in your entire restaurant, this should be it.

When conducting a daily inventory you count only center of the plate items. Let's pretend to count stuffed pork chops to see how it's done:

Q: How many you will need for each shift?
A: 10

Q: How many you have on hand when you start the shift?
A: 2

Q: How many do you need to prep to cover the shift?
A: 8

Q: How many did you sell during the shift?
A: 6

Q: How many did you have left at the end of the shift?
A: 3

Q: How many should you have according to the POS report?
A: 4

Oops, we're missing a pork chop. You'll need to find it, but first I want to congratulate you on knowing that it's missing! You can't fix something if you don't know something's wrong to begin with.

Now, where is that pork chop? It could have been a return, a misfire, a mistake. An employee could have eaten it for dinner and forgotten to write it down. It could have been stolen. Eventually, you'll figure it out. But the sloppiness will stop when people have to be accountable.

You'll also be able to observe sales trends that affect food cost. For example: Are you prepping too many on Tuesday? Are you selling out early on Friday and Saturday? Do you throw product away on Monday morning? Now that you see the problem, you can adjust accordingly.

We've provided a downloadable Daily Food Inventory & Reconciliation Form to get you started. You can make a big impact on your costs if you don't sweat the small stuff when it comes to keeping track of the big stuff.

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