When it comes to choosing an inventory control system, there are several important features to look for.
Data access: “Real time centralized data is a must in today’s world. There’s no reason not to have that,” says Sue Dickson, Director of MenuLink products with Radiant Systems. This is especially important for restaurants with multiple locations that need to report back to a central office.
Ease of use: Get recommendations from experienced restaurant managers and test out trial versions of software solutions. Multilin-gual support can be an important consideration.
Flexibility: Look for inventory control software that can be customized to fit with the way your staff already organizes the food supply.
Scalability: If you’re in growth mode, you need software that will grow with you. Indies and startups may want software that is available as a complete restaurant management solution that includes a POS system. Chains may need software that interfaces easily with an existing POS system.
Here are some inventory control software suggestions based on specific restaurant needs:
For basic recipe costing: TracRite OC Lite (tracrite.net). OC Lite keeps it simple by handling food and recipe costing. It’s a stripped down version of the more fully featured OC Pro system. It can still handle monthly and daily order sheets for suppliers and provides theoretical usage information to help you use your recipes effectively. A free trial is available.
For a pizzeria: SpeedLine Inventory (speedlinesolutions.com). This program is geared specifically for pizza restaurants. Setup involves entering recipes and product costs. The software then tracks ideal usage to help identify problems with over-portioning, employee theft and food waste.
For a small chain: MenuLink Back Office Assistant (menulink.net). MenuLink’s full-featured inventory control system can be tied in with an overall POS and back office system for a solution that covers all of a restaurant’s inventory, labor and POS needs. It can connect and interface with a variety of POS platforms.
For bar control: Bevinco (bevinco.com). For bar owners and managers that don’t have time to tackle their own inventory, Bevinco is a franchise with several hundred locations that can handle that task for you. Armed with high sensitivity scales and laptops, they inventory your liquor supplies, calculate ideal usage, compare to actual sales and track down variances to cut down on common problems like overpouring.
For a handheld solution: HandGuard by CostGuard (costguard.com). The PalmOS-based addition to the CostGuard system lets you put handhelds into action to streamline the inventoryprocess and cut out handwritten count sheets. Inventory data is input into the handheld and then synced up with a computer running CostGuard inventory control software. Handheld solutions are not widespread, but expect them to pick up steam as more restaurants take to the timesaving technology.