Management | Menu Management
What's the best method for restaurant inventory management?
Is it a par sheet? An integrated inventory management solution? A pen-and-paper-based way of winging it?
While every restaurateur will fight to the death over which system works best for them, all of them will agree on one thing: food inventory tracking is a huge pain.
In this article, we'll explain how to set up an inventory management system using a series of par sheets.
Read on to learn how to set up a par inventory system, and click here to download restaurant par inventory sheet templates to follow along.
Par inventory is a method of inventory tracking for restaurants.
Decision makers will establish a "par," or a minimum supply required in-store after each food inventory delivery.
Normal par is the amount you expect to have in-house on a given day, so pars can and do change on factors like seasonality, day of the week, weather, parties, events, and more.
The first factor you want to look at when setting par inventory levels is how often you get a menu item delivered. While more perishable foods like bread or produce may be delivered daily, other ingredients like salad dressing or flour may only be delivered once a week.
The more suppliers you have, the longer this process will take, but most restaurateurs have this information documented already. If you're starting from scratch, refer to your order slips and receipts from your suppliers.
Next, determine how much inventory of each food item is depleted between each delivery to set the par order amount.
If your frozen food supplier drops french fries off every Tuesday, your set par level for fries should be your normal weekly usage of fries plus a little extra in case of emergency, spillage, waste, or big orders.
So if you go through 200 french fry orders per week and you'd like a 10% safety net, you would always want enough fries to cover 220 orders of fries after each inventory delivery.
If one bag of fries is enough to provide 10 side orders, your par for french fries would be 22 bags, since 220 orders / 10 orders per bag = 22 bags of fries.
Here's how we got that number:
This is how you set normal par for any food or ingredient in your restaurant.
When you place for your food supply order, compare your actual amount of food with your set par level.
Your par level is not your order amount unless you deplete your entire supply of inventory. Your order amount is what you need to restock and meet par needs.
Let's return to the french fry example where you want 22 bags on hand after each delivery. Maybe last week was slow, so you only went through 17 bags. Whenever you order inventory, you want to start with your par amount (in this case, 22 bags) and subtract your remaining amount (5 bags) to get your inventory order (17 bags).
In this example, 17 bags is the order that should be made in a normal situation, as this will replenish your inventory to the necessary par level of 22 bags.
If you get a catering order a few days out, know that football season brings in the chicken wing crowd, or are told by your suppliers that a big storm may impact food availability, you can absolutely alter your order size.
Maybe next week is National French Fry Day, and so you know you'll need extra inventory to meet the demand of your fry-hungry customers. In that case, order the 17 bags to meet normal demand plus any additional required inventory. If you have a POS system that records your restaurant sales data, you could even go back to last year's sales on National French Fry Day to get an idea of how many extra bags you should get from your supplier.
Par inventory sheets make the process or setting these par levels and determining the minimum order amount simple.
Simply follow the method described above: input your par amounts, remaining inventory, and emergency/events par in the sheets.
The computerized par sheet will do the math for you and the output will be the order amount you ask suppliers for.
Below are some common questions restaurateurs ask about inventory tracking, specifically about par sheets.
There are pros and cons to each, but we suggest computer-based par sheets. Printed par sheets are more portable and can be attached to your clipboard, but you'll have to re-print them every time you have a new inventory order, which could be daily. You could also view the online par sheets on a tablet while you're walking through the back of house.
Even if you print the sheets 100 at a time, that's a lot of wasted money, paper, and ink. Plus, paper sheets are more difficult to change numbers on and don't do the math for you, increasing the chance for human error.
Computer-based par sheets can easily be changed every time you make an inventory order and new numbers can replace old ones. However, unless you have a tablet or laptop, it can be inconvenient to enter the numbers into the computer.
It's important to stick with a system you're comfortable with. If you trust your math skills and don't want to carry a laptop or tablet around, don't let us stop you from sticking with pen and paper.
If you have one supplier (or a supplier that delivers the majority of your food), it would make the most sense to organize a par sheet by food item, not supplier.
This way, when you're looking at one part of the back-of-house, you can stick to one section of the sheet.
If you do have multiple food suppliers, they probably don't all deliver on the same day. If that's the case for your restaurant, we suggest breaking up par sheets by supplier, not by food item. That way, your team can do a sweep of the entire back of the house and take note of which items need a restock depending on which supplier is coming next.
Organizing by supplier is also helpful to ensure order accuracy. Upon delivery, compare your par inventory sheet - which doubles as your ordering template - with your receipt from suppliers to double check accuracy on their end.
Setting par is best practice in the food & beverage industry. It's a simple way of knowing how much to have on hand in your restaurant for peace of mind, organization, and sales forecasting.
That said, there are better ways to do the actual inventory tracking. A restaurant inventory management system tied to your point of sale tracks depletion of every ingredient in real-time. At the end of the day, owners can look at how much inventory was used, compare that number to set par amounts, and make orders based on that data rather than running around from walk-in to walk-in.
Yes! Toast offers free par inventory sheets in the Back of House Guide. Feel free to download!