Common Bar Inventory Mistakes

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// By Jordan Brydges // , Sep 27, 2019

Topics: Bar Inventory

"I'm sorry we are out of that."  There is nothing worse than going to a bar and they are out of what you wanted.  As a restaurant owner, it's frustrating to see unhappy customers over something like lack of inventory. Do you constantly find yourself out of products or wonder why you have a million bottles of something on your shelves waiting to be used?  It is probably because you are mismanaging your liquor inventory, which can be extremely costly and lead to unhappy customers. Thankfully, this can be fixed and the results will blow your mind (and help keep customers coming back).   


Taking correct bar inventory is important for running your business because it will help you to:

  • Measure your financial performance

  • Identify any shrinkage

  • Establish the minimum amount of inventory needed

  • Keep track of popular selling items

  • Price drinks effectively   


Obviously, mistakes will happen along the way but trying to cut down on them will save your bottom line.  Below we will go over some common mistakes when it comes to taking inventory so you can avoid them. 


Common Bar Inventory Mistakes 


Not Taking Inventory 


This shouldn't even be a mistake, but, unfortunately, it is.  Not taking inventory will cost you more time and money because without a system in place how do you know how much product to order?  Not enough stock and you make customers unhappy, too much stock you are a money pit and products can go to waste from sitting on the shelves.  


Choosing the Wrong Method 


Figure out the most effective way to do inventory for your bar or restaurant.  Are you going to use the pen and paper method or use an inventory app?  An inventory platform can provide you with so much more information than an Excel spreadsheet, by saving time, money, effort, and limiting mistakes.


Download Bar and Liquor Inventory Spreadsheet


No Routine


Pick the order in which you want to take inventory and what works best for you and stick to it.  Is it starting in your storage room and working your way to the front bar or vice versa and waiting until customers are out to count the front bar for more accuracy?  Whichever way flows best for you stick to it and create a routine. 




How often do you want to take inventory?  In your head you are probably saying "never," that is not an option, well, it is but not a good one.  How frequent you take inventory varies depending on the situation and the size of you bar.  The more you keep up with and track your inventory the more you will know what is on your shelves, which will save money so you are not overstocking. Idealy, the answer would probably be once a week, but once a month is probably more common and the minimum.    


Get the Right People Involved 


Often times managers think they need to take matters into their own hands and put an unnecessary amount of work on themselves.  It's always better to cross your t's and dot your i's and having another set of eyes on things can help with making errors.  You should pick a couple employees or managers to help with inventory to spread the workload, but having too many people involved can get messy.  




You might think, "If I order a lot of this now I won't have to do it for a while." Wrong.  Ordering too much of a product leads to profit loss because you have products taking up valuable space on your shelves that are not being used.  Sure liquor might not expire so you might wonder what the harm is but what about juices and mixers?  Having money tied up in your shelves is money you cannot use elsewhere.  


Not Using KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) 


Key performance indicators are performance measurements that allow you to quantify your current performance, compare against past performance, and forecast to adjust for improvements.  There are various KPIs you can use to measure the health of your bar, but with the help of Backbar you don't have to do it alone.  Using KPIs keeps you totally aware of everything going on for your bar program so you can achieve your goals.    

Automate inventory with the Square sync for Backbar

Jordan Brydges

About the author, Jordan Brydges

Jordan is a marketing intern at Backbar and a business student studying marketing. She has been working in the restaurant industry for 8 years and developed a passion for cooking and a love of red wine.

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