For those who haven't ever worked in a bar, it can be all too easy to assume that owning or managing an establishment is just one big party. Everyone just hangs out and does shots with customers, right? You know better. In fact, you have probably spent hours in the stock room counting bottles for inventory long past closing the door behind your last patron.
The difference between working at a bar and managing a profitable bar can come down to inventory. Having too much on hand can eat away at profits; skimping on taking inventory can also set you up for failure. Ultimately, the task could be one of the most monotonous and important aspects of running a bar. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to organize your stock room and streamline the inventory process.
1. Find an organizational method that works for you and stick to it.
Being consistent in where you place bottles will help employees to find them more quickly during service hours. One tip is to store wine bottles in the same order that they appear on the menu. This will help bartenders get used to the menu and be able to provide fast and efficient service. You won't have to worry about an employee disappearing into the stockroom during peak hours to hunt down a certain bottle.
When it comes time to take inventory, this same organizational approach can save you time. It also helps if you start at the same spot every time and work your way around in the same direction. Having a tried a true method will remove any guesswork and jump start the whole process.
2. Label your shelves.
Some simple shelving labels can go a long way to helping the liquor room stay organized and remind everyone that each bottle has a place. It makes the most sense to create storage sections based on the type of liquor. All the vodkas should be grouped together, etc.
3. Avoid making your storage room do double duty.
In addition to liquor, wine and beer, there are probably a lot of other supplies you need to store. Even toilet paper stock can start taking over if you let it. As much as possible, keep your other supplies separate from your drink inventory. This will help prevent employees coming in and moving a few bottles here and there to throw some other items on the shelves.
4. Find an inventory method that works for you and stick to it.
Once it is actually time to take inventory, experiment with different methods to find one that works best for you. Some people prefer for inventory to be a solitary event in order to prevent any mistakes. Others use a team approach where one person calls out the name of the liquor and another person reports back with a number. The point is to figure out your ideal method.
5. Take advantage of inventory counting technology.
There are plenty of products on the market that will allow you to scan barcodes and upload inventory to your computer. From there, you can view real-time graphs and visuals that display your existing inventory and make suggestions for what to order and when. There is no reason to waste time manually counting and writing down records.
Establishing and following a few best practices when it comes to organizing bar inventory can go a long way to making everyone's life easier. At the very least, drinks will flow faster, and you will spend less time actually taking inventory.