Ensure your inventory gets used (even if you’re closed to the public!)

When you’re unable to open your doors to the public, whether that be due to private events, or renovations, you may be asking yourself “what do I do with all of my inventory?” We’ve found a number of potential solutions for you to use your inventory in non-traditional ways, so even if you can’t use all of your inventory, you may be able to use some of it to recoup some losses. These range from operating ghost kitchens, to making simple menu changes, all in an effort to use inventory that would have otherwise been wasted.

Chefs in KitchenGhost Kitchens

While using services such as SkipTheDishes and UberEats are becoming essential to surviving, the number of tickets is much lower than if you were open at full capacity. In this instance, it may be beneficial to open what are known as ghost kitchens, and multiple ghost kitchens, if your operations have the capacity to handle such an undertaking.

If you’re asking yourself “what are ghost kitchens?”, they are take-out and delivery-only operations that in many cases, operate out of the same kitchen under different names. If you look at your restaurant’s inventory management software, how much of your inventory is simply sitting there unused and going bad? If the answer is “too much”, then the next question is “can my chef make more than our current menu?” Some chefs have the ability to cook not only their current menu, but multiple menus of different cuisines at the same time. For instance, you could have a ghost kitchen for Italian cuisine, in addition to Mexican food. This allows you to maximize the use of common ingredients, and especially proteins, which may be inflating your food costing and decreasing your profits. That being said, you’ll want to try and use ingredients that are already in your inventory without purchasing additional ones. This allows you to use up remaining inventory without incurring additional cost.

DIY KitsOverordering Meat

If you’re in a situation where labor is on a tight budget, consider doing DIY/cook-at-home/celebration kits. You may either not have the staff on hand or the budget to afford more staff at the time being, but your restaurant still has a great following and loyal customer base. Consider packaging ingredients with instructions to prepare some recipes at home. It sounds like strange concept, we know but customers that enjoy the atmosphere in addition to the food will return when possible. This could also be positioned as a limited time event to not only create urgency, but also bring customers back when your doors reopen. Of course, you’ll have to adjust your price point to adjust your price point to account for the lack of labor, but this can be a low effort method to control your inventory, and control your food costing. In some ways, this may be your only method of method revenue generation. You won’t have to worry about maintaining yields on a consistent basis through service, as these kits will be prepared for customers to pick up, leaving them to handle the actual preparation of the dishes. All you have left to do is decide which dishes you want to have on the menu for these kits.

Menu Management

Have you looked at your menu, then looked at your restaurant’s inventory, and thought “what else can I make with this?”, or “what can I remove?” Simply sticking with your existing menu is not always the best course of action. If you have ingredients on hand that you won’t be ordering going forward, or have ordered too much and still need to get rid of, consider making a daily special of a new dish and advertising it on social media. It may end up being a dish that sticks around going forward. This being said, if you find that neither the existing dish, nor the new dish are producing the results you hope for, don’t be afraid to remove a dish entirely. Some common ingredients may remain, but those that are unique to the dish being removed will be gone from your inventory, reducing your food costing and bringing costs down.

While there are options such as delivery and take-out platforms, these may not be enough to use remaining inventory.  The “ghost kitchen” concept may be your most beneficial course of action, as it has the potential to actually increasing your incoming orders and usage by offering a wider variety of dishes available. DIY kits may provide provide some temporary relief, as it’s something new, but because you’re not necessarily offering anything new or truly differentiating in terms of dish offerings, you would need to reduce inventory levels beyond their current levels. By looking at your reporting, utilizing everything from waste reports to usage summaries, you’ll be able to identify trends and areas of your menu and operations that need to be reworked or removed, and more.

While managing your inventory is a large task, using restaurant management software can help streamline the process, and make it easier for you to identify issues in stock usage levels and act before it’s too late.