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Off Topic: Inventory Management for Restaurants

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One of the newsletters that we receive at TimeForge is the excellent (weekly) Restaurant Report Newsletter. Two weeks ago, this question was posed in the newsletter:

Inventory Control Programs – What would you recommend as the best inventory control programs that is easy to read, follow and upkeep with information. As well we are looking into a new computer system and program for the front of the house….what would you recommend. We are in Canada and service and maintenance of course is very important.

Several years ago, we did a study of food-service industry inventory programs, and looked at the adoption and usage of inventory procedures in the marketplace. During this study, we also spoke with many of the “obvious” players in the industry – so we sent the poster a response to her question, which was published in this week’s Restaurant Report:

As I’m sure you are aware, there are dozens of inventory systems on the market today, and even more if you consider systems which are part of the “back-office” software suites.

The interesting thing about inventory systems is that….few people use them. We did a study about 2 years ago of all of the major players, and how many people used their products. Less than 20% of the market uses inventory control (with a computer). That being said, there are some amazing programs out there that will help reduce food costs and/or track inventory.

Some of the main vendors include:

Eatec, MenuLink (part of Radiant), and Compeat are all “high end” systems. Expect to spend between $10k and $40k for your store to get started with one of their packages. Really designed for very large chains. These guys own about 3 – 4% of the hospitality inventory market.

iPro is (was) a one-man show, and is the “bargain bin” version of inventory software. I would stay away from this product, even if it’s only $99. They own about 1% of the market (mostly eBay purchases).

ChefTec is “the” independent inventory product in the US, and is based out of Colorado. Getting support isn’t always easy, but they are very knowledgeable about their product. About 20 employees (as of 2 years ago), and their product starts around $1k. About 2-3% of the market (on the high end).

Cost Guard is an excellent product, which was recently upgraded and a lot of new documentation was written for the product. The owner lives in New York, and runs a tight ship…but there are only about 4 employees at last count. Probably have about 1.3% of the total market. Given the opportunity, I would recommend Cost Guard over ChefTec.

Optimum Control is a Canadian company, and as of 2 years ago, had about 6 or 8 employees. They claimed to have 3,000 installed restaurants, or about .3% of the market. Pricing is around $1k.

If I was you, I would recommend that you give Optimum Control and Cost Guard a try, and see which one works better for you. I believe both of the products have online or downloadable demos.

Regarding the front-of-house…are you interested in a POS system, a reservation system, a scheduling solutiona marketing solution, a video surveillance system, bar and liquor control, or something else? There are all-in-one solutions (I don’t recommend them), and there are individual pieces to the puzzle.

Of course, if you need a labor management tool – please take a look at our software.

Hope that helps – good luck!

Anthony Presley
TimeForge: Restaurant Employee Scheduling Software
P: 866.684.7191

After writing this, I was contacted by Kenny at Cost Genie, and am currently reviewing their product. So far, it looks like something you might want to review as well.

How long does it take to make your employee schedules? It should take less than 5 minutes! Did you know that TimeForge can streamline and minimize labor costs through effective employee labor management at your business, bar, club, grocery, convenience store, or restaurant.

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