Inventory Management Will Save You Time, Storage Space and Money

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Knowing Your Customers Will Help You Manage Coffee and Food Inventory

Is it time to evaluate the products you’re selling? Look at each item on your counter and in your refrigerator and ask yourself, "How much of this actually gets used?" The answer might surprise you.

One aspect of managing inventory is getting to know your customers, your neighborhood and nearby businesses. This makes choosing products to carry and stocking them a simpler task. Could you cultivate a light-lunch crowd, or are there enough lunch spots nearby that you should stick to coffee, smoothies and pastries?

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Are your customers more traditional, ordering drip coffee and cappuccinos? Or do they tend to go for the Cherry Jubilee Latte? If they are more traditional, feel free to set aside that bottle of cherry syrup and use it for an upcoming special. Focus on what's selling today. Consider offering a wider selection of coffee roasts and origins, or expand your espresso selections with macchiatos and Americanos.

If you have customers who like to experiment, try offering weekly or monthly specials like a black forest mocha or white chocolate latte. In which case, plan to order enough syrup for the special—and estimate a little high so you don’t run out. If a drink proves extremely popular, add it to your menu. If you do add it to your menu and sales slow, feel free to remove the item and run it periodically as a special.

Order in bulk whenever possible

If most of your latte sales are the vanilla variety, order vanilla syrup by the case. This will assure that:

1) You won't run out of vanilla syrup

2) You receive bulk discount when you order in case quantities

Review your menu selections and make a list of items you order all the time. There may be other products you can order in larger quantities to qualify for better pricing.

Do you have many non-coffee drinking customers?

You might want to expand your smoothie offerings by mixing flavors to form new ones, allowing you to offer more flavors while carrying less inventory. Or maybe you've done this already and never really increased your sales, making it time to pare down your offerings to the top two or three best sellers.

Pots of tea can sell well to non-coffee drinkers as well. Consider offering white, green and oolong in addition to the usual black and herbal varieties.

Take the time to manage your inventory

How many times have you called in your weekly order only to discover you're out of chocolate sauce—forcing you to place a rush shipment? Set aside a time each week that you know you'll be able to devote to placing your order. A set block of time where you’re not rushed will mean fewer mistakes.

Taking time to manage your inventory is an investment that will pay you back in several ways. It will save you money, it will ensure you have the right amount of product, and with a little practice, it will save you time.

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