Within the service industry, companies will typically have two types of inventory, traditional inventory and non-traditional inventory. For a restaurateur it is essential that they have certain management systems in place, which assist with the management of both types of inventory. These inventory management systems for traditional and non-traditional inventories are critical for a restaurant to be successful and profitable. When dealing with a restaurants traditional inventory, managers are focused on the challenges of dealing with a highly perishable product, food. Since the raw materials for restaurants have a limited shelf life and usually expire within the first week, restaurant managers must have active control systems that assist with food costs, the largest expense for all restaurants.
If restaurants are able to successfully manage their traditional inventory, they are most likely a profitable business; however, restaurants could still be passing up opportunities if they do not manage their non-traditional inventories. The non-traditional inventories for restaurants are the “products available for sale”, which are the space for customers to sit at tables. Restaurant owners should consider each table space as their main product, because without the table space full-service restaurants will not exist. In order for a restaurant to be not only profitable, but also successful, managers should monitor their tables as if their customers were temporarily renting the space for a meal. For them to manage the tables, they should scrutinize the turnover rate of tables. This refers to the number of times a table is used to serve new customers, therefore, the higher the turnover rate of the tables, the greater the cash flow for the restaurant.
This is the reason the fast food industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, as they have an exceptionally high table turnover rate compared to a fine-dining restaurant. For any full-service restaurant, restaurant owners should not pressure their customers to eat faster in order to improve their table turnover rate. Instead, restaurateurs have to properly manage their staff and the service that they provide to achieve a higher turnover rate. Owners should encourage their staff to work together as a team, so that they can improve the efficiency of the restaurant by assisting each other’s customer requests. The most effective practice for improving the cohesiveness between staff members is to encourage the servers to “pool their tips together and divide it up evenly” (Restaurant Guide). Apart from generating stronger teamwork between staff members, owners must ensure that the kitchen is fully optimized for speed and efficiency.
By ensuring both the quality and the speed of the kitchen, restaurants can drastically improve the perceived service as well as the turnover of tables. In addition, staff members should be able to indicate when customers are ready to order, as well as finished with their dishes, since having fewer items on the table is generally a positive aspect of a good restaurant. Lastly, owners in the start-up phase of running a restaurant should avoid purchasing large tables, as small tables can help save space as well as seating capacity. If large parties were to request for a larger table, the restaurant will still be able to accommodate the varying sizes by combining small tables together. Therefore, if restaurant owners are able to manage their food costs, as well the table’s turnover rate and has the correct combination of sizes of tables; they can decrease the wait time for customers, maximize seating capacity, and increase profits (Petersen).
“How Better Inventory Management & Weekly Food Costing Can Lower Your Food Cost.” How Better Inventory Management & Weekly Food Costing Can Lower Your Food Cost. Restaurant Owner. Web. 27 May 2012. <http://www.restaurantowner.com/public/377.cfm>. “Managing Table Turns.” – Restaurant Customer Service. Starting a Restaurant Guide. Web. 27 May 2012. <http://startingarestaurantguide.com/customer-service/99-managing-table-turns>. Petersen, Kurt. “Tables: What Size Do You Need?” Tables: What Size Do You Need? Petersen Furniture, Inc. Web. 27 May 2012. <http://www.kpetersen.com/tableswhatsize.htm>.