A Confession - I don't do inventory! Help me fix that!

Yes, I said it. I don’t do inventory. But I want to fix that. The Point of Sale system I purchased late in the summer of 2007 has all the bells and whistles to do it properly. It will keep track of what my ideal food cost should be, etc… so I plan to use it. I do have a few questions though. I do a lunch buffet. How do you suggest I go about entering the usage from the buffet into the system?

Our buffet has both a salad bar, and pizza. For the pizzas we put out a variety of mediums and larges out. Should I create a pizza in my POS system that has a zero cost? Then ring up each pizza that we made? What about the salad bar? Weigh the ingredients put out and then find out what is gone? I’m not sure that is feasible on a daily basis. Right now I have the buffet just rung up as a “Buffet” Should I separate the two different categories on my tickets into a salad portion and a pizza portion?

I try to re-cost my menu and go over portioning with my employees on a regular basis, but I’ve never physically counted everything down. I know once I have a system, it will be second nature, but I just haven’t gotten to that point yet and with nearly all items increasing, I really need to get a handle on things quicker, and the only way I can see doing that is with weekly inventory.

Thanks Everyone!


Starting Inventory

  • All Food Purchases
    = Available Food 4 Sale
  • Ending Inventory
    = Cost of Food Sold/Used

/ Net Food Sales
= Food Cost %

You must have a starting inventory point, then compare same period sales to the cost of goods…

you can use a spread sheet to calculate, but I suggest learning QuickBooks…

POS will only tell you what you food cost should be…an actual inventory tells you what it actually is…

Semper Fi!
U.S.M.C. Auditor


Yeah the POS system will print out count sheets for me, so I can count based on how I order. For instance, I get a 30 pound case of cheese. It comes as 6, five pound bags. So on my count sheet it has a spot for cases, as well as bags, and pounds, so I can just enter it all in and not have to think about it. It allows me to update the physical count and keeps track of that data for me. My main concern is dealing with the buffet. Since the price for the buffet is 5.89 and that includes pizza and salad bar. How do I enter the data into the POS so that the ideal food cost in my POS system is accurate? I’d love to start awarding a bonus based on reaching certain goals, and Ideal food cost is on the top of my list right now.

I was thinking about ringing up a buffet pizza that costs 0.00, yet would still go through the system so the inventory would be updated, but I’m not sure how to handle the salad portion.


I do not have a POS, but consider inventory control one of my better parts…

I figure out how many pizzas i plan to sell in a week, then my proportions of 4 ounces of sauce, 8 ounces of cheese, and 17 ounce dough ball for each, then do the math for how much of each of the those primary ingredients that I use, then multiply by the number of pizzas I plan to sell…
ie, 100 pizzas, I need about 400 ounces of 6N1 crushed tomatoes, which is divided by 102 ounces per can is about 4 cans…
100 pizzas times 8 ounces equals 800 ounces of cheese, or 50 pounds of cheese…flour in the same concept…
I usually get it pretty close…
can do the same thing with your toppings…

hope that helps,

Don’t feel bad…I don’t do it either and I used to be an auditor for Ernst & Young…must bring back bad memories :wink:

I would track it it for bottled beer when we add it, but for my operation it is not worth the time because our spoilage is so low and our consumption is constant throughout the year.

Just my opinion…I am sure some guys like bean counting though.


Just count what you have on hand (I don’t count items I routinly expense every week, i.e. the case of napkins) I count my food freezer, cooler, & prep’d. That is your starting point. Count it the same time every period (every sunday night, every other sunday, or every EOM). Once you get a count you’ll count again that same day of your period end (weekly inventoy or bi-weekly, monthly)
Take your starting inventory (your first count) add any purchases, adjust any transfers in/out, add any paidouts, subtract any credits (i.e. clip board on the boh wall tracking crew pie’s and so forth) then subtract your new inventory count. What you have is your cogs, divide that by your food sales to get your food cost.

Hope ot helps!


I think there are two issues here 1) why use your POS to manage ideal food (as some of the previous posters appear not to see the benefit of this) and 2) how to deal with the buffet specific issues.

You should do minimum weekly inventory to find exactly what you’ve used HOWEVER as you point out you have a POS which will help with food cost and that’s such an important thing to look at. I do mine daily as it helps pinpoint issues very quickly.

To be honest just knowing I used a total of $X of food in a day/week/month (using the ending minus deliveries minus starting) is of little use to me - sure you can see the overall food cost but if you really want to control one of your biggest costs (and we all want to do that) you should really use the ideal food cost part of your POS system and go into as much detail as possible - the more detail you put in the more help it will be.

For this reason you needs to have one very important rule - everything goes through you POS - every pie inc staff pies.

There are several benefits in this approach:

  • I can see if we are over or under topping every item - I can for example tell when one shift has been heavy handed with cheese - and do something about it straight away
  • much better understanding of what we use which helps with our food ordering and identifying if we will be short of any items
  • very quickly identify theft or missing items
  • better management overall of food - what sells what doesn’t
  • better control over staff ‘helping themselves’ to extra staff food.
  • it can also help identify other trends such as staff theft through not entering sales in the till - when your short of dough, boxes topping etc

Bearing in mind that you should include every item you make you must also add every item made for your buffet. You should be able to create a coupon or something to flag a buffet pizza/food item as zero cost when its made but still include it for food cost purposes. In the same way you need to be able to have a set portion of salad (or what every else you have on the buffet, that you can add to your POS for each time you put the salad out. In terms of money control you should then be able to put a ‘cost’ item to record the takings. Someone who runs a buffet may what to chip in here to give you some specifics on this.

As I said before - food is one of the key costs of a business. We all look at effectively scheduling staff and controlling these costs and using your POS to manage food cost at a much closer level than just ‘overall food cost’ can makes a real difference to your business.