For most food trucks, inventory is like a never-ending grocery list they have little control over. Ingredients are bought and prepped, then sold. And every day, the same process continues.
When it comes to running a food truck, food truck operators are most likely to opt-out of using a formal inventory management system — big mistake.
After talking with several food truck operators, we were surprised to learn that most don’t have written records of their purchase orders or sales reports, take inventory sporadically, and don’t use their Food Truck POS system to keep track of inventory.
Unlike a restaurant, food trucks don’t have the space to store food in bulk. Food trucks are built for food preparation, not food storage, and this makes it difficult for food trucks to buy in large quantities. Additionally, the mobility of food trucks makes it difficult to receive ingredient deliveries from vendors. Often, owners are making daily food trips themselves.
Altogether, the very qualities of a food truck make inventory management a logistical nightmare. Nonetheless, taking inventory is a vital component to understanding your margins, getting sales feedback, and scaling your growth.
It’s unclear how much of one’s operating budget goes toward purchasing food, which means money could be funneling into dark holes, and the business could suffer. Like it or not, how you manage your food truck’s inventory is a critical part of your success. Here are three reasons why food truck owners ought to make inventory a priority.
Eliminate Food Waste, Theft, and Running Out of Ingredients
Keep Track of Ingredients
Without proper tracking of your food and beverage tracking, it’s almost impossible determining how much individual stock you have and how you frequently you use them. And when such a record isn’t properly accounted for, running out of important ingredients used in your food truck business becomes a common occurrence – this business model can result in lost profit and unsatisfied patrons. By utilizing a food truck inventory management system, you can rest easy knowing that your ingredients you’re not suddenly going to run out of food ingredients since there a proper record of them now.
Prevent Food Waste
Food waste is one issue food businesses have been dealing with and will keep dealing with. Regardless of how profitable your business is, throwing out food, hits you in some ways you’d prefer to have. It gets worse without an inventory system.
While there’s no ending the waste of food in the restaurant business, it’s possible to manage food wastages to the barest. What you need is an efficient way to track how much excess food you’re preparing and then work to reduces such excesses. With discipline and proper inventory maintenance, you should see a significant drop in food wats in a sort period.
In the food business, theft can be an almost impossible metric to measure, especially if you don’t keep constant track of your stock. Do you suspect theft in your food truck business? Inventory management is the way to go to prevent further losses and figure out where the deficiency is coming from.
Manage Cash Flow
If you’re experiencing a bottleneck in cash flow and can’t seem to figure out where all your money is going to, a proper inventory can easily solve such a problem. If you want to get back in control of your food truck businesses’ cash flow, then proper inventory is the route to follow. With a detailed reporting system, you can easily pinpoint what exactly is coming in and going out every day and ultimately plan better and spend better.
With regular inventory, you have total control over the flow of money that’s going out and coming in:
Inventory lets you pinpoint and reduce waste, allowing you to save money and invest more in marketing, salaries, or ingredients.
Inventory guarantees that you buy the right amount of ingredients to avoid 86-ing a menu item too early in your shift.
Inventory also helps you avoid buying too much.
Inventory spotlights any theft taking place.
Sharing this with your staff will also get them motivated to keep clear and organized inventory records. Most likely, you will take this responsibility on yourself, but don’t shy away from delegating this task if you have someone else working with you. Controlling food costs and eliminating waste is everyone’s priority in a food truck.
Precise Numbers Give You Total Control Over Food Costs
Do you look at your shelves and take a mental inventory? Do you rely on estimates to have a ‘general idea’ of what ingredients are available? How many times have you written down a close number instead of counting the exact number of tomatoes you have?
Guesstimates are not helpful for your business. If you find yourself scrambling last minute because an important ingredient runs out, that can be avoided with precise inventory taking.
Accuracy is a key component of food truck inventory management and your success. Since a sizeable percentage of your budget goes into food costs, keeping exact numbers will help you allocate the right funds. With consistent inventory records, you can identify areas where you are overspending and can cut back. These kinds of changes could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars every month.
Taking Inventory Regularly Ensures Longevity
The trick to inventory management is taking inventory frequently. Since food trucks are purchasing smaller quantities than restaurants, it’s wise to take inventory daily. It might sound excessive to you, yet this kind of regular record keeping makes controlling your food costs even easier.
Don’t wait for a slow night or the end of the month to take your inventory that’s not going to help you at all. The purpose of the inventory is to help you make educated business decisions that maximize your sales and decrease waste.
- With regular counts, you can identify:
- Which days of the week are the slowest?
- Which menu items sell the most.
- Which times of the day or week are most popular?
- Which locations sell the most.
- Which ingredients you regularly toss out.
- Which ingredients expire quickly.
- Which menu items you need to invest more in, and which menu items you need less of.
The bottom line is, you need a good inventory system to succeed as a food truck owner, and POS are the right solutions to this. As a food truck business owner, you’re already aware that there’s no exemption from the general challenges that restaurants face. It’s the same ball game, you get in your truck every day and sell your wares, with POS software you get an extra lifeboat.
With so many potential features available (and so many restaurant management solutions out there), it’s easy for new food truckers to become confused. Fear not! Once you’re armed with a little knowledge about POS inventory software, you will be able to make the best decision for your business.
This kind of control over your inventory will help you to identify problem areas, make sense of fluctuating sales reports, and guarantee that your bottom line is covered.
Skyrocketing food costs is one of the biggest problems for food truck operators. Take inventory every day, get your staff involved, and use your Food Truck POS to maximize every dollar spent.