November 2005 Edition
Adequate Serviceware Inventories The Key to Efficiency

Adequate Serviceware Inventories:
The Key to Efficiency

An average restaurant spends about 1% of its sales on small equipment and tabletop replacements every year. As a rule of thumb it is a good idea to maintain an inventory of about three times the number of place settings in the dining room. Most operators would like very much to reduce that expense and the favorite technique is "procrastination". By deferring the purchases of needed tabletop replacements while it appears that we are doing a better job of hanging on to our money and improving our bottom lines – this is not the case.

There are at least three very good reasons for building and maintaining adequate inventories of high use tabletop items:

1. We reduce the rates of loss and breakage - Low inventories of china, glassware and flatware put pressure on service personnel to hurry the recycling process. This usually results in rough handling of china and glassware and loss of flatware to the garbage cans. In addition to the rough handling of china and glassware there is also the issue of thermal shock. When china and glassware hot from the dishwasher are not given adequate cooling time, contact with ice or cold food frequently causes cracking.

2. We can save on labour and energy costs - Dishwashing systems are intended to run at high efficiency with full loads and full crews. When there are not enough dirty dishes to warrant a full dish crew, which is fairly common during breakfast, the dishwashing process becomes very inefficient. With adequate inventories, scraping, rinsing and stacking or soaking is a better alternative. It is more efficient to bring the crew in later and wash the dishes when there is enough work to justify a full crew.

3. We ensure safe and sanitary food contact surfaces - By allowing time for careful inspection and thorough sanitizing which includes time for air drying we do a better job of protecting our customers and employees from the hazards of food borne illness. Adequate inventories make this possible.

A restaurant doing sales of $1,000,000 per year typically spends $10,000 on annual replacement costs. Why not spend it up front, build the inventories to adequate levels and watch efficiency improve and replacement, labor and energy costs decrease?

Submitted by Tepper Kalmar Associates