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The Problems with Managing Inventory in Spreadsheets

Using spreadsheets for hospitality inventory management is inaccurate, inefficient, and unwise. Learn how poor inventory management could be making operators crazy and hurting your business.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an operator who actually likes taking inventory. It’s complicated, time-consuming, and often requires opening early or closing late. But smart operators know the importance of good inventory management technology. Day-to-day inventory decisions impact the bottom line, and with food costs on the rise, the process is another major stressor on top of numerous existing operational headaches.

Figures from the Consumer Price Index research indicate rapid inflation in the first half of 2021 and is on course to rise above 4% in the next few months, so you can understand why operators are increasingly concerned. According to Big Hospitality, over 26% and 22% of operators said that food and drinks costs are a significant challenge, so they will increase the prices respectively, hoping to get to pre-pandemic levels.

And yet, many hospitality organisations still use spreadsheets to manually count their inventory.

Even when operators take advantage of inventory management technology, those systems tend to be antiquated and configured for the needs of the corporate office — not the operations team that depends on the tool daily.

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Spreadsheets Breed Inaccuracy

When inventory is tracked manually, patterns of waste — or theft — can fly under the radar. Errors in formulas and data entry can go uncorrected for long periods of time, resulting in a string of bad decisions and unfortunate misses:

  • Over- or under-ordering
  • Increased food waste
  • Undetected theft
  • Inaccurate accounting

F1F9 estimated that 99 percent of all spreadsheets have errors in them, while 50 percent of spreadsheets used by large companies have material defects. That’s not exactly encouraging, especially when you consider that accuracy is crucial to above-store leaders. Plus, if your inventory is sloppily done, there’s no way of knowing what your cost of goods sold really is.

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Spreadsheets Are Inefficient

Spreadsheet-based inventory management processes are cumbersome and, frankly, just take too long. They require double data entry so whether operators are jotting down numbers on a sheet of paper or mundanely plugging numbers into a computer, they’re handcuffed to laborious back-office responsibilities.

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Spreadsheets Are Irritating

When mistakes and wasted time pile up, it’s a recipe for unhappy operators and increased turnover. With quality operators in shorter and shorter supply, it’s vital for operators to give managers the tools they need to succeed.

Modern, mobile inventory management technology built with the manager in mind can increase productivity, accuracy, and accountability within your company. It can also help lessen the stress and pressure on your managers and improve the quality of their work.

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