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WHY IS STOCK CONTROL IMPORTANT?An article on theft in bars and loss prevention

 

I like to use the quote: »You are worth as much as your stock.« So, it must be a good thing to find out exactly how much that is, right? The stock is a bar's only means of operation, and its selection defines the face you show to your guests. Your assortment of drinks is what you pamper them with.

We leave our stock in the hands of the people that we, to some extent, trust - our staff. But it's easy to forget or even completely ignore simple facts like the estimated 23% of drinks that aren't sold, but lost in one of the follownig ways:

{In the following paragraphs, there is a harsh truth about working in the hospitality industry. This article was written with the help of a couple of waiters, who are well-versed in the practices described below, and therefore wish to remain nameless. It is an actual state of working as a waiter}

EXPIRED DATE:

The date usually expires on items that are forgotten about, or whose sales suddenly dropped. With regular inspection, the chances of that happening decrease dramatically. It's easiest to spot these items when taking inventory – be it daily, weekly or monthly. It's best to order your waitstaff to push these items or make a promotional offer with them just before the deadline expires.

RECKLESS STAFF:

A lot of the staff see the property of their employers as worthless, or perhaps just act reckless. If a waiter spills just 0,01 l per glass, that means 1 liter for every 100 glasses. On average, one liter of liquor can be sold for about 165 €. Ask yourself how many glasses you sell on a yearly basis. Some are just sloppy, and some do it on purpose.

THE STAFF FILL THEIR POCKETS WITH YOUR STOCK:

We all know how dishonest some people can be – especially considering the low pay grade of the waitstaff and the increasing scarcity of tips. It's a pretty safe bet that there is someone among your waitstaff that profits from your ignorance. With accurate data gathered on a regular basis, you can conclude whether or not you have any such shady characters on your payroll. By executing swift, accurate, UNscheduled inventory check-ups, you can diagnose problems like:

  • The waiters treating their friends with your drinks

Maybe there is a cute girl smiling from across the bar, or maybe some friends who were passing by decided to drop in – either way, at that moment, it doesn't matter who owns the drinks.

  • The waiters take in cash without issuing a receipt.

Think how much a table of two spends, and imagine it happens four times per day.

  • Some waiters develop an alcohol abuse problem And even if they don't they just might feel like blowing off some steam with free drinks after (or during) work hours. Either way, this isn't only a major loss for the owner/manager, but will lead to worse problems in the future.

We all know how dishonest some people can be – especially considering the low pay grade of the waitstaff and the increasing scarcity of tips. It's a pretty safe bet that there is someone among your waitstaff that profits from your ignorance. With accurate data gathered on a regular basis, you can conclude whether or not you have any such shady characters on your payroll. By executing swift, accurate, UNscheduled inventory check-ups, you can diagnose problems like:

This is a topic that is rarely spoken of – like it's some sort of taboo, even though it happens on a daily basis at most hospitality venues.

The Romans used to say Clara pacta, boni amici – Clear agreements, good friends. A host can only be respectful if the people he is hosting are respectful in return.

 

To make your day-to-day business easier, we developed Massec Inventory System. It is the perfect tool for controlling your stock and your staff. You can find more information under »How it works«.

The holes in your system

 

The hospitality business is one of the hardest markets in existence. 60% of restaurants fail in the first year, and 80% do so within the first five. Whoever is to succeed in this environment, has to prepare for the worst and manage their resources wisely. But where is the secret to building a long-lasting system that will stand the test of time? The secret lies in building a strong internal structure, where strict inventory management and up-to-date info about its value are the key to success. Let's look at some facts.

  1. RENEWING YOUR STOCK IS YOUR BIGGEST EXPENSE

When you draw the line at the end of each month, refilling your store room is by far your biggest expense. If your supplier raised their prices by 10%, you would notice, but noticing such a deviation in your inventory is much harder because you need to correlate several variables to find out its actual value. And because a deviation in how much you have in stock can be directly translated to how much money you can make, this kind of control is crucial.

2. REGULAR INVENTORY IS CRUCIAL

So, If you want to know how much you're worth, you first need to find out how much your stock is worth. Deviation from standards is especially common in the hospitality industry because you don't just sell singular items, but drinks that are opened, poured and mixed as well. The more regular the inventory, the more insight you'll have into the workings of your venue. The most common and recommended practice is to conduct inventory once per month. But…

3. CONDUCTING INVENTORY COSTS MONEY

If you conduct inventory once per month, it usually takes several people to do it, and they have to work after the bar is closed. Working hours cost money, and after an entire day of hard work, the quality of each additional hour you have to pay for becomes questionable. You could also try doing it yourself, but don't forget to work the value of your own time (and the ways you could have spent it better) into the equation.

4. THE STAFF IS SUBJECT TO HUMAN ERROR

Mistakes happen everywhere people are involved, which is understandable, especially in a high-stress environment the waitstaff has to face. Waiters can overpour when mixing drinks, someone signed for the supplier's delivery without checking if the ordered quantity matches the actual one, drinks can be spilled, bottles can be broken… And when inventory time comes, the results are usually scribbled down hastily in dim light and with illegible handwriting on a crumbled piece of paper, which is a nightmare for accountants and administrative employees that have to process the results.

5. YOUR STOCK LOSES VALUE OVER TIME

When you open a bottle of soda, there is a limited time when you can serve it to your guests, before it loses value. Spirits, which are usually measured by pouring in measuring jars also lose quality and value. Every time that happens, some flavor and alcoholic content are lost. About thick liqueurs – don't be surprised if you're missing an ounce every month – the lost quantity probably got stuck to the wall of that measuring jar on your previous inventory.

 

Luckily, there is a solution to all of these problems. Massec is an ingenious way to tackle inventory losses, overstretched work hours, degrading quality of drinks and innacurate data. Don't take our word for it - here is a list of clients that are already using Massec as the default stock-taking method. If you would like to order one for yourself, or book a live product demo, you can contact us here.  

Expert opinion - Romana Razgor

Exquisite drink distributor, hedonist and the authority on recognizing quality drinks - Romana Razgor is one of the few in Slovenia whose heart is set on sharing their knowledge of exclusive distillates and wines.   

Romana Razgor is the go-to person for anything liquor and wine related. You can find more about her at her website Ekskluzivna darila.

Ms. Romana, you are known for your excelent taste in drinks, and for your ability to quickly recognize quality. Tell us more about yourself and your work. What is it that you do exactly? Where did you gain the knowledge you possess, which you now market and pass on to others?

It's hard to describe yourself, but I'll try anyway. First and foremost, I am a mother. I have two sons and a daughter. I am a very positive person and I see something good even in the bad things. I could say my glass is always half full. I realise life is a privelege, and that's why I wake up happy every morning knowing my family is healthy and living in peace. I'm realizing more and more that I'm a hedonist. I like beautiful things, I have a passion for life and I'm willing to do a lot for things to remain as good as they are now. Of course I've been through many negative experiences as well, but I try to forget those. I keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason. The work I do is also a hobby to me, and that makes me happy. We have a family business. We sell business and promotional gifts, and fort he last seven years we've been distributing high quality alcoholic drinks as well.

Currently those are our focus. Three years ago, my husband joined the company, and we made several representative deals for whiskeys, rums and gins. We both started to enjoy our business. We soon found out Slovenia lacks quality drinks, that .

people know very little about distillates, and that we need much more knowledge. Everybody's talking about HOW MUCH is drank, or rather, we drink too much. We lack preventive measures. Have you ever heard of any type of education about distillates and spirits? There is very little knowledge. A couple of individuals try to educate people, but that's it

My husband and I undertook some education in this manner in France, with a couple of cognac producers. We gained the knowledge about other distillates as well, mostly from distributers and suppliers of gins and whiskeys. I work with Ms. Majda Debevc a lot. She is one of the first ladies in the world of distillates. My husband and I learned a great deal from her. Sometimes my husband surprises me with knowledge he gained from the internet.

According to research, Slovenia is among the leading countries in the world in consumption of alcohol per capita, especially wine. Forbes magazine did an analysis a couple of years ago, and placed us to the fifth place, whereas France, the global wine superpower, placed sixth. Does this statistic only speak of mass consumption, or can it be correlated to quality as well? What characteristics does a good wine have do are we, as a nation, know enough about wines?

Everybody wants to comapre to the French. This data is no measure for me. France is big, and they export a lot of their wines, and we are small and drink most of our wine ourselves. Even though we have very good wines, almost none of the winemakers exported anything until a couple of years ago. Today, we have quite a number of winemakers whose wines are sold in the most prestigious restaurants in the world, Hong Kong, Japan, London, Italy, LA… If you as much as mention French, Spanish, Italian or any other foreign wine here, everybody gets excited, even though it's not always justifiable. These wines have tradition. The British spread the French Bordeaux through the entire world. And what about our wines? The world has only just now gotten the chance to get to know them. Our main problem is that we're a small country, and that's why quality is even more important, because in our case we can sell them »Butique-style«.

You see, we aren't very well educated about wine as a nation. There's more to it than just red, white and maybe rosé. Wine goes hand in hand with food, so the proper thing to do would be to have different wine with each course. Half-dry or half-sweet doens't match the main course very well, but most people drink the same bottle all the way from the entrée to the desert.There is not enough knowledge in this area. And to answer what qualities make a good wine – the quality to go weel with the food on the table, and to be as natural as possible. Experts often joke that you can only judge a wine the next day after drinking it, if you had too much. Slovenian people realize we have good wines, but not enough.

What about spirits? You are an expert for cognacs in particular. What is the proper way to taste cognac and what qualities do you personally look for when tasting?

Cognac is my love, although I seldom drink it. We've done a lot in the field of cognac recognition in Slovenia. We had a lot of related events, for instance, we once did a dinner with cognacs, where we had a different cognac with each dish. You can imagine the response we got five years ago. The first cognac dinner was held at the JB restaurant in Ljubljana. The guests were a little sceptical at first, but very pleased by the end. They couldn't believe that pairing cognacs with food could result in such a good culinary experience.

Cognac is drank from tulip-shaped glasses. You hold it in your palm to warm it to your body temperature. Then, you smell it, move away, smell it again without swirling it, and repeat a couple of times. You sip it slowly, with pleasure.

The older it is, the smoother and richer it gets and the more you feel inside it – walnuts, dried fruits… To me, aftertaste is what matters the most – meaning if it caresses your mouth and lasts long.

Many hospitality managers already realize the importance of a unique and diverse selection of cognacs and whiskeys. First, I'd like to know when and how to serve cognac.

Like I said, it is served in a tulip-shaped glass. It is served at the end of the meal. Restaurateurs still think they have to warm it up, but that's not true. They don't do that in France. The distillers never did it. That is just a marketing gimmick, and serving it that way is wrong.

When bar owners want to know how much exquisite drinks they have in stock, they usually pour them to measuring cups. How does regularly pouring expensive wines and cognacs to plastic cups influence the quality of said drinks?

Distillates have an alcoholic content that's high enough fort hem not to spoil, but pouring over isn't recommended because of air exposure and the settling of dust particles. It is true, however, that such drinks don't change their characteristics. If the bottle says that a cognac was aged aged for 10 years, it will remain that way even if it sits on the shelf for another 10.

It's different with wine. Wine is still alive when it's bottled, it is still maturing and gaining quality, or it might be the opposite. It depends on the year it was made and the strain of grapes used. Pouring wine to plastic cups decreases its quality and shortens it's expiration date drastically.

As far as I know, this is also a very sloppy technique – the measuring cups are rarely washed as they should be, or aren't dried between measurings. The chances of contaminating a dring that way are very high.

Do you think MASSEC inventory system can have a positive effect on drink quality and the quality of serving it? What does integrating an electronic system for taking stock mean?

Even though I think MASSEC has advantages mostly fort the business and administrative aspects of the hospitality industry, I think it can have very positive effects on drink quality. Implementing such a system means you don't need to pour drinks in and out of bottles regularly. I'm glad there is progress in this field.