Restaurant Operators, Franchisors and Franchisees – Benefits of an Inventory and Theoretical Program

Today’s post is written by recognized restaurant operations expert Fred Kirvan. I’ve had the privilege of working with Fred (almost 20 years) on various projects building scores of franchised Fast Casual restaurants. Today Fred discusses the importance of creating an accurate, detailed and evolving inventory and theoretical Cost of Goods program. Franchised as well and independent restaurant operations should take the time to learn how to build an use such a program. It will not only help you save money but more importantly will create a better system for overall results with or without your daily participation in the operation.
– Gary Occhiogrosso
Founder and Manager – Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC. #howtofranchise

Performing regular inventories will serve to organize your stores as attempting to perform an inventory in a disorganized store will take twice the amount of time. As part of the integration of this program, we will teach managers and franchisees how to perform accurate and effective inventories.

Benefits of an Inventory and Theoretical Program

By Fred J. Kirvan
Founder FK Consulting
Cooperative Member – Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC

I deal with numerous franchisors and restaurant operators and still can’t understand why so many do not employ a good inventory system. In fact, the sad truth is some don’t even conduct a weekly or monthly inventory…Instead, they use purchases to somehow (and inaccurately) calculate their Cost of Goods (COG’s).
Today I will attempt to explain why it is critical for professional restaurant management that you have a detailed Inventory and Theoretical COG’s Program. A 3%-5% saving in COG’s can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Remember, this saving goes directly to your bottom line, not to mention the increase in accountability of your operation whether you participate in the day to day operation or not.

Here are just a few benefits of using such a program

1. Provides the ability to conduct a monthly audit on your purchases when the program’s Master Inventory Sheet is updated each month by you or someone in your organization. These audits should be updated internally.

2. The process of developing this program serves to streamline your order guide by having to determine which products you will use moving forward as they are now tied to menu and recipes within the program. What that means is your order guide gets cleaned up by removing duplicate or unnecessary items.

3. In addition to a Theoretical Food Costing Program, it will also include Inventory Sheets for performing accurate physical inventories.

a. Performing regular inventories will serve to organize your stores as attempting to perform an inventory in a disorganized store will take twice the amount of time. As part of the integration of this program, we will teach managers and franchisees how to perform accurate and effective inventories.

b. By having theoretical and physical inventory in one program we can immediately identify down to the penny, the difference which should be accounted for discounts, employee meals, and waste. The unaccounted-for amount is then either over portioning, shrinkage or theft. Without this information your operating blind.

4. This process will streamline your Recipes, portioning must be solidified to achieve costing which serves to assist with the consistency of menu offering as well.

5. This process will streamline your Plate Builds, portioning must be solidified to achieve costing which serves to assist with the consistency of menu offering as well.

6. Once the program is completed:

a. You’ll immediately be able to identify higher and lower costed menu items.

*** i. With that information, you may elect to change the portioning and/or pricing to remedy the issue having an immediate impact on your costs.

*** ii. Additionally, repositioning lower cost items on the menu will also serve to immediately lower costs as well.

b. You’ll be able to see the immediate impact on your overall food cost as a percentage and dollar amount by changing costs from your distributor.

c. You’ll be able to see the immediate impact on your overall food cost as a percentage and dollar amount by changing portions on menu items.

d. You’ll be able to see the immediate impact on your overall food cost as a percentage and overall dollar amount by changing prices on your menu items.

Quite simply, no professionally managed restaurant group can or should operate without this level of information – certainly not having this level of detail on your menu offering will heavily impact your ability to recruit multi-unit franchisees in the future.

For more information on building and using an Inventory and Theoretical Program and for a FREE Consultation please contact [email protected] or call (917) 991-2465
About the Author:
Founder FK Consulting

Fred started in the franchise business in 1991. Working with the founder of Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grille he developed the operating systems and grew the company from a single unit into a multi state, 30 unit franchised brand. In 2008 he became President of Desert Moon remaining in that role until 2013

Mr. Kirvan was then recruited as the Chief Operating Officer for TRUFOODS, LLC. a 100 unit, multi brand franchise company that included Pudgie’s, Wall Street Deli, Ritter’s Frozen Custard and Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips.

Upon leaving TRUFOODS he became VP of Operations for Energy Kitchen; a NYC based fast casual chain which pioneered the “healthy alternative” space before leaving to launch an early learning & play center business “Moozie’s Play Cafe” with his wife.

Working in a variety of capacities in food and non food business’ Mr. Kirvan’s experience in systems development, writing manuals, brand connectivity, purchasing and construction project management have proven invaluable assets to start up & emerging brands.

Currently FK Consulting works to develop a full suite of Confidential Franchise Manuals which include Operations, Managing the Business, C&D and other critical Job Aids and Training Tools necessary to grow and enhance the process of devloping successful franchisees.

Making Lemonade: Starting a Business After Ending A Career

By: Liz Sumner, M.A., CPC

What do you do when the money tree starts sprouting lemons?

It’s increasingly common these days to find middle-aged, mid-level managers suddenly faced with huge shifts of circumstance. Down-sizing, bubble-bursting, plant-closing, and consolidating are just some of the forces creating a class of sudden solo-preneurs.

At 50-something you face particularly difficult job-hunting challenges. Your salary range is high. Your network is decent after so many years, but jobs at your level are few. You’ve been there, done that, and thought you were finished with all that new trick-learning.

A big upset like job loss can provide a shift of perspective – an opportunity to take stock. What is really important? What do you want to pursue at this point in your life? Is being your own boss the way to go?

I spoke with several silverbacks to share their wisdom gleaned from these life changes with a new member of the pack.

Dean turned 50 in January of 2005. In May he was fired from his position as marketing director of a high-tech firm. He’s angry at the ease with which an employer could let him go.

“Control is a big issue for me. Do I really want to have someone tell what, where, and how? It seems like I work a lot but don’t reap the benefits. If I were on my own I’d have all the benefits and all the risks.”

Dean is deciding whether to find another job with the security of a regular paycheck and benefits, or start his own business. He finds information on the internet helpful but wishes there was a Big Brother-like program pairing people and businesses to help him sort through the options.

Carl was 51 when the ordinance plant where he was safety manager closed its doors.

“I had a lot of friends in the business. I could have easily picked up another job but I would have had to relocate halfway across the country. I didn’t want to do that.”

Bob was an engineer whose position was eliminated after 23 years with the firm. This sent him into a deep depression that lasted for months.

“I couldn’t even drive.”

With the help of his psychiatrist, Bob recognized what was most important in his life-his wife, his son, and his lifelong hobby, bird-watching.

“My doctor told me to go bird-watching every day. While out there on the wetlands I had a vision. I couldn’t go back to the corporate life.”

It takes a lot of stamina and belief in yourself to move ahead with plans for a business. Carl spoke of his state of mind at the time:

“I wasn’t frightened. I’m a survivor. I screwed up when I was younger- went bankrupt, lost a lot of material things. One good thing about failing is that it gets you over that fear of failure. You learn from your mistakes.”

Both men did a lot of research, internal and external. Bob determined that he loved birds, kids, nature, education, photography, and the environment. Anything he pursued needed to involve those. Once he was clear on the essentials the how-to landed in Bob’s lap.

“I saw an ad in a magazine to call for franchise information. My mind immediately took off with the possibilities. I began looking at retail spaces thinking ‘I wonder how that location would work?’ I saw the ad on a Saturday. That Tuesday I called the company. On Thursday I had the package and on the following Tuesday they had it back.”

Carl was taking his time, looking at options. His values included a love of people and a desire to create a positive environment.
His plans started with casual conversation.

“My buddies owned this building. There had been a restaurant there years ago but it had been mismanaged. And somehow the idea of starting another one came up. At first we were clowning around, yucking it up over a few beers, but then we started getting more serious.

Bob made use of the infant, but still helpful internet of 1995. Carl used lower tech methods to estimate his market.

I spent 15 days from 4:00 am to 11:00 am counting cars at that intersection. I figured if we could get a big enough percentage of them to stop we’d be in business.

Bob used a book called, The Insider’s Guide to Franchising [Webster, B. 1986 Amacom, New York] to help him review his offer. Carl was mentored by a successful friend in the restaurant business who helped him think things through. They developed their business plans and opened their doors.

The first year was tough for both businesses. Miscalculations and errors sent both owners reeling.

At first Carl knew nothing about preparing and serving food.

“The restaurant was overstaffed and overpaid. I felt held hostage by the people who worked for me. Things were pretty shaky there for awhile. Some days I wondered if we could open the doors.”

Bob got overwhelmed with paperwork and screwed up his accounting records.

“Plus I went crazy at Vendormart. I bought four times as much inventory as I should have. Nowadays the franchise pairs successful stores and newbies so that doesn’t happen, but those safeguards weren’t in place back then.”

In September Bob’s store will celebrate its tenth anniversary. It has been recognized three times among the Top 30 Most-Improved stores. In February and June of this year his store was number 2 out of 320 in overall sales.

Carl was advised that he’d know if the restaurant would make it within four years. It was clear after three that they’d be fine. Today after seven years they’re looking to expand.

“We’re not getting rich but we’re self-supporting, and the relationships are priceless.”

What advice do they have in hindsight for Dean and others like him?

Bob says, “Find what you love and create your opportunity. Be willing to change-be retooled. Don’t get stuck in a rut. And you gotta have another source of income when you’re starting.”

Carl adds, “We grossly underestimated the working capital we’d need. And if I had it to do over I’d own the building. There are improvements I’d like to make but I’m restricted by the landlord.”

So back to Dean, who’s looking at buying an existing restaurant business, if he doesn’t decide to return to marketing. Where do you want to be in a year? What will you say when I check back with you?

“I made the right choice. I’m doing exactly what I should and I’m excited about it.

Author Bio
Liz Sumner, M.A., CPC, of Find Your Way Coaching specializes in mid-life reassessment. Are you happy with your direction? Do you feel good about yourself? Are you fearless? Joyful? Energized? You could be. Visit or call 603-876-3956 for more information.

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