By Dr. Fred J. DeMicco and Brian Liachowitz
Inventory management is an important factor in restaurants. Poorly performing inventory management often leads to inventory shrinkage and employee theft. An area that is often most susceptible to inventory shrinkage is beverage management. There are many ways that an employee can steal from a restaurant while handling alcoholic beverages. In these instances, inventory control is imperative. With emerging technologies, there are many systems that can be used to manage beverage inventory. Some of the most popular beverage management systems available to date are AccuBar, EasyBar, and Bevinco’s Bar Management Solution. These systems allow managers to holistically view the flow of inventory as it enters the restaurant up until the beverage is poured to the guest.
AccuBar is currently one of the most popular beverage management systems. Specific features of AccuBar include receiving and storing physical inventory, location transfers, rate of inventory turnover, and the measurement of the cost of goods sold, to name a few. The features of this system permit the management team to precisely identify problematic areas in inventory management; it even gives managers the ability to easily generate reports in Excel spreadsheets. AccuBar can be used to manage inventory between different units (restaurants, hotels, etc.) as well in order to compare cost control and profitability. In addition, AccuBar features a handheld PDA that allows managers to set par levels, check perpetual and input cost changes, track inventory locations and amounts, and order from a supplier all from any location whether it be in the restaurant or at home. Managers often see anywhere between 50-80% time savings when using AccuBar technology. Well-known organizations that use AccuBar include Aramark, Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, and Margaritaville.
EasyBar is another system that hospitality companies may implement in order to better manage beverage inventory. Like AccuBar, EasyBar allows managers to track and measure beverage inventory. It has the capability to create customized reports used to track usage and cost analysis. EasyBar’s software also allows the user to break down its information by brand as well as different locations. EasyBar interfaces on the POS with popular POS systems like Micros, Aloha, and Digital Dining. EasyBar, in comparison to many beverage inventory systems, has an intricate dispensing system in which it can control liquor, beer, wine, soda, and juice as a whole. EasyBar also has the capability to control 128 brands, a lot more than most competitive systems. EasyBar is most commonly used in casinos such as Harrah’s, Caesar’s, and Trump’s Taj Mahal.
The third, Bevinco’s Bar Management Solution, is much like the aforementioned beverage management systems. It tracks location and volume of each beverage unit using RFID technology. An impressive feature of the Bevinco’s service is that a certified auditor will come on to the premises to pinpoint specific areas of inventory shrinkage. Their services are not much different from the other beverage management systems; however they make up for it in strategic implementation and knowledge. Bevinco sends auditors who undergo specialized training and held at a strict standard. Bevinco’s strategic implementation allows managers to hold bartenders and other beverage handlers accountable by monitoring their actions. Bevinco’s services have been available for over twenty years and they service high-end clients such as the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, and Marriott.
Profitability is a goal that all businesses hope to achieve. To measure profitability, many businesses calculate their return on investment; or ROI. To increase ROI, a firm can either increase their profit or lower cost. There are many ways that a hospitality firm can lower cost through the efficient allocation of resources. Businesses use beverage management control systems to lower their beverage cost mostly by reducing inventory shrinkage and properly reordering inventory. Restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality related businesses see higher profit margins and time savings when they implement these beverage control systems. Although these systems are often expensive to purchase and install, positive returns on investment are seen within the first year. In an industry where profit margins are narrow, it is important to lower cost where possible. This especially includes beverage management because improper handling of alcohol leads to higher beverage cost. It is important to reflect on one’s own business and ask: “Is this a system that could benefit our business?” A majority of the time that answer will be yes.