Inventory is that part of a business' assets that are available for sale to clients and customers. It does not include your decorations or equipment (pots, pans, espresso machine). The inventory for a coffee shop is specialized in that it consists in large part of goods that have an expiration date. You need to maintain a stock of items your customers want to purchase, including seasonal specialties. And you need to move those items out in a reasonable time. Managing inventory for a coffee shop is a delicate balancing act.
Inventory covers a lot of ground. It can be a list of all the stock items you have on hand in your coffee shop, including unroasted beans, souvenir mugs and everything else you offer for sale to your customers. Or it can be an activity you engage in periodically (every month or every quarter) when you count and list all items you have in stock. You will need to be familiar with both definitions of inventory.
You can run your coffee shop more effectively if you do a good job with inventory control. Businesses recognize a number of ways of organizing and moving stock. Because you are working with perishables and seasonal items, you may want to consider a FIFO system (first in, first out). This means you're always trying to get your oldest stock off the shelf and into the hands of consumers.
The coffees, teas, syrups and chocolate sauces you have in inventory are all perishable to some extent. Experts suggest that unroasted coffee beans may have a shelf life as long as a couple of years. After it's roasted, however, your coffee is going to age rapidly. To ensure customers get a fresh cup, or a fresh bag of roasted coffee beans, you must plan your inventory to roll your stock over quickly. Experts say roasted beans aren't much good after six months.
There are several benefits to managing your coffee shop inventory well. Naturally, when you keep fresh products on your shelves and perking in your pots, you will enhance your reputation with coffee lovers. You may not be aware, though, that keeping too much inventory represents a cost to your business: you're paying to store a commodity that may be losing value as it sits on your shelf. Careful tracking of inventory can help you improve your bottom line.
Inventory control is not just paperwork that you can put aside for a day when the shop isn't busy. It's an important part of managing your business. Learn as much as you can about inventory control to help improve your coffee shop's profits. Most businesses will run an inventory once a month, comparing the goods on the list with the goods on the shelf; the difference between what you should have and what you actually have is your "shrink." And while FIFO inventory may be best for your perishables, you may find it expedient to go with a LIFO program (last in, first out) for your seasonal inventory. Always keep good records of inventory so you can implement a continuous improvement program and make changes based on your customers' purchasing preferences.