What is a food and beverage stocktake or stock audit?

20/10/2017 Venners Ltd.

“We love to go back to the basics, not just because it’s in our nature, but because it’s what we’re all about: making stock control simple. As our company was a front runner in introducing the practice of stocktaking to the licensed trade, we know a thing or two about food and beverage stocktaking. We hope this short article sheds some light on what we’re best known for.

– Scott Hulme, Managing Director, Venners

Updated 15/01/2022

What is a food and beverage stocktake or stock audit?

Good question.

The Collins Dictionary defines a ‘stocktake’ as a count and check of goods on hand in a shop or business. Sound pretty simple, no?

The hospitality industry has been carrying out food and beverage stocktakes – or as they are sometimes called, ‘stock audits’ – for over 125 years. Although the concept and practice of stocktakes and stock audits is not limited to our particular sector, we would argue that the food and beverage stocktake is one of the most complex types of stock audits you will find.

It would of course be helpful to explain the benefits a food and beverage stocktake or stock audit brings to pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses, but for the sake of time we will focus this blog article on the ins and outs of what exactly a food and beverage stocktake or stock audit is.

So, back to explaining what exactly a food and beverage stocktake or stock audit is.


How is food and beverage stock counted?

Counting stock (or products) seems like a fairly straightforward task. But if you were to ask the individual responsible for recording the amount of food and beverage stock their business holds, we guarantee you that they would disagree.

A food and beverage stocktake or stock audit is sadly not as simple as just scanning product barcodes and going down aisles systematically. No, in the context of the hospitality industry you are looking at products scattered throughout a venue, and depending on the products, counts that are affected by a huge variety of measuring quantities.

For example, a venue might store food and beverage products in their fridge, but they will also have a special wine cellar, as well as a dry food storage area, and not to mention the bar in the customer facing part of the venue – and what’s in those boxes in the corridor?

On top of that there will be quantity variances in kegs containing alcohol, a huge range of products, and each product stored may vary in brand and / or size. The food and beverage stocktake or stock audit itself therefore very much requires a great eye for detail and a systematic – dare we call it: scientific – approach.


How often should you count stock?

Because of the continuous fluidity of incoming and outgoing products, particularly in high quantity volumes, the food and beverage stocktake or stock audit is not a once a year undertaking.

To keep the inventory list up-to-date and manageable, it is necessary to complete the audits as regularly as possible. This usually ranges between monthly and quarterly frequency. The accuracy and benefits of the stock results, however, always improve with the frequency the audits are completed.


Who completes the stocktake?

A business will typically assign a bar manager or supervisor to carry out the food and beverage stocktake or stock audit. Ensuring this gets done regularly is a huge task, and often falls outside of the top priority list due to their busy working schedules.

The food and beverage stocktakes or stock audits therefore often do not get done at all. And even if the assigned individual does somehow scramble together enough time to carry out the count, the process and attention for detail required for the task is often neglected because of the time pressure involved. Their stocktake, stock audit, count, call it whatever you like, will be returned with duplicates and/or missing products. You can certainly assume too that this collection of data and detail will not be collated into a statistical report; effectively rendering the stocktake or stock audit useless for comparison to former and future audits.

Many operators will rightfully call in the help of professional stocktakers, such as Venners, who will not only complete the task efficiently, but also meticulously. These are trained individuals, specifically selected for their higher capacity in maths related subjects. Using count sheets they will analyse a venue and its storage facilities and begin their systematic count of all food and beverage products in the venue. But that’s not where it ends.


What should a stocktake report contain?

A good food and beverage stocktake or stock audit will result in a useful report that can be reconciled against revenue, itemised sales and promotion reports from EPOS. During the food and beverage stocktake or stock audit these additional actions will be undertaken:

  1. Selling prices will be checked to tariff and / or to the tills
  2. Checking that all incoming products that were due to be delivered have in fact been received.
  3. Large or unusual variances in the inventory list will be rechecked.
  4. Random date checks
  5. Cash counts & banking books / slips checked

All this data will be gathered into a full food and beverage stocktake or stock audit report: useful for oversight of inventory, and in terms of yield, margins and most importantly GP.


What is a stocktake for?

The food and beverage stocktake or stock audit report is the key to allowing businesses to analyse where in their operations potential revenue is lost. An experienced stocktaker will often be able to identify the key factors contributing to this lost revenue, ranging from out-of-date products to serious staff theft.

A consistent and thorough food and beverage stocktake or stock audit is an essential part of a hospitality business’ operations. Speak to us if your business needs help with this task.