restaurant wasteRestaurant waste can take a big bite out of a business’ bottom line. According to a study by the University of Arizona, the percentage of food waste in quick-service and full-service restaurants stands at 9.55 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively. The potential savings is definitely motivation to reduce waste, but some restaurants find it hard to put a waste reduction plan in place. However, reducing restaurant waste can be easy when you leverage your point of sale (POS) system. Here’s how:

1. Use past sales data to better forecast the quantities you need

Reports generated by the POS system offer deep insight into how much of each ingredient is used with each menu item sold on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. With this data, operators can more accurately forecast future needs and order food and ingredients in quantities that reflect real consumption patterns. The more closely orders match sales forecasts based on POS data, the less restaurant waste there will be.

Historical POS data can also be used to create prep plans for individual items. Kitchen staff, from the most inexperienced to the most veteran, can use these insights to prepare only the amount of food needed for each shift or daypart and avoid excesses that lead to waste.

2. Automate inventory management tasks

Proper inventory control is critical to minimizing restaurant waste. A  POS system with inventory management paves the way by allowing restaurant operators to automate inventory management tasks that might be delayed or performed inaccurately.

For example, the inventory management module of your POS system enables you to closely track every ingredient included in a recipe, appetizer, entrée, or dessert. This prevents over-ordering and waste that stems from product spoilage before it can be used.

Comprehensive inventory management software incorporated into a POS system also enables restaurant operators to set minimal stock levels for individual ingredient SKUs.  Because there is no guesswork about whether an ingredient should be reordered and in what quantity, there is less waste.

3. Improve order accuracy

Restaurant waste doesn’t only result from poor planning and inventory control. It’s also a consequence of inaccurate order taking and food preparation. Mobile POS can help by allowing wait staff to take orders right at the table, eliminating the need to walk to a stationary terminal to input an order based on memory or handwriting.

Once the order is entered, a kitchen display system (KDS) can convey orders to kitchen prep areas on monitor in easy-to-read formats, helping all parts of meal prep to be coordinated so it’s ready at the same time — and nothing is returned because it’s overdone or cold. A KDS also lets prep staff know when a customer changes or cancels an item after it has been ordered to avoid waste.

There is little debate that controlling restaurant waste can increase profits, as well as contribute to an efficiently run kitchen that supports a growing business. Put your POS system to work to achieve these goals and position your restaurant for efficiency and long-term success.