Bar Management: Ordering and Invoicing 101

By Rachael Perry


Rachael Perry

March 2, 2016

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

What’s the most important part of bar management for you? Finding the best cocktail recipes? Promoting your bar on Facebook?

What about controlling your bar’s liquor inventory?

It’s the least sexy part of being a bartender, we know. But without efficient inventory management and solid processes behind the scenes, it’s difficult to run a successful bar.

Understanding exactly how to do liquor inventory is the first step.

Next, you’ll need to keep an organized record of your orders and invoices—of everything you bought and sold, and when.

However, ordering and invoicing for a business is complicated. Especially for a bar.

It involves endless paper trails, a high volume and variety of product flow, and the need to coordinate with many different people. Some bar managers use traditional pen-and-paper methods, and others make it easier with inventory management software.

We’re here to shed some light on the complexities of bar management, which include learning how to manage invoicing and ordering for your bar.

Let’s get down to business.

Bar management

Find out how to take inventory 3x faster.

Ordering Inventory for a Bar

After counting your liquor inventory and determining your usage, it’s time to put together that order.

  1. Take the invoices from last week’s order and enter them into the excel sheet that contains your usage totals. You’ll compare this usage to last week’s invoices, and determine how much product you went through versus what you took in.
  2. Once you have compared the numbers, go through and create your new order totals, looking at what you have in-house versus what you should have for the next week. You should be able to check your pars to easily determine what next week’s order totals should be (find out how to set pars for your bar here).
  3. Sort through each liquor category and create order totals for each type.
  4. Stop. Review the totals, and ask yourself if you really need all that liquor. Always consider ways to reduce your sitting inventory.
  5. Once you’re satisfied with the order, segment the totals into distributor categories.
  6. Now it’s time to call in each order to your reps. Allow enough time to get those orders in before the deadline, and avoid surrendering to any upsells they offer; you probably don’t need this extra product—it’s usually unnecessary spend and it’ll take up valuable space on your shelves.
  7. When the liquor orders are delivered, check the invoice sheet against the delivered product and make sure the numbers match. Identify any discrepancies, and save these invoices for next week, filing appropriately.

Let's Walk You Through

How to Manage Your Bar’s Invoices

An important part of taking liquor inventory is knowing how much product you’ve used (or lost) during a given period. But without keeping track of your invoices and comparing them to your usage and sales data—which we’ll look at in part 3 of this blog series—you won’t know what was sold and when.

Without a visible invoice history, it will be impossible to track whether or not product has been sold, gone missing, or been given away for free. You won’t be able to monitor pour costs or easily calculate drink prices.

Bar managers need to adequately control their invoicing process for the following reasons:

  • Determining usage in dollars
  • Setting appropriate pars for all liquor
  • Tracking spending
  • Comparing this spend to sales income
  • Managing pour costs
  • Lowering sitting inventory

There’s no easy way to track a paper trail of invoices. Unless you invest in ordering and invoicing software that’ll do it for you, it’s simply going to take time and organizational skills. We generally recommend filing invoices in date order, and then alphabetically by distributor. But if you can further categorize them by liquor type, you’ll save some extra time. This way, when you’re comparing invoices with the PMIX report from your POS, you’ll have the most recent invoices clearly categorized and readily available.

Without an organized and efficient invoicing system, it’s impossible to keep track of your sales history, of what you used and how much, of what worked and what didn’t. This information is crucial to better managing your sitting inventory, pars, orders, and profitability in the future.

In part 3 of this series, we’ll go through the step-by-step process of exactly how to do this.

Ordering and invoicing for a business can be a painful process. So we decided to make it easier.

With BevSpot’s inventory software, your usage counts, orders, and invoices are kept in one easy-to-use platform. Orders are automatically generated and sent to all your reps with one click. Invoice history, POS data, and all those important sales numbers are displayed in one clean package.

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