“So much better than the old way”

Restaurateurs can find significant long-term savings by investing in a technology-based wine inventory system.

The restaurant industry has traditionally been notoriously slow when it comes to adopting new technologies. After all, if something works, why change it? Wine inventory is no exception — countless restaurants still track wines by laboriously hand-counting and measuring, before writing everything down in a book or binder.

“I’d guess 80 per cent of restaurants are still doing it the old way,” estimates Steve Schmietenknop, bar manager and wine director at Vancouver’s Gotham Steakhouse. But, for him, the time and labour costs had become too much. Until recently, two Gotham employees would spend two days each month taking inventory by counting, measuring, recording and adding everything up. Thankfully, he says, those days are gone. Gotham recently implemented an AccuBarinventory system, and Schmietenknop couldn’t be more thrilled. So far he has completed two inventories with the new system, and each time it only took one person about six hours to do the whole thing — a huge change from two people spending two eight-hour days on the process.“It’s so much better than the old way,” he enthuses.

The AccuBar system features a hand-held device with a keypad and a barcode scanner, which is used to scan each bottle of wine while completing inventory counts. When the process is complete, simply click “send inventories,” which according to Schmieten-knop, eliminates “your entire second day.” He’s impressed with numerous other features offered by the system, including its ability to communicate with a POS system and update inventory daily as well as generate an updated wine list. He stresses part of the reason Gotham chose this particular system was because of the supplier’s customer-service standards.

According to AccuBar, the company’s inventory systems can range from $3,800 to approximately $6,000 for initial implementation, with monthly access fees running from $75 to $125 per month. Schmietenknop says it’s well worth the investment. The savings in labour costs alone will make up for the initial investment in no time, he explains, adding that the biggest benefits for him are “speed, accuracy and the elimination of the second person for labour.”