Pivoting During the Pandemic: Yellow Dog Revolutionizes Restaurant Inventory

If you don’t know what your inventory is, you don’t know what your margins are, and you don’t know what you’re making, you’re dead in the water.

When the pandemic shut down the restaurant industry a quarter of the way through 2020, it changed nearly every facet of the traditional restaurant operating experience. However, despite the difficulties every restaurant faced, the industry has risen from the proverbial ashes with a newfound focus. 

From the drive-thru and kitchen to the stockroom and office, restaurants have been allowed to reset, rebuild, and improve. The same can be said for every process performed by restaurant staff. As restaurants continue recovering, operators have kept a closer eye on their revenue to ensure they remain successful. 

A big piece of the revenue puzzle is tied directly to inventory tracking. One of the easiest ways to prevent lost revenue is to maintain proper inventory levels for all products, helping reduce pre- and post-consumer waste. As a result, restaurants spend less on ingredients, learn more about how their dishes are selling, and reduce unnecessary food waste. 

We caught up with the team at Yellow Dog Software to learn more about the inventory process and why more restaurants should keep a closer eye on it.

How did COVID-19 impact your customers?

A lot of them… obviously weren’t operating. It was a rare pause to course-correct, do some soul-searching and get everything in order. It was time to get their physical inventory process together. Now, you have to be so much tighter on your controls.  

If you don’t know what your inventory is, you don’t know what your margins are, and you don’t know what you’re making, you’re dead in the water.


What pandemic initiatives have you implemented that are here for the long haul?  

One small thing that’s had a big effect is developing better pricing that’s clearer. Knowing it’s hard for everybody, everybody is overwhelmed and needs clear directives to make quick decisions. 

Another change; a standard reporting overhaul in the system. We set up each client with reports that are sent to them directly at regular intervals instead of them going and pulling it. Our reports are 100% customizable still, but we try to remove the extra lift from our new clients and give them something automated right off the bat.

What will be the lasting impact of the pandemic on the restaurant industry?

Everybody needs to watch their bottom line with laser precision, and inventory is their number one asset.

Some brands slimmed down their menus to compensate for increased takeout/delivery orders and smaller workforces. What was the biggest trend you saw from the brands you work with?

A lot of restaurants shifted from only doing food and beverage to also selling creative merchandise to their loyal fans. They’ve shifted because they didn’t have a choice; they had to explore other revenue streams.

Food waste is a concern for many restaurants but has taken on a more critical role this year. How can restaurants reduce food waste and maintain margins without increasing prices?

First, they have to know what the food waste is and why it’s being wasted. Are they overbuying, over-prepping? Are they not rotating products properly? Our reporting gives them a lot of that information.  

The adage “Mind your P’s and Q’s” actually comes from “Mind your Pints and Quarts” in a bar, as an owner telling his staff the numbers aren’t right. The owner or operator can determine where the waste is coming from and change their process, with the right system.


What is Yellow Dog doing to continue pushing innovation in 2021 and beyond?  

We’ve released an all-new version this year with more features than any previous version. We are constantly improving the software with our development team.  

The majority of our development comes from client feedback. Our clients are the ones in the trenches; they know what information they need access to. As a small company, Yellow Dog Inventory is nimble to address those needs and execute. 


Anything else you’d like to add?

Our support is incredible. In-house, we don’t outsource it. We don’t drop the software in our clients’ laps; they get a workable, functioning system with trained employees. Inventory is all we do, and we’re the masters of it. 

It’s June 2021 now, and we are hopeful for the industry. Internally, we are ramping up new support and implementation hires to accommodate the unprecedented recovery we are witnessing. 

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