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Par Level: What It Is & How to Set in Restaurant


In the realm of inventory management, keeping a careful balance between supply and demand is a crucial task. One essential concept that aids in maintaining this balance is the idea of the ‘Par Level.’ This comprehensive guide delves into Par Level Inventory Management, a strategy widely employed across industries for efficient inventory control. 

We will discuss what par levels are, how they differ from other inventory management techniques, factors to consider when setting par levels, and how to calculate them effectively for your business.

What Is Par Level? A Definition and Explanation of Inventory Par Level

Par level refers to the minimum amount of inventory that must be on hand at all times. When inventory drops to this level, a reorder is triggered. The goal of par level is to prevent stockouts (which can lead to lost sales) while also avoiding overstocking (which ties up cash and may lead to unused inventory).

Par levels are set for each inventory item and are typically based on the item’s average usage. However, they’re not static figures – they need to be adjusted regularly based on changing business needs, inventory usage trends, and other factors.

Managing Par Levels

Understanding Par Level in Inventory Management

In the realm of inventory management, par level serves as a crucial benchmark. Its primary purpose is to maintain a healthy inventory turnover rate by aligning inventory levels closely with customer demand. It helps businesses to avoid both stockouts and overstock, two extremes that can negatively impact business operations and profits.

Par level inventory management is particularly beneficial for businesses with a wide range of inventory items. By setting and maintaining par levels, these businesses can manage their stock more effectively, meet customer demand reliably, and save money by reducing waste and excess stock.

The Importance of Par Level in Business Operations

Checking Par Inventory Levels

Using par levels in inventory management can directly influence a business’s bottom line. Here’s how:

  1. Avoiding Stockouts: Regularly running out of popular items can lead to customer dissatisfaction and lost sales. By helping to prevent stockouts, par-level management supports customer satisfaction and retention.
  2. Preventing Overstocking: Overstocking ties up cash in inventory that isn’t selling. This can strain a business’s cash flow and lead to waste if items expire or become obsolete.
  3. Supporting Efficient Operations: By triggering reorders when needed, par levels can streamline the inventory management process and save businesses time.
  4. Reducing Waste: This is particularly important in industries like food service, where items have short expiration dates. By keeping inventory levels in line with demand, par levels can help reduce food waste.

How Par Level Differs from Other Inventory Management Techniques

Par level is a type of inventory management strategy, but it isn’t the only one. It differs from other techniques in several ways:

  • First-In, First-Out (FIFO): This strategy involves selling the oldest inventory first to avoid obsolescence or spoilage. Par level, on the other hand, focuses on maintaining a certain amount of inventory on hand.
  • Just-In-Time (JIT): JIT involves ordering inventory to arrive just as it’s needed, reducing the need for storage space. Par level involves maintaining a minimum amount of stock at all times.
  • ABC Analysis: This strategy involves categorizing inventory based on its value, with high-value items getting the most attention. In contrast, par level management applies to all inventory items, regardless of their value.
  • Safety Stock: Safety stock is an extra amount of inventory kept on hand to guard against variability in demand or supply. While safety stock and par levels can work together, they serve different purposes.

Par Inventory Management - Staff looking at checklist

Factors to Consider When Setting Par Levels

When setting Par Levels in a restaurant, several factors should be considered:

  • Historical Sales Data: Analyze past sales data to identify trends and patterns, helping determine the quantity of ingredients or supplies needed to meet customer demand.
  • Menu Items and Seasonality: Consider the menu offerings and their popularity throughout the year. Adjust Par Levels based on seasonal variations and special promotions.
  • Supplier Lead Time: Account for the time it takes for suppliers to deliver orders. Set Par Levels to ensure you have sufficient stock until the next delivery.
  • Shelf Life and Perishability: Take into account the shelf life and perishability of ingredients or products. Set Par Levels accordingly to avoid wastage or stockouts.
  • Storage Space and Equipment Capacity: Consider the available storage space and equipment capacity. Ensure Par Levels are manageable within the restaurant’s storage capabilities.
  • Sales Forecasts: Utilize sales forecasts and anticipated customer footfall to estimate the required inventory levels accurately.
  • Special Events or Holidays: Plan for special events, holidays, or promotions that may result in increased demand. Adjust Par Levels accordingly to meet customer expectations.

Remember, regularly reviewing and adjusting Par Levels based on changing circumstances is crucial for effective inventory management in a restaurant.

Defining Par Level: Key Components and Terminology

To understand par level inventory management fully, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with some key terms and concepts:

Par Level Terminology

Safety Stock: This is a small surplus of inventory that acts as a buffer against unexpected demand spikes or supply delays. It can help you avoid stockouts without needing to keep large amounts of inventory on hand.

Reorder Point: This is the inventory level at which a new order should be placed. It’s typically set at the par level plus the amount of inventory expected to be used during the lead time.

Lead Time: This refers to the amount of time it takes for an order to arrive after it’s been placed.

Demand Forecasting: This is the process of estimating future customer demand using historical sales data and market analysis. It’s essential for setting accurate par levels.

Inventory Turnover Rate: This metric shows how many times a company’s inventory is sold and replaced over a specific period. A high turnover rate indicates efficient inventory management.

How to Calculate and Set Par Levels for Your Business

Calculating par levels for your business involves analyzing your sales and inventory usage data and considering factors like lead time and safety stock. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Determine Your Lead Time: This is the time it takes from when you place an order to when the items are ready for sale.
  2. Calculate Your Average Daily Sales: Using historical data, calculate how many units of an item you sell per day, on average.
  3. Calculate Your Safety Stock: Consider how much extra stock you want to keep on hand to protect against unexpected demand or supply issues.
  4. Set Your Par Level: The basic par level formula is (average daily sales x lead time) + safety stock. However, remember to adjust this figure based on factors like seasonal demand and supplier reliability.
  5. Monitor and Adjust: Review your par levels regularly and adjust them as necessary based on changes in demand, lead time, or other factors.

 How to calculate Par Level in restaurant Inventory

Adjusting Par Levels Based on Seasonal Demand and Other Variables

While setting initial par levels is crucial, it’s equally important to review and adjust them regularly. Here’s why:

Changing Demand: Customer demand isn’t static. It can change due to factors like seasonal trends, marketing campaigns, and wider economic conditions. Regularly reviewing your par levels allows you to adjust to these changes.

New Products: When introducing new products, you won’t have historical sales data to help you set par levels. You’ll need to estimate initially, then adjust as you gather more sales data.

Supplier Issues: If your suppliers are experiencing issues that impact their delivery times or stock availability, you may need to adjust your par levels to compensate.

Business Growth: As your business grows, your sales velocity will increase, and you’ll likely need to adjust your par levels upwards.

Benefits of Implementing Par Level Inventory Management

Implementing a par level inventory management system can offer several benefits:

  • Improved Stock Control and Reduced Stockouts: You can avoid running out of stock by maintaining optimal inventory levels, leading to lost sales and unhappy customers.
  • Enhanced Cash Flow Management: Avoiding overstocking can prevent cash from being tied up in unsold inventory. This can improve your cash flow and financial health.
  • Streamlined Ordering and Replenishment Processes: With par level management, reordering becomes straightforward. When stock levels fall to the par level, it’s time to reorder.

Manage accurate Par Levels

Potential Challenges and Limitations of Par Level Inventory Management

While par level inventory management offers many benefits, it also presents some challenges:

  • Inaccurate Demand Forecasting: Par level management relies heavily on accurate forecasting. If your forecasts are off, your par levels will be, too, leading to stockouts or overstock.
  • Need for Regular Monitoring and Adjustments: Par levels aren’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution. They need to be monitored and adjusted regularly, which can be time-consuming.
  • Balancing with Other Inventory Control Methods: Par level is one of many inventory management strategies. It must be balanced with other strategies, like safety stock and just-in-time (JIT) inventory, to provide the best results.

Key Takeaways

  1. Understanding Par Levels: Par level is the minimum amount of stock that should be kept on hand to meet customer demand. This technique in inventory management is crucial to avoid stockouts and lost sales.
  2. Importance of Par Levels: Par level inventory management is essential to ensure a healthy inventory turnover rate. It can help businesses avoid having too much or too little inventory, leading to enhanced cash flow and reduced waste.
  3. Calculating Par Levels: Par levels are determined based on factors like average inventory usage, lead time, and safety stock. It’s important to regularly review and adjust par levels based on changing demand patterns and business needs.
  4. Benefits of Par Level Management: Implementing a par level system can improve stock control, enhance cash flow management, and streamline ordering processes. It helps businesses optimize their inventory levels, improving overall efficiency and profitability.
  5. Challenges of Par Level Management: Despite its benefits, par level management has its challenges, including the need for accurate demand forecasting and regular monitoring. Balancing it with other inventory management strategies can provide optimal results.
  6. Real-world Application: Various industries like restaurants, retail, and e-commerce use par level management to control their inventory effectively, reduce waste, and meet customer demand.
  7. The Bottom Line: Par level inventory management plays a pivotal role in a successful inventory management strategy. It involves careful planning, regular monitoring, and adjustments based on trends and changes in demand, but the payoff in terms of cost control and customer satisfaction makes it worthwhile.
Picture of Dominik Bartoszek

Dominik Bartoszek

8+ years Digital Marketer driven by data & AI. Helping restaurants grow more through online orders.

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