All restaurant owners who serve alcohol and bar owners with liquor licenses who are reading this know and understand the (PLCB) Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board requirement for keeping your business records–which include your liquor, beer and wine receipts–on the premises. Fairly recently, though, Act 113 of 2011 changed the requirement of keeping your records on premises from “two years” to “the most recent six-month period,” along with other minor caveats. In order not to violate the requirements of the Act, those records must be available for inspection during regular working hours. If they are not available within reason, a citation may be issued.

While the PLCB has their reasons for wanting to be able to inspect your receipts, that should not be the only motivating factor that keeps you on your toes about your beer and liquor receipts. Here are just some of the reasons why keeping track of those records is an integral part of the success of your Pennsylvania restaurant or bar.

They Guide Your Purchasing Decisions

Aside from keeping records as per the law, those records, especially your liquor, beer and wine receipts, should play a much larger part in running your business profitably.  For you, the operator, the information contained in those receipts can help you monitor and control your inventory expense, one of your largest expenditures every month.

Obviously, the more you sell, the more you need to spend on inventory turnover. One of the primary topics covered by our offices at the Speciality Group when consulting with new operators about their newly acquired business is their expenses. Rent, debt service, payroll, and replacement of inventory are the top concerns, in our opinion, when planning a new operation. It’s important to understand the overall ratio of operating costs that can lead to your success, no matter how perfect the concept is you need to understand the ideal ratio to spend and focus your capital.

Knowing your purchase history of the quantities of an item you are buying to satisfy your customers’ needs helps you to control and understand what and how much you should have on hand. This scenario helps illustrate the situation: Exactly how many extra kegs did you buy for St. Patrick’s Day last year? If you can easily find the answer to this question, that information can help tremendously so that you can avoid having expensive inventory or simply too much inventory on the shelves that simply doesn’t sell. After all, how much green beer can you sell in April? Or if you have to order a specialized vodka, or even Kobe Beef, It goes beyond seasonal trends and factors into what you need to consider year-round.Think about it: Buying too much ties up raw money and squeezes cash flow.

They Help You Know Your Customers

Your customer base knows what it likes to drink. If asked what beer you sell the most, you could probably immediately blurt out a specific brand. That’s easy. Knowing the brands that your customers want, however, is a different story and is another key to a successful business. As your customers’ tastes change, you must also change with them. Every day, it seems there is a new vodka or craft beer that customers are asking for. So, again, refer to those receipts! They easily identify the changes in your customers’ tastes as well as in your buying habits having the receipts and having that information handy could easily create the success of your business.

The Bottom Line

Over the years, our restaurant service and real estate division has sold more licensed establishments than we can count. Looking back on those transactions, I recall the same questions being asked by potential buyers: “Can we see the liquor and beer receipts?” Why? Because you can only sell what you buy and this shows the true picture of what the costs and sales should be. and information is king when it comes to selling. The numbers extrapolated from your receipts will play a key role in getting your business sold when the time comes.

So, go find that milk crate you’ve been throwing those liquor, beer and wine receipts into. Then, take the time to put them in order and study the history. Make a spreadsheet, even! You will be surprised at what you will learn from those slips of paper. By monitoring their content regularly, you will not only have on hand what will satisfy your customer’s needs and how much you’ll sell, but you’ll also run a leaner, more profitable operation. Remember, this is a fast paced business you need to be able to see what trends are happening and what needs to be changed, this is a constantly evolving world and you need to stay ahead of the curve.