by Rachael Pritz, RB Pool & Spa
Inventory control is a key component in running a lean and profitable business. Now is the time to take advantage of new mobile technology integrated into today’s business software programs that provide the tools needed to tighten logistics, manage cycle counts and gain a renewed sense of control over inventory, even on service trucks. Don't fall victim to inventory inaccuracies or be frustrated by missed sales, surprising shortages and lost income. To avoid writing off large amounts of inventory this coming season, implement an inventory management system that will pay for itself in the first year.
Putting an inventory plan into place tends to be an easy business decision—especially when some pool and spa businesses have been known to write off $50,000-150,000 of inventory per year. But to have a successful plan, all employees responsible for inventory, including service techs, must buy into and be held accountable. Don’t expect to get this type of plan implemented in one weekend. Now is the time to put a plan in place to make the most in savings during the busy summer season.
It’s important to begin by creating an inventory spot in the warehouse for each service truck. It will be much simpler for an in-house employee to manage service truck inventory if they don’t need the actual truck in front of them. Consider using pallets, bins or shelves designated for each truck. This is becomes a “flex” service truck inventory and should be counted as one unit. To make it easier to implement a comprehensive inventory plan that includes service vehicles, look for a software solution like RB Mobile Live that allows inventory to be done through smartphone or tablet.
Standard truck inventory
Come up with a standard inventory truck stock and fit the truck to it. Strip the truck down and count every single piece you put back. Do this one truck at a time over the course of a few weeks.
Use ‘stock sites’ within your business software
Set up your warehouses within the business software system, such as “Bill’s Service Truck”. This allows you to manage the truck inventory like managing multiple warehouses. Use re-order system alerts to hone-in on inventory levels. Be sure to use case quantities so you don’t have to replenish constantly. If a tech needs filter cleaner on their truck, give them a case from the pallet and let them pull it as needed! This allows the operations person to run inventory reports at their leisure and replenish the stock site as needed. The RB Simple Search inventory feature allows businesses to search inventory by department, vendor, category, or by typing any portion of the item’s description. This makes managing products, including transferring stock from trucks to store or between trucks, far easier.
Implementing an inventory plan that includes service trucks will be enhanced by using mobile technology business software that provides accurate, real-time inventory for increased turns while ensuring optimum inventory levels. Inventory history will then accurately report gross margin and turn data, resulting in better buying decisions so managers can carry less product.
There’s nothing worse than sitting on $100,000 of products that aren’t needed. Take the time now to implement an inventory control system down to the level of your service trucks and reap big benefits at the end of the season!
About the author:
Rachael Pritz has been active in the pool industry for more than 20 years, which has provided her with an all-encompassing expertise in the trade. She worked at a local pool store while pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh, Pa. With her technical skills and industry knowledge, she joined the launch of RB Retail & Service Solutions in Pittsburgh in 2003. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].