Every year, pool and spa businesses fall victim to inaccuracies in inventory that can lead to thousands of dollars in lost profits. The busy summer season invariably leads to sales staff that give products away, service professionals that grab products from store shelves and office staff that neglects to track warranties. However, by implementing tight inventory control systems pool and spa businesses can regain control of their inventory in order to maintain sanity and increase profitability in our ever increasing, fast-paced business environment.
Pool and spa professionals agree that in order to compete with big box stores, it has become imperative to tighten logistics and manage inventory right down to your service trucks. There is a fine line between having too much and too little inventory. Because of its importance, it’s vital for you to make inventory a priority. If you start with accurate inventory and maintain it with software, then you are well on your way to taking control of your inventory.
One of the most important pool inventory control systems available is the ability to integrate your inventory system with that of your vendor suppliers. Specific pool and spa business software programs offer complete, pre-programmed inventory control systems that communicate inventory levels in real-time using vendor integrations. These pool industry integrations allow pool and spa businesses to check vendor orders, status and available inventory before even placing your orders. This invaluable information also allows your purchasing agents to take advantage of the Early Buy discounts and flexible delivery options from vendors that will ensure you have the inventory you need when you need it, rather than sitting on thousands of dollars of inventory before your customers walk into your physical or online-store.
Real time inventory is one of the most powerful and profitable metrics for any business. Targeting inventory dollars to the department or product types with the highest gross margins can increase profitability. There is nothing worse than sitting on $100K of inventory that isn’t needed or should never have been ordered. Your business software should provide owners and managers the inventory control information they need to make smart business decisions. Having real time information at your fingertips allows you to carry less-inventory so you can also service your customers better, control costs and make better buying decisions. But the software is only as good as its inputs, so be sure you get systems in place and buy-in by everyone in your organization to ensure all information is accurate.
The beauty of having pool and spa specific Point of Sale software is that it automates inventory management control systems in many ways. These software programs offer quick and easy inventory reports designed specifically to provide pool and spa retailers and service companies the inventory information they need in order to make important marketing and purchasing decisions. Additionally, these inventory control systems ensure pool and spa businesses maintain a clean inventory database with the ability to combine inventory items even if there are duplicates in the Point of Sale system due to a misplaced dash or incorrect number.
As pool and spa businesses begin their physical inventory process in the beginning of 2021, be sure to use your pool and spa business software to make the task less daunting by giving your staff the ability to do physical inventory using the paper method from printed reports within your business software or by using a handheld data collector. You can even do inventory through your smartphone or tablet by using a mobile-live system.
Most importantly, the best software programs that offer inventory control systems include an Inventory Adjustment module that makes it easy to import inventory lists from a pre-existing software system or from your local distributors and suppliers – even from Excel spreadsheets!
Using a robust inventory control system allows your business to increase inventory turns by having optimum levels of on-hand inventory. The many business software tools available will help you manage cycle counts, tighten logistics and give you renewed control over your inventory.
Now that virtually all business software is mobile be sure that you have inventory control management system that is accessible to all employees through their mobile devices. Not only does this empower business managers, but it also empowers employees who can quickly see where a product is located. Mobile Live Retail and Mobile Live Service control software apps, reduce stress for sales employees trying to help customers and service professionals trying to complete a job. In addition, using mobile devices to track inventory can help you create incentives for employees to make inventory management a priority. For managers, having a snapshot of all areas of the business from retail to service and construction, provides data to implement a new marketing campaign, make a smarter purchasing decision and change the course of the business—whether it be a response to competitors or a shift in the market due to weather or larger event like the shift in consumer demands because of the pandemic.
Tip from the field: Don’t forget your service trucks
Most pool and spa professionals are fairly good about keeping track of inventory in their retail store. But things quickly go awry in the field, either in service or construction. So the best place to begin taking control of your inventory is on your service truck(s). Here are some tips to get you started:
- Identify each service truck(s) as a separate ‘location’ or ‘warehouse’
- Make a ‘standard’ inventory for each service truck
- Create an inventory spot in the warehouse for each service truck. Label that area ‘Joe’s Truck’ and work strictly from that one area, shelf or pallet
- Try to use case quantities on the truck—this allows purchasing to run inventory reports more efficiently
- If you have more than one service vehicle, work on one truck at a time
Companies that make the commitment to managing inventory at the service truck level will never regret the decision.
In order to maximize the benefit of having begun the season with accurate inventory, smart businesses maintain their inventory with inventory control system software so they can truly take control of their stock. Don’t fall victim to inaccuracies or be overrun with frustration, missed sales, surprising shortages and lost income. Be sure to choose a robust inventory control system that includes:
- Real time Inventory with unlimited crossover part numbers & vendor integrations
- Mass inventory adjustments & mobile live access by all staff members
- Automated ordering methods & a Wish List ordering communication tool
- Purchasing, Receiving and Accounts Payable Costing
And don’t forget to manage your pool and spa inventory right down to the service truck level! You’ll be thanking yourself at the end of the season!