4 Inventory Management Tips for Plumbers
Most plumbers carry around a large suite of parts and materials in their truck. This inventory allows them to complete many different kinds of repairs right away, saving them valuable time and impressing customers. But, as a plumber, there are so many different appliances and pipes you might work with that you can’t exactly keep track of your inventory with just your memory. Here are some important tips to help you better your inventory management.
How Does Proper Inventory Management Help You?
Before we delve into the tips, it is important to understand the “why.” How can keeping better track of your inventory help you? Here’s how:
- Avoid duplicate purchases: You think this is your last toilet flapper from this specific brand, so you go out and buy two more. But, later, you find that there were actually three more in your vehicle. You’ve spent unnecessarily, cutting into your cash flow and your time.
- Inform customers accurately: You told a customer that you could definitely fix their water heater today. But when you get to the truck, you can’t find the part you need. If you also can’t find it at the supply store, your customer will be frustrated that you can’t get the repairs done today.
- Save yourself time: You find yourself double-checking how many parts you have each time you use one, just for the peace of mind of knowing how many you have left. That wastes your time.
- Know what you’ll need: How many plunger assemblies or stem adapters do you actually use per month? A good inventory management system will tell you, so you can make sure you have what you need in stock and only what you need.
1. Use Software
Once you adapt to an app or a software product meant for tracking inventory, you will not want to go back to paper or relying on your own memory. There are many different software options which can include features like accessing your inventory from anywhere through the cloud, keeping a tally of how many of which parts you’ve used this month or year, and easily scanning your inventory into the system. Software can alert you if a part is getting low, or let you share inventory information more easily with all of your technicians.
2. Label Parts and Match the Label
Sometimes our work vehicles feel like our own domain, where we know every little nook and cranny. But rare few are the people who can keep it that way. To make it easier to manage your inventory, label all of the containers and storage spots in your truck. Add the label to the software too, so it can always direct you to where your part should be stored.
3. Audit Your Inventory
A full clean and audit of everything in your truck on a semi-annual basis will keep it looking good and ensure that it is simpler to manage. Even with digital inventory management software, mistakes still happen and auditing catches them.
4. Talk to the Supplier
When your own inventory is under control, the supplier’s inventory becomes the stress point. What happens if they run out of critical parts you use every day or the price of certain parts jumps dramatically? Suppliers usually know when stock is getting low in certain parts and may be able to recommend temporary alternatives.