How often do you find yourself saying things like this:
- 'Where the heck is the part I need for this job?'
- 'We have too much money tied up in stock.'
- 'We have to delay this job because the part we needed didn't arrive on time from the supplier.'
- 'That customer is going to be mad that we don't have the right parts to finish the job today.
- 'We forgot to invoice for the parts on this job...again!'
- 'We never know when we need to reorder a part until it's crunch time.'
If it's—well, ever—it may be because you're relying on a manual stock management system, or even no system at all. While this may be okay if you're a very small business (and you want to stay very small), if you're big enough to have a stockroom, a digital stock management system is the way to eliminate these problems.
(Not ready to go digital just yet? We have a middle way that can help you: Download our free set of stock control spreadsheets. It's a simple tool that will help you track your stock, know when to reorder parts, and know exactly where each part is stored.)
Should I digitalise my stock management?
Yes, and here's why. Digitalised stock management:
- Gives you more visibility into what you have and where it is.
- Makes it easy to know when you need to reorder parts.
- Increases the efficiency of your entire workflow.
- Saves money (and keeps you from tying up all your capital in stock).
- Saves you valuable time.
- Boosts customer satisfaction.
Let's get into (much) more detail on each one.
1. Digital stock management gives you more visibility.
If you're using a manual (or no) stock control system, your spare parts could be anywhere: in any of the dozens of bins in your stock room, in an engineer's service van, or even for sale on the internet. So when you need a particular part for job, you don't know where it is—and you may even end up buying a duplicate just to get the job done. With a digital stock management system, on the other hand, you'll always have a complete overview of where each part is.
2. Digitising your stock makes it easy to know when you need to reorder parts.
Can you trust your engineers 100% to fill out your stock sheet each and every time they take a part out of the stock room? Or to update it if they end up putting the part back? Or, in fact, to even put the part back if it ends up they didn't need it?
We're not trying to put down your engineers, because they have other things to worry about than using a clunky paper form every time they need a part for a job. The problem isn't the engineers—it's the paper.
A digital stock management system makes it easy to check parts in and out of the stock room, which in turn ups the accuracy of your parts orders. You can be sure that the stock numbers you're seeing are updated and correct, so you can reorder with confidence.
3. Digital stock management increases the efficiency of your entire workflow.
From the moment a customer calls to when you send off the invoice for a job, digital stock management makes everything flow better. Like so:
- The customer calls and says they're having a problem with their boiler.
- You have a good idea of what the problem is, and can instantly see that you have the part in stock—and exactly where it's located.
- Your engineer can get to the customer quickly because they weren't held up looking for the part in a disorganised stock room (or going to grab it and discovering it was missing).
- You know exactly how much that part cost, so you can create an accurate estimate.
- The job is completed quickly, making your customer's on-site experience a good one.
- You're able to automatically invoice for the right amount, including the price of the parts you used and the correct markup on those parts.
Having your stock management digitalised improved the entire process, from beginning to end.
4. Digitalising your stock saves money.
We already talked above about stolen or missing parts, which of course cost your business money. Later, we'll discuss customer satisfaction; happy customers save you money because 'acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one,' reports Harvard Business Review.
Then there's the stock you're paying for but simply not using. When you digitalise your stock, you can integrate it into your field service management system, which lets you take advantage of the data from all parts of your business to figure out exactly how much stock you need. For example, you might use sales data and job histories to figure out what times of the year your customers are most likely to need certain repairs, so you can get just the right stock in ahead of time—rather than guessing at a number and hoping for the best.
An example: When industry component manufacturer Angst+Pfister optimised their stock management with digital processes, their warehouse stock decreased by 28% in just ten months, according to the Inform Blog. Having only the stock you need, when you need it, frees up your capital to invest in other parts of your business.
5. Digital stock processes save you valuable time.
Here are just a few of the stock-related problems that waste time in your business:
- Searching for missing stock.
- Searching for lost stock sheets.
- Deciphering your engineers' handwriting on those stock sheets.
- Manually checking stock in and out of the stock room.
- Doing inventory with a pencil and paper.
- Not getting stock orders in on time from your suppliers (and not realizing it because you're not tracking those orders).
- Having to put off jobs because you don't have the right parts.
Digital stock management either takes these time-wasters off your hands, or automates them so they get done faster.
6. Digital stock management boosts customer satisfaction.
It's easy to get so caught up in the details of stock management that you forget the purpose behind it all: Serving your customer so well that they come back to you again and again. Faster service, better estimates, and more accurate invoices—thanks to your stellar stock management—are all benefits that make customers happy.
If you're ready to improve your stock management, but not quite ready to invest in a software solution, we have something just for you: A set of free stock management spreadsheets. This simple tool will help you track your stock, keep your stock at just the right levels, and keep your supplier contacts organised. Just click on the banner below to get your spreadsheets now.