If you’re serious about cementing the growth you’ve worked so hard to secure, it’s essential to take control of your stock with the right software.
Whether you’re running a plumbing business, work in heating, fire & security (or really any field service business) that relies on parts and stock, you don’t want their mismanagement to cause your profits to fall.
While there’ll always be factors that are out of your control, it’s important to recognise there are things you can do to both mitigate risk and, in some cases, even entirely prevent profit loss.
In this instance, we're talking about getting control over your stock and inventory management with stock management software.
There may have been a time when spreadsheets and paper forms were all you needed to keep a close eye on these things, but if you’re running a fleet of vans—with 5, 15, or 50+ engineers running jobs every day—a comprehensive digital solution with stock management software will give you the control you really need.
- Stop buying parts you’ve already got in stock (and easily reorder the ones you do need)!
- Prevent parts from sitting around in engineers’ vans.
- Establish order with workflows and a stockroom app.
If it turns out you’re haemorrhaging cash because you forgot that batch of expensive piping is actually still in Steve's van, or those very pricey filters are all broken because they’ve been sliding around in trucks for the past year, you'd have to admit: that’s on you!
It’s time to take responsibility and get serious about preventing profit loss with a stock control solution that gives you the ability to deliver world-class customer journeys.
With the right stock management solution in place, you can provide a more professional service with higher first-time fix rates, maximise your profitability, and more.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of a stock management software:
1. Stop buying parts you’ve already got in stock (and easily reorder the ones you do need)!
There’s little else more frustrating than spending money on something you don’t need.
To use a personal example:
It’s like if I bought two giant jars of marmite (bear with me). As much as I love the stuff, I know that I don’t get through it very quickly and, of course, now that I’ve mistakenly bought two jars, it’s obvious that one of them is going to sit there for months, untouched at the back of the cupboard. The worst part is that I’ll probably forget about the spare jar, meaning I end up with a third one that’ll never get opened!
Silly as my example may be, I’d bet good money a similar thing has happened with stock you’ve bought, too.
Whether it’s because of a slump sales, a lack of repair jobs, or perhaps the demand for a particular asset has just been next-to-non-existent: you don’t want to end having more stock than you need, especially if they're expensive items.
Fortunately, being able to track what you’ve bought and where it’s stored, as well as how many of each item you have left, will make it significantly easier to prevent this sort of problem from arising.
These sorts of solutions, thanks to cloud-based stock management software are great for companies, both big and small.
For instance, they allow smaller businesses to manage the finer profit margins with more accuracy & invest them more wisely.
Xero, an accounting service that integrates with Commusoft, highlights a few of the perks, including the ability to "access accurate [data]", see specific product types and individual orders, as well as "create reorders [automatically]" (more on that below).
On the other hand, for many of the same reasons, larger businesses can stop themselves from getting overwhelmed with near-constant shifts in stock levels thanks to processes that make it easy for them to track and manage parts, no matter how big they get.
Another benefit of using a dedicated stock management software (and something we’ll touch on in our third point with workflows) is that you can avoid both overstocking and understocking. You can ensure that you’re only buying stock when you know you need it and that the items your engineer’s use regularly, are kept at consistently healthy levels.
The easiest way is to make sure that this is possible is to choose a software that comes with a feature where you can automatically reorder parts if the stock drops below certain levels.
With Commusoft, for example, you can customise which parts to include, the quantity needed, and even state where parts should be kept.
As such, when available stock reaches your defined minimum level, a purchase order is automatically raised, which makes payments a breeze to track and process, too.
When you can create automatic reorder lists, it's easy!
With a stock management software in place, you can gives your engineers the best chance of turning up to every job, ready to go, which will give customers increased confidence and win their trust with each and every visit.
2. Prevent parts from sitting around in engineers’ vans.
Efficiency is the name of the game and I’m sure we can agree carrying more stock than you need is not at all efficient. By optimising your processes, your goal is to have your engineers get from one job to the next, as quickly as possible and prevent wasting time on stock runs that simply don’t need to happen.
While it will obviously help to have spares in the vans for those unexpected moments, you can definitely have too much of a good thing. Overcrowding vans with lots of unnecessary gear is only going to increase the odds of damaged, lost, or even stolen items.
When stock control aligns with other processes (like scheduling, invoicing, etc.), and is managed via the same software, you’ll have a much easier time staying ahead of customer expectations and avoiding costly mismanagement.
Let’s say, for example, that your engineers have an entire week’s worth of jobs scheduled in. Some of these are repairs, some installations, some inspections.
Having that information made easy to access with things like job history, asset information, and notes from previous visits (all of which can be seen on a desktop or mobile app) helps your entire team plan properly for the week ahead.
📚 Learn more with our decision checklist:
These details are also much easier to check on comprehensive software than through the like of spreadsheets, which, as Xero reports:
"Are especially prone to errors (90% of spreadsheets contain mistakes)" which makes sense as you grow, they "don't scale with your business, becoming large and complex as you grow."
Instead, through a combo of their expertise (knowing what to take in case of an emergency) and informative software, your engineers can confidently pick up all the parts they know are required for a job so that they’re as prepared as possible.
This means they can move from one job to the next without taking time to travel to-and-fro the warehouse.
At the end of the day, if an item goes unused, and it’s apparent they won’t need it for a while, they can place it back in storage, and mark on the stock app where it’s been moved to. Items are tracked, kept safe, and in great condition, all thanks to the proficient tracking process you’ve established through things like barcode scanning and auto-fill forms.
Altogether, everyone—from the engineer, to the admin back in the office, to your finance manager checking over your expenditure—knows where everything is and what’s been used, this reducing the risk of damage, theft, or financial loss.
Trying decide what stock management software is right for you?
Take a look at our visual checklist and decide what’s best!
From assigning authority levels, to supplier integrations: there’s plenty to consider...
3. Establish order with workflows and a stockroom app.
As far as a technical solution goes, it’s worth saying that digitising your stockroom will require commitment to set up properly—it needs to be organised in the physical stockroom too, of course—(i.e. especially if you're wanting to go paperless or even more on from excel spreadsheets to a database), but once it is in place, you stand to save hours upon hours of administration effort.This means you’ll have time and money to reinvest elsewhere. As The UK Domain reports,
"55% of businesses say that inventory software saves them 5 hours a week or more (and 16% say that it saves them a whole day’s work out of each week)."
Not only that, but automation plays a big role in the aftermath of the initial set up, with processes aimed at saving your staff—whether in the office, or out in the field—time and energy, so they can focus on more important tasks that positively boost your bottom line.
The impact of an automated workflow streamlining your stock control will sooner rather than later, speak for itself and before long, you’ll see the impact on your revenue. It’s all part of how you can effectively take control of your profitability; this is because stock becomes significantly easier to track, distribute, and put to use on the job.
The more time you save on admin and other internal stock-related tasks, the more time can be put back into completing jobs and interacting with your customers.
This only gets better with time.
After all, your personal database can save data so that rather than fill in tedious admin time after time, it’s made incredibly quick and easy!
What to take away from overcoming profit loss
With a dedicated software at your back, you only stand to benefit from the solutions we’ve outlined above.
Whether you’re looking to make a significant upgrade, or simply want to give yourself more control over each job, it’s well worth taking the time to properly implement a stock control solution.
If that’s piqued your curiosity, then it might be handy to know that Commusoft is here to help.
We’ve got a great list of resources you can explore on our website, as well as an amazing team of experts who’d be more than happy to discuss what options are available to you.
You can explore our stock control system by clicking here, or if you’d like something a little more visual, be sure to watch our video, linked below, where Jack can guide you through a demo of the product in action!
You can even chat to our friendly team by reaching out here or through CommuBot in the bottom corner of your screen!