When you do a good job managing your company’s automotive parts inventory, it can sometimes feel like nobody notices.
But removing the stress of time spent looking for parts that aren’t where they are supposed to be, waiting for parts to come in and trying to keep track of the current procedure can actually have a huge effect across your business - customer service, employee morale, productivity and of course revenue.
And while there may be an adjustment period that comes with change, taking the time to design the best inventory management system you can, can be a huge payoff for everyone.
To help you on your way, here are 6 things you should think about when redesigning your inventory management strategy to improve your bottom line.
- Prioritize Inventory
Not every part in your inventory is as critical to your business. Organizing your parts by priority will help you make inventory decisions like reorder points and quantities to have on hand.
Something like oil and filters that are needed every single day should have a higher stock and be reordered long before supply runs low. Other parts that are needed for regular maintenance but not used as frequently such as gaskets, brakes, bearings, have smaller stocks and get lower before you replace them. Then there are special order parts that should only be ordered as the job comes up. This is expensive or large parts that take up space and capital. It also includes parts that are only used in specific situations or specific vehicle models. When prioritizing inventory and restock quantities, consider delivery times, likelihood of parts being backordered, and whether the part is at risk of becoming obsolete before it gets used.
While this may seem self-evident, the more you know about how your inventory is consumed throughout the year, the closer you can work with reduced amounts.
Sometimes it can be hard to decide how much you should have on hand of a particular SKU. Even when you have prioritized parts.
A lot of this has to do with seasonality and the constant introduction of new vehicles.
The good news is that you have access to inventory data that should help you forecast. And the better maintained your inventory records are, the more accurate this data will be. That will help avoid over ordering, minimize the risk of obsolescence and help you better optimize manufacturer return programs.
While it can seem easier just to let anybody grab the parts they need, in the long term it will cause more problems. And that means more wasted time fixing those issues.
The only people who should have access to parts and be allowed to pull and replace are parts counter employees. Parts employees are trained and accountable. This may cause some conflict among teams when it is first implemented but ultimately it will make everyone’s job easier.
- Fill In Details
Your inventory management software probably has lots of fields for each part. SKUs, barcode data, supplier, cost, reorder point … the list goes on. Sometimes it can seem unnecessary to fill it all in but taking the time to track all product information can save you time in the long run.
- Count, Count, Count
Many automotive parts departments only do one yearly inventory count. And the idea of doing anymore can be stress inducing … it can be such a tedious process. But doing the counts more often can help reduce inventory losses and identify problem areas.
If you don’t have the time or resources to conduct multiple counts per year, do rotating inventory counts by section or focus on problematic SKUs that often have losses.
Sometimes we get so used to working with the same suppliers that delays and other problems become the norm. But it is important to do internal audits of your suppliers and see if they are regularly late or constantly putting parts on backorder.
If you start to see patterns that are disruptive to your productivity and inventory management, look for a new supplier, even as a backup.
Having written procedures posted for each responsibility can help make sure everyone on your team is following the same process.
Small discrepancies in how stock is received, pulled and returned can affect how the parts department operates. Take the time to type out and update procedures and be sure to follow up and make sure everyone is using them.
Most importantly, have an open-door policy for suggesting changes to the procedures that might help everything run more smoothly. Your staff do these jobs every day and may have interesting insights into how to improve processes.
For more information on managing your automotive parts inventory or for help getting started, contact us today.