In Stock: Best Practices for Inventory Management
Having an organized way to manage the inventory in your club can safeguard from significant monetary loss due to theft and human error. Have you ever gone to get something for a member, then realized you were out of stock, even though the computer said you had two left? Have you ever had empty shelves in your pro shop because you didn’t order enough inventory?
If so, you may need to reevaluate if your inventory management practices and club management software are working for you, instead of the other way around.
Have a procedure in place for ordering and receiving.
Kimberly Whimple, a manager at VENT Fitness, believes consistency and a systematic approach to handling products are two of the most important aspects to properly managing inventory.
“You need to be consistent with how you do your ordering and receiving of the product, because if you don’t, that’s how your inventory ends up messed up,” said Whimple. “We used to have issues where a product would come in, and just anyone would put it away … they wouldn’t know to check the invoice that came with it, or didn’t know everything that came with it.”
Tom Hatten, the founder of Mountainside Fitness, also finds it important to ensure that inventory is immediately entered into the system upon arrival. “It’s all about how well you put it into the system, and then how you audit it,” he said. “We make sure all of our skews (stock keeping units or product numbers) are consistent and entered into the system when they arrive.”
Invest in good software.
Hatten uses CSI software in his clubs to help manage inventory — which offers a convenience factor. “We use it for everything, including our pro shop,” he said. “It’s all skewed in, it’s by club and it’s pretty simple.”
VENT Fitness uses ABC Financial’s DataTrak software. “It’s great — the only mistake that can be made is user error,” said Whimple. “It keeps track of what products we sell, how much we sell and how much we’re missing at the end of each month.”
Protect against theft.
Whimple has found the simplest, most effective way to ensure inventory products don’t get shop lifted is by placing clothes, accessories and other products in a visible area. “Our main idea here in the club is that our product is visible from our staff at any given time,” said Whimple. “I would say that 99 percent of our product is visible from an employee working at a station. We used to have tanning stuff in a spot that wasn’t totally visible, and then we moved it more out in the open, and we noticed a difference in products not being taken.”
Hatten also places products by the front desk to keep items visible. “It’s the little things that get stolen the most,” he said. “Shirts don’t really get stolen. If people want to try something on, they’ll give us their keys, so we manage it pretty well.”
Keep things stocked.
VENT Fitness ensures they don’t run out of popular products by checking trends to see what sells the quickest and overstocking those items.
“I’ll go into our inventory system and see what product I need, and based off what I see I know how much product we need to order to try to keep an overstock,” said Whimple. “But, not too much overstock … we don’t want to end up with products expiring.”
Mountainside Fitness places bigger orders to keep up with the success of juice bar sales. “Our orders are just bigger,” said Hatten. “We have to make sure they’re bigger, because I don’t want my managers to have to think about [stocking items] every day.”
While the best practices for keeping track of inventory may vary from club-to-club, depending on the amount of members and the type of products you carry, it’s important to go into ordering inventory with a plan. Know who is going to sign for the package and where it will be placed afterwards. Be aware of the numbers you have in stock and how much you need to order. Understand ways to safeguard against theft so your club doesn’t end up losing money.
The products you offer are an investment, at least until sold. Use these best practices to ensure those dollars are well spent.