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Inventory management in auto paint supply stores. 6 problems and solutions. Part 2.

Poor delivery times from suppliers

When we select our suppliers, we usually consider two main parameters: quality of the goods and price. Nevertheless, a third parameter for the decision making is of utmost importance – delivery times. On many occasions, it is better to choose slightly higher priced supplier, who guarantees faster goods delivery. You will save more with less “frozen” money in stock and avoid back orders with customers (back orders may actually never become orders, if the customer buys the needed products elsewhere).

Solution

Always consider delivery terms as a vital parameter when choosing a supplier.

Storage problems of certain refinishing consumables

As I already mentioned, in auto paint supply shop there are numerous different products. Some of these goods, especially painting materials, must be carefully stored to avoid quality deviations. For example, most polishing compounds shouldn’t be exposed to very low temperatures; masking tapes and PU sealants might lose their properties if kept in places with very high humidity; aerosol sprays shouldn’t be exposed to high temperatures and direct sunlight.

Solution

Fortunately, virtually all automotive paint related materials are supplied with MSDS (material safety data sheets) and TDS (technical data sheets), where all the necessary storage related information is clearly stated. Keep all the necessary documents handy for all the employees in the warehouse so that they could consult these whenever it is necessary.

Natural disasters, robbery and other unpredicted events

Five years ago all my stock turned to ashes. Fire destroyed 100% of all goods, nothing was left. Even spray guns melted down. It was a very hard lesson. Natural disasters like fire or flood happen more often than we think. Robberies are also common in modern cities. Force majeure, as sometimes we refer to unfortunate events, are part of commercial risks, yet, we can and should protect ourselves against such events.

Solution

Warehouse insurance policy costs must be an integral, non-negotiable part of any company’s budget. Choose the insurance company as carefully as you choose a spouse. I mean it. In addition, do everything possible to prevent such disasters as fire or robbery. Nowadays, one can find a great variety of security systems, while fire systems installation is mandatory in places handling flammable goods. Please, do not cut the corners here.

Conclusion

I am quite confident that the information in this article is not new for you, my dear reader. However, from my point of view, we need some sort of reminder from time to time. This is exactly what I intend in this post and many others in Etalon Refinish blog. In modern collision repair industry we embrace new technologies, repair processes and materials, but forget timeless business practices. Inventory and stock management are taught in the business schools and MBA programs, and it is not a coincidence that larger corporations have highly skilled employees in charge of logistic departments. On the other hand, in smaller businesses like auto paint supply shops we act like “Jack of all trades”, therefore a complicated task of warehouse and inventory management is yet another task in our routine. Well managed warehouse is as important as loyal customers; it will save you money and headaches. The best time to work with your stock is in low periods, like summer holidays and Christmas break. Devote more time to fine tune your warehouse, and rewards will come immediately.

 

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