Inventory Control in Marine Parts and Servicing Businesses

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For the owner of a marine servicing business, inventory control is key to good management but can become a real nightmare. I heard of one business that lost over $40,000 worth of stock over the course of a year. The reason? One of the employees was regularly taking small items and selling them privately. The disappearance of the stock went un-noticed until the end of the year when the annual stock take showed the discrepancies in expected versus actual counts. But it was too late – the employee had left several months before the stock-take and was nowhere to be found, leaving the business high and dry.

How can you prevent this type of theft in your business? Regular stock-taking can minimize the problem, but that can be quite daunting with thousands of items in stock. You need an automated solution – an integrated database application can make great inroads towards the goal of effective inventory management. The process is simple, and goes like this:

  • The database stores your customers, suppliers, stock, sales and incoming orders
  • Your existing customer, supplier and stock data is imported if you have it in electronic format, otherwise this data is entered manually
  • Separate your workshop stock storage area into named areas
  • Each item of stock is stored in its allocated area, and this area name is stored in the database against the item code
  • When new stock arrives with its packing slip, the new stock is entered into the database
  • With every purchase, an invoice is generated and automatically adjusts the stock level of the appropriate items
  • Say you have areas A through Z. Print a stock-take report for the area or areas you would like to check. The report will give the area, codes, descriptions and expected tally
  • Stock take on a regular basis, and if you do not want to do the whole of your inventory at once, select an area to stock-take
  • Rotate the areas randomly so your stock-taking is not predictable, but you cover all areas regularly

Following such a process will let you sleep at night. If anything is missing, you can work out what has happened before time fudges your memory. Who was working, what jobs were being done, who came in and bought items – these are your clues and you are in the best position to understand what has happened if it is recent. Additionally, if the people in your business understand that random stock-takes are happening, the temptation to ‘borrow’ something is minimized.

Through the storage of customers, suppliers, stock, sales and incoming orders in you database, you unleash some other great benefits.

    • Suppliers
      • Which suppliers are you giving the most business to? Report on stock ordered from a supplier in any time period – or sales made by supplier. Having these figures can point you to which suppliers may give an additional discount for large volume transactions
    • Stock
      • Easy stock-taking – report on stock in a specified location, for example location A, at any point in time for stock-taking purposes. Breaking it down to areas simplifies the process and makes it a lot more manageable.
      • Easy re-ordering – report on stock that has decreased to pre-specified re-order levels, with supplier details for re-ordering purposes
    • Customers
      • Easy access to customer details – customer data held including name, address, email, boat model, make and year, motor make, model and year, and a notes field all available on selection from a drop-down list and viewed at any time
      • Service Reminders – report on customers who had their boats serviced in a specified month in the past allowing a reminder to be sent
      • Keep your customers by looking after them – email the customer with the click of the mouse (providing the customer email is stored)
      • Upsell – when you have items you would like to shift, you can email your customer database to let them know of your latest offer
    • Invoices
      • Made simple – the invoice uses customer name and address details stored in the system, selected from a drop down list
      • Automated Invoices as follows – no more templates
        • each stock item of the invoice is selected by inputting the item code
        • once an item code is selected, the description and retail price are automatically retrieved from the system
        • for each line item there is the functionality to manually adjust a price without changing the regular retail price stored in the Stock table
        • for each line item there is the functionality to enter a dollar discount amount to be applied to each item – if two of the same items are on the one line, the dollar discount will apply to each item
        • a quantity is entered
        • the total price of the line item is automatically calculated
        • the addition of another line item will automatically adjust the total balance
        • produce the printed invoice with the click of the mouse
    • Sales
      • Keep your Sales Figures under your fingertips – a report on sales in a specified period with a start and end date (which will allow weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly or any other selected period)

As you can see, a database can deliver great value to your business. If you rely on storing your inventory in your head, or manually prepare invoices, or are doing without the advantages that are described in this article, you would do well to take a look at an inventory control system.

This article was submitted by Deborah Anderson, Director of TechSalad.

TechSalad specializes in custom database solutions for small businesses.

Relational Database applications include Inventory Control and Invoicing for Marine Sales and Servicing Businesses, English Language School administrative software and Club Membership invoicing management software.

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