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As a contractor, whether you are a plumber, an electrician, or HVAC, knowing where your materials are and knowing what materials you need and which ones you don’t is a very important aspect of the job. If you run out of certain material in the middle of a job that you need, you are not only pushing back your deadline but you are causing your employer to pay employees while they wait for the right material to arrive. In most of these trades, you can not complete jobs efficiently unless your inventory is stocked up and you are always prepared.

Whether you run a small contracting company yourself or you work for a larger corporation, it is vital to have inventory management in place so you avoid any hiccups along the way. Recently, we read a blog from Ferguson.com that made us think about our inventory management. So, we wanted to share the tips and tricks they mentioned and give you our insight on how important it is to manage your inventory properly.

Step #1: Stay Organized

The number one most important thing when it comes to inventory is keeping your warehouse, shed, or shop clean and organized. You want to know where every product is and what products are needed for each job so you can stay stocked up. Whether this means you use a spreadsheet system, a labeling system, barcode scanners, or a code system, you should have a system in place.

Step #2: Prepare for The Job

If you are scheduled out for a job, go through the materials that you suspect you need available for that job and make sure you have them in stock. This way if you notice you don’t have certain tools or materials you can order them with enough time before the job starts. It is also better to overestimate the need for materials rather than be understocked and have to order more materials halfway through.

Step #3: Upgrade Your Organization

An effective way of keeping your inventory organized is to upgrade your storage system and the way your inventory is laid out. This could mean new shelving units, new baskets, or new bins. Everything needs a place and you don’t want materials randomly placed in areas they don’t belong because this is how materials get lost.

Step #4: Color Code

An easy way to keep track of materials for each job or just to track materials, in general, is to use a color-coding system. You can do this one of two ways.

  1.  Color code per job: Give each job a color and mark all the materials you need for that job with that same color so you can make sure you have all the proper materials at the beginning, middle, and end of the job. This is also a great way to make sure you don’t lose any tools that are yours at the end of a job.
  2. Another way to use the color-coding system is to give each material class a color. For example, lumber could be red, tools could be green, the hardware is blue, and so on. This way your warehouse is organized by color and you know which color to search for when looking for a specific tool. 

Step #5: Consider Hiring an Inventory Manager

If you get to the point where your inventory is hard to manage on your own, consider hiring a manager that is in charge of keeping track of inventory and making sure that materials are ordered for the specific jobs coming up.

The business that you are running is important to you and you want to take care of it to make sure there are a minimum amount of hiccups during operations. Consider using these steps to improve your operations daily or change them to fit your specific needs and wants as a company. If you keep your inventory and your operations organized, your daily tasks will be much easier. Not to mention your stress level will stay down, which will improve your overall health. To learn more about inventory tips and tricks visit ferguson.com.