Published on June 10, 2020
When you are preparing to take inventory, fear of losing time is of particular concern. But if you are well organized, you have everything to gain! A well-managed inventory not only saves time, but also quickly translates into savings and reduced losses. It should therefore be seen as an essential exercise, especially considering that inventory management is the second largest expense in veterinary practices!
Here are five suggestions for managing your inventory with maximum efficiency that you can apply right away:
1. Work as a team
For inventory management to be effective, it must be rigorous. For that reason, it is important to make sure all of your co-workers are aware of the costs in time and money of carelessness. The process must involve the participation of the entire team, with, of course, one person being in charge of follow-up. Monthly and annual inventory operations are carried out within a specific period of time, but on a day-to-day basis, the discipline of each team member makes all the difference. To avoid waste and overuse, get into the habit of putting everything back in its place and checking before opening a product if it is not in use elsewhere in the establishment.
2. Speed up monthly inventory
Performing a complete inventory every month is not absolutely necessary; it takes a lot of time that could be better invested in care. To facilitate the process, divide your stock into separate categories for food, medication and equipment. For each category, identify the 20% of items that are used daily: those are the ones that will be included in the monthly inventory. For the remaining 80% of items, inventory can be taken at longer intervals. Imagine all the time you will save!
3. First-in, first-out
What can you do to make sure you don’t wind up with too much expired inventory? Apply the FIFO method, for “first-in, first-out”! Start by placing the three categories of stock – food, medication and equipment – in three clearly visible locations in your clinic. Take a few extra minutes to place your newer merchandise behind items that are already on the shelves so that the older items are at the front and will be sold first.
4. Colour code medications
Throwing away expired drugs leads to potentially heavy financial losses, but it is something that can almost always be avoided. To minimize such losses and ensure the integrity of the medication, you should be able to see the expiry dates at a glance immediately upon entering your stockroom. To do this, it is recommended that you use coloured stickers to clearly identify medications that:
- expire this year
- expire next year
- expire in two years
5. Use the Inventory program within your veterinary practice management software
You already have a great tool at your disposal for managing your inventory efficiently, because no matter what software you use in your practice, it offers an inventory management feature. Take advantage of this tool by listing each product and its quantity, while taking care to specify minimum and maximum stock quantities for each one. Once everything is set up, you will no longer need to place approximate orders to save time: your orders will be placed in just a few minutes and errors will be minimized. Your software will do the job for you in no time!
If you hesitate in taking this path, ask for guidance. CDMV offers an extensive training program on inventory management for all members of your team. You will quickly realize that the solutions are quite simple and that, if everyone contributes, they can have a significant impact on the profitability of your practice. Not to mention that the time you save will allow you to devote yourself to what really matters: providing animal care!