The Importance of Conducting Physical Inventory

two people completing inventory
two people completing inventory

Performing physical inventories is critical to the success of any fleet organization. Even the best record keepers can miss a transaction. At any given time, the number of units a fleet has on paper may differ from the number of units actually in the inventory. Physical inventory reconciliation will help you find such errors by checking your records against your actual stock.

Keeping your stock ledger up to date and accurate is an important element to the success of your fleet. Without accurate information, your organization runs the risk of lost sales due to products being out of stock when your customers and clients want them. The most effective way to maintain this unit system accuracy is to complete a physical count of your merchandise. Inventory counts can be done once a year or periodically throughout the year. Either way, January normally brings low stock levels and reduced utilization (except in particularly wintry regions), making it the perfect time to complete an inventory count.

How to Complete a Successful Inventory Count
  1. Schedule the Event in Advance and Create a Plan
    To minimize the impact on your normal fleet operations, it is a good idea to pick a day that your garage is open for reduced hours, like a Sunday. This way, you can start the inventory either before you open or after you close and still complete the process by a reasonable time of day. Have a predetermined workflow for the count, so you can inventory more difficult areas early in the day while your team is still fresh and alert. Creating a warehouse or backroom map that shows all fixtures and stockrooms that need to be counted can be useful. Use this map to document your workflow and track the completion of the count. Ensure all utilities, like electrical, heating, Wi-Fi, and lighting, will be available at the time of the scheduled count. If you complete your inventory count outside normal business hours, utilities that are on automated timers may otherwise be unavailable.
  2. Prepare the Shop Floor and Stockroom
    Organize your shop floor and stockrooms, making sure all items are stocked together. Review items to ensure each one has an identifying tag attached, so they can be accurately counted. Label all unopened shipping boxes with part information and quantities. Parts that need to be counted should be separated from items that do not need to be counted. Review any damaged or out-of-package parts to make sure it has been properly accounted for. Bring all parts in your stockrooms down to lower shelves to allow for easier counting. The easier things are to count, the more accurate your count will be.
  3. Educate Staff on the Process and Explain Your Expectations
    Select your best staff for this project. Choose people who pay attention to detail and know your parts well. Hold a prep meeting with your team and set expectations. Share with them the importance of this process and how it impacts your organization. Create accuracy thresholds and assign a point person to make any final decisions as needed. This process normally takes a while, so have scheduled breaks and provide treats or other food for your team to keep them motivated.

  4. Verify Counts and Review Findings
    Make sure to recount all rare or expensive parts to ensure accuracy. Be aware of all items that are in shipping limbo. Determine if they are currently in your book inventory and need to be added to the count. Once complete, revisit any large discrepancies and verify the accuracy of those results.

shelves with inventory
Consequences of Innacurate Physical Inventory

An inaccurate physical inventory has many far-reaching consequences that fleet many times do not consider when actually preparing for and taking the physical inventory. An inaccurate physical inventory that overstates the total amount of available parts actually in inventory at year-end will result in discrepancies in your organizational budget. In the public sector, this can be grounds for a budget cut for the following year.

Remember, it takes no longer to take a good, accurate physical inventory than it does to take a sloppy, inaccurate physical inventory – and the benefits are many. AssetWorks FleetFocus has integrated inventory modules to help you streamline and verify your inventory counts across your complete database, along with built-in tools and additional fleet management functionality.

To learn more about physical inventory in FleetFocus, simply fill out the form below.
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