Expert tips for managing inventory


November 29, 2019

We asked Pest Management Professional’s columnists and editorial board members to share their best tip for managing inventory. Here are some of their responses — including a few extra that didn’t make it into our November 2019 print edition.

PMP’s Regular Contributors

Stuart Aust: “An inventory system is vital to keeping your costs in line. Employees should sign off that they received equipment and product so you can monitor each employee’s usage. If you don’t implement a system, your costs will be out of control and you take away from your profitability. Also, a designated person on your staff should record and monitor product usage and equipment issued to ensure profitability. Select a manager to hold your employees accountable in this regard.”

Paul Hardy: “With today’s technology, inventory is less important. A two-week inventory is all you need because you can order online from most distributors.”

Frank Meek, BCE: “Inventory management can be one of the most difficult tasks in an operation. It is potentially a big area of lost money. You are trusting your team to use the product correctly, per the label, be honest in their handling, storage and maintaining of the chemicals, supplies and application equipment. I had a situation 28 years ago where we were changing from one piece of equipment that the technicians loved to something new. There was a lot of resistance from the old-timers. When I took away their beloved item, most of them showed up the next day with equipment again. They simply went home, got the first spare from their garage and kept using it. With some, this happened a couple of times before they ran out of spares.”

“Basic technician management. Daily check-in procedures, routine truck inspections and surprise inspections when you think there is a need. Methods for issuing inventory include:

  • Return for supply: The technician brings empties in for restock.
  • Budget shopping: Calculate the desired percentage to spend on product and equipment, calculate that percentage of each technician’s service route, and tell them what they are allowed to ‘spend’ each month at your office store. Don’t worry about the cost of product for new sales because that should have been covered in the estimate.
  • Never give out the keys.
  • Assign specific days for product to be issued.
  • Audit service paperwork, and cross-reference inventory from the truck to the product and equipment issued.
  • Train, train and train some more.”

Kurt Scherzinger: “Assign one person who is responsible for the process and issuing supplies at each location. If you allow anyone to grab products and supplies, you will lose control of what is leaving your facilities, and thereby increase costs.”

Dr. Stephen Vantassel: “Keep inventories low if you have reliable dealers and distributors.”

PMP’s Editorial Advisory Board

Ryan Bradbury: “FIFO: First in, first out.”

Doug Foster: “My best friends in inventory control are a checklist and accountability. I don’t require technicians to ‘check out’ products and return an empty before they get a full container, but I do perform random inspections with my checklist. I want technicians to have the products they need on the truck, and not have to skimp or return to the office multiple times for items. They sign out any equipment they use so we can track it down when another technician might need it, it gets damaged or is abused.”

Mary Vongas:

“Make your system easy to use, hard to circumvent — it will make your data more valuable. And be consistent. Don’t forget to use the knowledge you gain to make your business better, whether it’s smart buying, smart stocking, or service usage/non-usage trends.”


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