There are several advanced methods to consider for inventory and ordering. Two options include CollisionLink, which is offered through jobbers utilizing the Comcept (jobber) management system. NuVentory is a program that works in conjunction with several jobber systems. Both of these systems provide ordering, inventory and reports. With links to the jobber systems, these programs provide dynamic content that updates current prices part numbers as they come to market. These and other systems can be found online or via your jobber.
However, for this article, we will talk about some simple, basic ways to start managing inventory and ordering. Many find it easier to start off with very basic methods, get everyone onboard then have the option to migrate to more advanced or dynamic systems. While this article is intended to talk paint and materials inventory, a similar approach should work with anything purchased on a regular basis.
For most shops, enlisting the support of their jobber can greatly help and simplify this task. We will use three basic ingredients to create a simple inventory and ordering system — standard operating procedures (SOPs), historic purchases (from the jobber reports) and input from staff.
First, we need to have some basic SOPs in place. These establish a basic framework for how we are going to do things and therefore what we are going to need to get those tasks done. For example, if we have determined that all repair work will be finished with 180 grit by our body techs, we don’t need to maintain body tech inventory in anything finer and only a few grits coarser. Similar SOPs can help reduce the part number count in the paint, detail and other departments of the shop.
Every jobber should be able to provide a report of purchases. Using a full 12 months will provide a very complete list covering just about everything used on a regular basis. Remove anything that is not used on a regular basis and therefore does not need to be part of regular stock.
With our SOPs in hand, we can consider only those products that fit within our SOPs as the regular or “Authorized Stock List.” This can help thin our regular stocked part numbers, making inventory simpler and setting a basis for ordering.
Getting technicians and other staff involved will help get buy in and support. We can now discuss what we need to stock, and then how much we need to stock. The purchase list from the jobber can be narrowed to fit SOPs with input from staff on what products, sizes, grits and methods works best. This can then be pared down to our authorized stock list. I suggest determining 12 months worth of supplies divided by 26 to give us a two-week supply.
A two-week supply can, in most cases, provide enough inventory to last at least one week, with minimal overstock and less rush or fill-in orders. Filling back up to this level with each order will keep inventory fairly stable and aid in accounting for inventory. For example, a shop using 100 gallons/units of clear per year will need 4 (100 ÷ 26 and rounded up) gallons/units on hand, along with the required activators. While the mix of activators may change through the year based on temperature and humidity, the quantity doesn’t need to change very much. For this example, the 4 units of clear will also require 4 units of activator. Sometimes that will be one fast, two medium and one slow, and other times that mix may change.
Why not one week of supply, some may ask. Even though most shops can get multiple weekly deliveries, two weeks seems to work better and reduce added deliveries, time spent ordering, receiving and other administrative tasks associated with inventory. Down the road, reducing from the proposed two-week stock to a one-week level may be feasible. It is at this point that consideration may be given to a more advanced system (like those mentioned above).
Using this pared-down list and calculated quantities, we can now not only create an order form, but also a recommended stock level that ties into our SOPs.