The Complete Guide to Stock Management for Field Service Businesses

Is your stock management helping you...or hurting you?

Proper stock management can make a difference between a successful field service company—and one that's perpetually losing money. We recommend opting for digital stock management. But if you're not quite ready to digitalise your stock, we have a solution for you, too! Read on and take the first steps to become an expert in stock management: watch your business thrive.


Get to Grips with the Basics

Checklist

Every master starts as a student. Learn all about what stock management is before delving into the how-tos.

What is stock management?

These posts will help you get a handle on what exactly stock control and stock management are and common stock management terms.

Stock Control and Inventory Guide – NIBusinessInfo

Key quote:Stock control, otherwise known as inventory control, is used to show how much stock you have at any one time, and how you keep track of it. […] Efficient stock control allows you to have the right amount of stock in the right place at the right time. It ensures that capital is not tied up unnecessarily.’

Stock Control Methods – Workspace

Key quote: [The Just-in-Time] stock control system was originally used in Japan; as the name suggests stock is ordered as and when they are required in order to keep costs down and liquidity high. However, the increased cashflow comes at a cost.’

Glossary of inventory Management Terms – Wiley (PDF)

Key quote: ‘[The] newsboy problem [is] a standard problem of finding the best order size for a single stock cycle, with uncertain demand.’

List of Inventory Control Definitions – BusinessDictionary

Key quote: ‘New old stock [is] items purchased but never used and still in their original packaging. Also called new unused stock or surplus stock.’

 

Ready for stock CTA wide

Become a Stock Management Pro

Stock delivery

Now that you’re up to speed on the basics of stock management, let’s delve into more details on how to make it work for your business.

From too much stock to not enough, these posts will help you overcome the most frequent stock management problems.

Take steps to make your business more productive and make it easier on yourself to deliver a quality, efficient service for your customers.

The 6 Biggest Challenges in Managing Stock (And How to Overcome Them) – Commusoft

Key quote: ‘How are you keeping track of parts right now? If you’re using a paper-based system, you have to rely on your engineers to let the office staff know which parts they’re using—resulting in delays in invoicing, poor cash flow, and invoices that don’t charge for all the parts used on a job. Not to mention those times when you really, really need a part for a job and discover that the bin that held the part is now empty.’

Why and When to Avoid Holding Inventories – Management Study Guide

Key quote: ‘Inventory build-ups not only block the working capital and increase the unnecessary cost of maintaining and storing the inventories, but also hide the problems which can cause a serious threat to the business. Management should be watchful to identify any such inventory buildups and investigate the root cause and solve such problems.’

6 Ways to Improve Your Inventory Management Right Now – Logistics Management

Key quote: ‘For customers to be happy, inventory has to be in the right place at the right time. Carry too much of any [product] in the wrong place and you could wind up losing money and negatively impacting customer service. To achieve this balance, Steve Banker, vice president of supply chain management at ARC Advisory Group, says that shippers can use traditional inventory management tools plus demand management and inventory optimization solutions.’

4 Reasons You Don’t Want to Carry Stock… And What to Do Instead

Key quote: ‘Mike Sowinski, CPA/ABV, Principal at CFO Consultants, tells the sad tale of what often happens once you have a nice warehouse or storeroom full of parts. “Every engineer will begin to have their own little store of parts in their van. Then the vans get fuller and fuller, and there are all these costs going out,” he says. “What happens then is you’ll have stale stock or the wrong kinds of stock on these vans, and you end up throwing out a bunch of it.'”

The Easiest Way to Order Parts: Q&A with Paul Harrison of Wolseley

Key quote: ‘Ready to skyrocket your efficiency, save time and hassle, and make your customers happy—by ordering parts online? To find out how, we interviewed Paul Harrison, eBusiness Trading Manager at Wolseley, a specialist distributor of plumbing, heating, and cooling products. He talks about their new website and its integration with PartsArena, how it benefits your customers when you order parts online, and more.’

You can read even more in an up-to-date chat with Wolseley, by clicking here, too, or if you’d like to see what Commusoft is capable of as well, look no further than our Webinar below!

 

Stock Control Webinar Video - click to watch

Digitalise Your Stock

Digital tools

Why is it important to digitalise your stock management?

Well, here you can learn all about manual vs. digital stock management and the benefits of going digital.

Introducing process automation (of any kind) should come from a desire of wanting to improve your business, digital stock control is no different.

Managing Parts Is Such a Headache. But it Need Not Be. 

Key quote: ‘As an office manager you obviously know that attention to small details can make a big difference. And as your company gets larger and more successful, these small details can add up, giving you a big headache. If you try to solve the problem by overstocking, you just create a new one. Stock that sits on the shelf or in engineers’ vans for weeks on end reduces the capital at your company’s disposal and could also cause your cash flow to dry up. That’s why large companies invest in inventory management systems so that the right parts are available “just in time”.’

3 Reasons Why You Need Automated Inventory Management and Reporting – StitchLabs

Key quote: ‘Manually entering inventory in spreadsheet documents is not scalable. Emailing and calling your employees to figure out how much inventory you have on hand is also not scalable. […] And as your order volume grows, all of these stale “systems” you’re running today will break. It’s just a matter of time.’

6 Big Reasons to Digitalise Your Stock (And a Freebie for When You Can’t) – Commusoft

Key quote: ‘Can you trust your engineers 100% to fill out your stock sheet each and every time they take a part out of the stock room? Or to update it if they end up putting the part back? Or, in fact, to even put the part back if it ends up they didn’t need it? We’re not trying to put down your engineers, because they have other things to worry about than using a clunky paper form every time they need a part for a job. The problem isn’t the engineers—it’s the paper.’

Do Inventory Management Systems Really Work? – HowStuffWorks

Key quote: ‘The benefits of modern inventory management systems aren’t just for the retail and manufacturing sectors. They also offer great advantages for any organization that manages a supply chain for consumable items, such as the military and medical facilities.’ [Editor note: And field service businesses?]

Stock control systems – keeping track using computer software – NIBusinessInfo

Key quote: ‘Computerised stock control systems run on similar principles to manual ones, but are more flexible and information is easier to retrieve. You can quickly get a stock valuation or find out how well a particular item of stock is moving.’

Free Stock Management Spreadsheets

Computer tech reports

Download our free set of stock control spreadsheets.

This simple tool will help you track your stock, know when it’s time to re-order, and help you keep track of where all your stock is located.

Having a digital solution is becoming the must-have situation these days, particularly with ever-growing customer expectations and intense competition. These sheets can act as the perfect stepping stone to take your business totally digital.

Need help with your stock management, but aren’t quite ready to go digital?

Download our free set of stock management spreadsheets and try this simple but efficient tool for your field service businesses.

If you need help with your stock management, it’s the perfect way to get started with efficient stock control and better than a manual paper system, and certainly better than having so system at all!

Just fill out the form below and you can download your spreadsheets immediately.

boxes on a moving trolley next to a computer screen of spreadsheets, stock control spreadsheets, free download!