Inventory Management

I know everyone has their own little way of keeping up on inventory, but it seems like a subject I feel like I can't get enough of....yes I'm one of those....inventory freaks. 

I always have reps tell me 'I wish I could take you to each account.' Because of this statement I figured it may be a good subject as we're all buying up the new spring lines.

The first step in this process is to make a planogram for your office of each board. I usually make 2, one of what I have now and one of what I'm planning on changing the boards to. I personally don't like to keep frames on the board that are not moving so once a year I do a sales report and go over every collection to see how it's doing. My reps love this because they don't want stale pieces on my boards either, that way if I have a collection that is moving quickly I can raise the number I keep on hand or even swap out one of their collections with another they carry. This also allows me to make sure I have a good balance for ages, sizes, 'bread and butter' and 'cool and funky', etc. After I finalize the second one I make a list for the other opticians of what, if any, frame lines we're going to sell down so they can help me make room for any new lines we want to put in. By having a clear plan of what you want to do it makes changes smoother, especially since I rarely do the buy out programs, because I hate to burn a bridge in case you need some warranty replacements in the future or they suddenly get a collection you want to pick up.

Once the plan is set I make a quick reference sheet for each manufacturer that tells me what lines I carry with each brand, who the rep is, their contact info and the return address for each manufacturer, and any other details like if there's a minimum piece requirement on any collections, warranties, etc. By doing this I can be sure of what numbers I need to keep to make sure my cost of goods doesn't get out of hand, but my boards stay full.

As the year goes on I do a physical inventory of each line a day or so before each rep is scheduled to come in so my physical inventory and what is entered in our software are always in sync, and this also allows me to see if there are discrepancies, like if someone isn't taking pieces out as they sell them. As I'm doing the physical inventory I pull any pieces that have been up to long, by doing this you don't run into the 'over 1 year' plan that some manufacturers have where you can't swap the frame out for a different one if the frame has been purchased over a year ago. After I pull all frames I count how many are left, pull the quick reference sheet that gives me my numbers I planned on to keep my cost of goods in check and make any notes like, 'no more purple, or need semi rimless' and meet with my reps. **Quick tip-look at your entire board as you're making notes and think of what you didn't have to many of during the last several patients, like large or petite frames.

I should also note that as I evaluate what lines to keep or sell out of I also consider the service of the companies, and the reps. I have a standard that I go over with all my reps, like you 'fluff' my order you're out, etc. And I let them know what my numbers are so they can help me stay within budget. My relationships with my reps is an important one, because after all they're in business with my Doctors and everyone is counting on me to make sure that things go as needed.