Taking a regular stock take of your inventory is a vital part of maintaining healthy business operations. While Unleashed utilizes a perpetual ongoing stock count and valuation, a regular manual stock take is usually still required to discern if there are any lost, damaged or obsolete items in your inventory.
Some businesses will do these more regularly, depending on their needs – a yearly or bi-yearly count is usually adequate. Most businesses will conduct a comprehensive count at the end of the financial year, giving their accounts staff a chance to match up inventory levels, perform an accurate valuation, and reconcile any losses.
In a perfect world, a stock take would be done as efficiently as possible and wouldn’t require the closing of the business during business hours. Of course, this is sometimes a hard ask.
Manual stocktakes – especially for large businesses – take time and effort. This usually requires that the sales or shop end of the business be shut done in order for staff to complete the stock take in the shortest amount of time, though some businesses are able to do this at the end of the year right before operations close down for the holidays.
Perhaps the most important factor of any stock take is having a clear plan of how to perform it. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some tips to help perform an effective stock take.
1. What are you counting and how?
While it may sound obvious, knowing what you’re counting and how you will count it is an important basic step. It’s one thing to know that you have to count every piece of stock in your inventory, but it’s another to know how you will accomplish this.
For starters, it’s a good idea to decide how the staff will be split up to count in the most efficient way possible. For many businesses, pairs or groups are best as one staff member can count while another writes down. This saves from simple mistakes being made due to having too many things to do at once.
2. Make sure it’s accurate
One of the main reasons for doing a manual stock count is to find and highlight discrepancies and inaccuracies. This means that, above all else, your manual count needs to be accurate. No shortcuts like estimates or guesswork!
3. Uniformity of count
In order to save time at the other end – and to keep your accounts staff happy – it pays to have a uniform way of counting. This is especially true for businesses with large and varied stock. If there are groups of counters split up to cover more territory then you don’t want their counting or documentation methods to differ too much.
Many businesses will utilize write-off sheets for damaged or perished stock. It’s usually the best idea for the counters to check the condition of stock while they count. This way when stock needs to be written off it can be done during the count, ensuring your stock take is accurate and meaningful.
5. Empower your staff
The heart of all businesses is the staff. They are the people on the frontlines, who often know the nuts and bolts of the business more intimately than management. It’s a great idea then to empower them to take ownership of the stock take. They are the ones most likely to notice if a price is wrong or an item is damaged.
6. Make sure everything’s up to date
Sometimes an easy mistake to make, ensuring that the stock and price lists are accurate is essential.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.