At home, being organized can improve your quality of life, but in business, it can also make the difference between barely surviving and thriving. That’s why we talked to experts for advice on how to organize inventory for a small business, so you can improve productivity at work—just in time.
Donny Makower, for example, needed an organization system to sustain his nutrition startup RDCL Superfoods. With help from a professional organizer, he adopted a just-in-time inventory management system that helps him keep what he needs, and only what he needs, at the ready.
“We have dozens of ingredients that we use for product formulation, along with a steady influx of boxes and other materials,” said Makower. “It’s been a game-changer.”
Read on for expert tips to organize your inventory in a way that can help improve your business.
Inventory Management System Tips
Makower’s company got the help it needed from Shara Kay of SK Organizing. Through their partnership he was able to adopt a labeling system that supports just-in-time inventory management.
Together they added simple laminated cards to shelving that highlight minimum and maximum quantities allowed, the reorder amount, and the supplier. A designated employee then does quick, daily audits of the supplies and places orders as needed.
When Kay finds unneeded materials of any kind at a business, she red tags them immediately for elimination, to help with space needs.
Based on the Kanban inventory system that originated in Japan, Kay’s guidance has helped a lot of people, she says.
“Our clients stop losing money buying things they already have but can’t find, and they stop experiencing costly delays from running out of things they need,” said Kay. “Their teams can accomplish more in less time when tools and supplies they need are accessible and easy to find.”
How to Do Inventory to Improve Communication
Adding structure through improved organization and labeling can also improve communication and cross-functional teamwork, according to Riley Rea, co-founder of a furniture manufacturer called Croft House.
As the company grew, keeping supplies became unmanageable for Rea’s staff.
“We have tried and failed at getting organized several times over the last 10 years because we lacked the simple structure and theory that Shara’s methods provide,” he said.
One department would run out of a shared supply and order more, while another had more than they needed and would hoard it.
“It was a classic example of one hand not knowing what the other was doing,” Rea said. “By centralizing all of our supplies by their function, Shara was able to set up a simple ordering system.”
Now Croft House spends far less on materials overall and things no longer go missing or obsolete with over-ordering.
When helping clients, Kay also labels tools with the user or department’s initials and the spot where the item belongs.
“From our perspective, the greater the number of people using space, the more critical it is to label,” said Kay. “Imagine the savings that you achieve when organizing at home, then multiply those across an entire workforce.”