One part of the inventory process that doesn’t get much attention (at least initially) is Scheduling. You want to have a count done, you need it done. But when do you do it?
This question depends a great deal on your type of business, and your Accounting practices. Smaller companies with less than 5 stores may only need one count performed at year-end. Larger retail chains may need their stores counted twice a year (January and June), or quarterly. Some grocery and c-store chains with high shrink need to have physical inventory counts conducted more often, even monthly.
The scheduling methodology that works most effectively for a partnership with an inventory service is to “cycle” the counts throughout the year. If you have 100 stores, it doesn’t make sense to schedule them all within a tight scheduling window for several reasons:
• Puts a huge strain on Accounting
• Makes reconciliation of all of that data very difficult and issues with individual counts receive less attention
• District and/or Regional management cannot attend all of the counts
• Store management cannot help out their neighboring stores
• Stretches the resources of the inventory service(s)
By “cycling” inventories so that they are spread out through the year, you avoid all of these issues. In addition, the inventory service can use a Dedicated Team for all of the counts. This means the same crew of inventory auditors is used for each store, which builds familiarity, efficiency and accuracy.
The last thing you want as a business owner is to disrupt the service to your customers, so inventories are typically done early in the morning (typical for Grocery and C-Stores) or in the evening after close (typical for Retail stores).
If your stores have a stock room, it’s a good idea to start that part of the inventory first if it’s a Retail store (maybe 1-2 hours prior to the sales floor). If Grocery stores, the stock room could be counted at the same time as the sales floor, but there may be other areas of the store which need to be counted earlier due to delivery schedules.
If your store will be open for business during the count, you should look at having a beginning and ending register count performed so that you can account for sales or half-sales during the count.
It’s never as simple as picking a date and a time out of thin air. Think through your operational needs when scheduling to help set your stores up for a successful inventory count. And be sure to give the inventory service plenty of notice so that they can plan, allocate the resources and send the team with the skills to provide the most accurate inventory count.