Founded in 1986, Calloway’s Nursery was created by local nursery professionals who saw the need for a new Garden Center & Nursery experience. The founders wanted to provide not only the highest quality plants for their customers, but also unique offerings that hadn’t been available before – all coupled with industry-leading customer service.
Calloway’s operates 28 stores in Texas and is continually looking for opportunities to bring “Calloway’s Quality” to new gardeners in new communities.
Inventory Management Challenges
Due to the high volume of sales and inventory turns during the 16-week Spring season, ordering by the Buyers and receiving in the Stores can get out of sync. Stores may not receive POs in a timely manner or may have poor receiving practices in place that cause errors with on-hands.
To provide consistent on-hand inventory information to the Buyers, Stores will do cycle counts of fast-turning items during this time to fix the problems receiving errors have caused. This negates most of the problems, but also creates issues with Accounting and booked inventory differences.
At the end of the season, we will use an external inventory service to do a mid-year inventory to “true up” the on-hands. An additional year-end inventory is done as well for financial audit purposes and to prepare on-hands for the next Spring season.
Each of these external inventories will provide the information our Accounting and Information Technology teams need to prepare a true and accurate representation of the inventory valuations and on-hand inventory quantities at the item level for future planning and purchase requirements. At that time, Calloway’s can then determine the true inventory gain or shrink at both the category and item levels.
Our Calloway’s Store personnel consist of core management and department heads with seasonal help to fill in as needed. Customer Service is our hallmark, so the management teams are unavailable to dedicate much time to inventory counts; and the seasonal help are unskilled in being able to do inventory counts in a consistent and timely manner.
We have partnered with another external inventory service for years. We found that over the course of that relationship the quality of their service deteriorated both in terms of personnel and performance. We would have incomplete teams of counters show up late at our stores and the counters were either new to the company or were not of a professional level. Additionally, when we needed to schedule the timing for an inventory cycle, we were told the windows of time we had available to us, rather than working with us to prepare a schedule.
We decided to shop for a new external service and had about a 3-month window to find, negotiate, and prepare a new company prior to our June 2023 mid-year inventory. That is when we started with Phyle Inventory Control Specialists (PICS).
PICS was able in a short period of time to create all the reporting requirements we needed (like the other inventory service) as well as import and export functions for inventory validation files used by their counters, and final-count files for us to be able to import into our ERP system to “true up” our actual on-hands.
PICS technology is more advanced than the previous service we used. Before, we had to wait for printouts of sections completed by the counters and then audit them manually and hope that the corrections we noted would be entered into the database. Many times, we would have to request recounts of audited sections because the paper printouts were confusing. On the other hand, PICS has tablets that allow the auditors to note corrections directly into the data and have a real-time look at the progress of the inventory without having to rely on the inventory supervisor to provide printouts. These tablets speed up the process of reviewing and certifying completed inventory sections, allowing our auditors to review more sections more thoroughly.
Another benefit of PICS is the longevity of their employee counters. Every time I attended an in-store inventory count, I would see the same personable people and we could see that they cared about their craft and the company they worked for. I think it made such a difference to see our people able to interact with knowledgeable and trustworthy counters such as those with PICS.
Our finding of PICS has created a long-needed improvement in our outsourced inventory services. We find that their people, technology and accuracy have greatly improved our inventory count processes and we look forward to a long relationship with them.