INVENTORY TIPS: Are You Ready to Turn the Corner?

© 2003 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Summer 2003
Author: Tom Schuler
Page 58


Are You Ready to Turn the Corner?

By Tom Schuler

Much has happened in the last 22 months: terrorism, a high bankruptcy rate, war, disease outbreak, disastrous weather, high unemployment, squeezed budgets ... not the best of times for door dealers.

But there are signs that the economy could pick up in the future. Interest rates continue at all-time lows. The markets are experiencing a slow, but modest sustained growth. The war is over, and people are ready for a change. Are you prepared for the economy to turn the corner?

Let’s look at three areas where preparation today will pay dividends tomorrow for your door business. How will you answer these questions?

1. Have you made a strong effort to maximize the use of your inventory?

A door dealer’s sales revenue is generated from stock, special orders, over-the-counter sales, and parts and service. Have you reviewed your current stock and balanced out the sections, track, and hardware? Whether you stock complete doors or components, if you don’t have a proper balance, you won’t be able to deliver a complete unit.

If you have some cancelled orders, have you tried to sell them at a discount, cannibalize them for components, or use them for parts? Have you sorted through the returns, broken cartons, loose track and springs to use for parts and service calls instead of ordering more material? Have you looked at your parts supply to purge the obsolete items and free up space? Unsold inventory is like a pile of wasted money.

Now is a good time to clean up and organize the warehouse. If you know what you have, how many you have, and where it is, your installer productivity will increase, and your customer response and profits will improve.

2. Are your vehicles and equipment in top shape?

What is the condition of your trucks, lifts, welders, saws, pneumatic equipment, and hand tools? Does everything work when you get to the job site? Do you have scheduled maintenance to reduce surprises?

Are special tools and equipment returned to the tool crib after a job is completed? Or are you always looking for something in the morning when the installers are loading the trucks? How many times did you have the incorrect tools and supplies on the truck for that job “way out of town”?

When is the last time you “shook down” the trucks to find excess inventory on the trucks but none in the warehouse? Do you control the critical parts on your trucks differently than consumable supplies?

A well-maintained fleet of trucks, tools, and equipment will improve your performance at a small cost.

3. Have you invested in training and development for your installers and technicians?

If you think training is expensive, how much do you think the lack of knowledge costs? You cannot expect everyone to be an expert without education and training. On-the-job experience is a great teacher, but the school of hard knocks can be very expensive and painful.

Do you have a good trainer on your staff to instruct new-hires in your methods, procedures, and quality standards? Do you pair up your “rookies” with your “experts”? Do you measure the skill level and quality of your installers and technicians? Have you taken advantage of training opportunities?

Ongoing training is necessary to keep your workforce prepared to sell, install, and maintain your products and services. Your people are your greatest asset. Are they well-maintained and ready to operate at peak performance?

Today is the best time to invest in your future. This fall’s selling season may be your busiest in several years. Take advantage of a slow summer to get ready for the increase in business that is bound to happen.

Are you ready to turn the corner?


Tom Schuler of TRS Associates is a veteran materials manager in the garage door industry and a consultant to dealers and manufacturers. He is based in Sterling, Ill. at 815-625-2996 or