When you decided to strike out on your own in the pet industry, you probably didn’t spend your time daydreaming about how you would handle the year end physical inventory. It’s not the most rewarding part of owning a business, but taking stock of what’s in stock is critical to your shop’s health. Knowing what’s on hand, what’s missing, what sold out and what didn’t sell at all will only help you make better plans for the future. It also may uncover theft issues and missed sales opportunities, too.
It’s a daunting task. We’ve counted our fair share of heavy dog food bags, loud squeaky toys and smelly bully sticks. And there’s one inventory tip we all agree on…
Close your pet business and do it all in one day.
Our founder and original Pet Boss, Candace D’Agnolo, likes to tell the story of the first time she did inventory at her store whenever we talk about the importance of having a good plan in place. She recruited a few family members, bought a brand new pack of highlighters, handed out 400 pages worth of merchandise lists, and started working. It didn’t take long for her to realize that hunting for individual items, page by page, while continuing to help customers was going to take a while.
In fact, it took a whole week, and she’s still not convinced she actually finished. We don’t want you to make the same mistake. That’s why we recommend doing inventory in one day, and we’ve put together a step-by-step guide for you to reference, so you can rock your inventory like a pet industry pro.
Tip 1 – Aim for a First of The Year Inventory
You’ll need to know your end of year count for tax purposes anyway, so closing up shop on January 1st or shortly thereafter is a good way to start the year off on the right foot. If a first-of-the-year inventory isn’t possible for your pet care business, simply deduct any receiving on or after January 1 from your inventory total, add back in the inventory you sold after that date, and you’ll have your December 31 number. Your accountant will need to know your total inventory dollar amount, on hand, at cost. Pet Pro Tip: Remove any inventory that’s over a year old from the total dollar count. No need to include it because you already counted it last year!
Tip 2 – Let Your Staff and Customers Know
Once you’ve decided when inventory will occur, let your customers know your store will be closed and get your team excited to help. It takes a group effort, so get creative with making the task fun and enjoyable for your team. Order in lunch or snacks. Let your team pick the playlist. Or create fun benchmarks to celebrate throughout the day.
Tip 3 – Collect all your Supplies
Use barcode scanners, laptops or other technology to speed up the process. Even legal notepads will work for writing things down. Make sure to stick with whatever method you choose. Here’s our favorite things to have on hand.
- Have your team bring their laptops / get some extra tablets
- Extra barcode scanners
- Legal Pads
- Bins, Tubs to organize your unknown and expired inventory
- Folding chairs, cushions for floor, stools
- Post it Notes of various bright colors. Have enough colors for each team member to have their own color. Get the good ones that will stick.
- Cleaning supplies – dusters, rags, clorox wipes, vacuum handy, windex, paper towels
- Water and other drinks for the team
Tip 4 – Start Counting
Count everything you physically see first, working your way through the store section by section. This count is what goes into your point-of-sale system. You don’t need to print out any merchandise lists at this point because your POS system will calculate any discrepancies for you once you add in your inventory numbers. Then you can go looking for missing stock.
- Give each person a reminder page/sheet of what they need to look for (ex: we priced each product with a custom sticker from our pos). You can hang this sheet up as well around the space. It should include this info written in large print
- Expiration Date (*determine how far out you want to go)
- Item #
- Packaging – damage, clean, new sticker
- Clean – product, shelving, drawer, floor
- Post it note after the display/section is done.
Tip 5 – Go the Extra Mile with Bin Organization
While you’re going to the trouble of counting your stock, look at expiration dates, quality of packaging, consistent pricing and other issues that might need your attention. We see a lot of furry, four-legged traffic in the pet industry, so make notes of any displays that might need to be spruced up later or assign one person on your team to tidy up behind the counting crew. To keep your team organized as they count away and to not interrupt other counters, use large storage tubs, shelves, or zones for each of these designated reasons.
Mark the bin and space clearly with big signs so the team knows where to put questionable merchandise.
- Needs New Price Label – Counted
- Expiring Soon – Counted
- Expired – Not Counted
- Unknown Item – Not Counted
- Ready to Go Back Out – Counted
Tip 6 – Celebrate When You’re Finished
As we said, a one-day inventory is an exhausting feat, but it’s well worth it to not having lingering binders of merchandise lists hanging over your head for weeks at a time. Once you finalize your count lists, file everything away in the appropriate spot, and take a load off because you earned it. Come up with a nice treat for you and your team. Maybe it’s a manicure or pedicure at a local salon!
Now that you know our best inventory tips (and how to implement it), do you have other pet care business problems that need to be solved? The Pet Boss Club has detailed trainings like this and more resources right at your fingertips! If enrollment isn’t open, join our wait list here and be the first to know when the doors open again!