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5 Fast Steps to Improve Your Inventory Management

Inventory management is arguably the most challenging aspect of the event rental industry, and also the most important. If you have a poor inventory management system in place, you’ll experience more double-booking of items, more items with undocumented damage (and now you have to find a replacement!), and more headaches during your fulfillment process. As a result, your clients will receive inconsistent, lower quality results for their events. They may then tell their friends and family about their sub-par experience, and maybe write a few bad reviews online. And just like that, your company’s reputation is damaged.

Luckily, there are a few key improvements you can make to your inventory management system that will have a positive impact on your business.

All About Inventory Management for Event Professionals

#1 – Create an organizational system & stick to it

Hands down, this is the most important factor for improving your inventory management system. While this is especially challenging during busy season, consistency is key, so you’ll want to get your whole team involved (more on that in #2). Here are some organizational tips to keep you and your team on track:

1. Separate your items by size, category, then type.

2. Every item should have its own designated place. Clearly marking storage locations for each item will prevent constant shifting during the busy season when you’re just trying to find “a place” for an item. Always return items to their proper location!

3. To maximize space, store your items on shelving within your warehouse. Make sure both large and small items are visible and accessible to your team.

4. Keep linens and upholstered items in a clean area. If you don’t have a separate, low dust location, cover upholstered items and store linens in plastic to keep them fresh and clean.

5. Take apart your assembled items before returning them to their warehouse location. This will make them easier to clean and store.

#2 – Keep your team in the loop

Your inventory management system won’t work if your team isn’t aware of all of your policies, procedures, and expectations. Have a training session whenever you update or change your policies and procedures, just before busy season, and of course any time you hire a new employee. This will ensure your clients are always receiving the consistent, quality service they expect.

To improve communication between your teammates, look for a quality event inventory management software that allows you to send messages, emails, and notes from within the software itself. This will allow you to quickly communicate any changes to items or projects with your team— without having to yell across a warehouse. This will also cut down on playing the blame-game anytime something goes wrong, as there will be a clear, documented trail of communication between you and your team members.

#3 – Track your tools and equipment

Hammers, screwdrivers, sand bags, dollies, stakes…while these items aren’t glamorous, they are necessary for you to create a successful event. These ancillary items deserve the same consideration as your inventory items. Store them in an easily accessible location— perhaps near the items they go with (e.g. keep the stakes near the tents)— and keep track of them the same way you do your other inventory items (e.g. total number of tent stakes and their availability). This will cut down on lost items (which can get expensive for items like dollies and drills) and eliminate instances where run out of stakes for your tents. 

#4 – Keep your inventory up to date

If you purchase new items, it’s critical that you add them to your inventory management software ASAP. Equally as important is tracking any lost, broken, or damaged items. Having an accurate count on your available inventory items will go a long way in preventing accidental double bookings. 

Additionally, keeping track of broken and damaged items is important for monitoring your business expenses. While most item damage is repairable, sometimes items cannot be salvaged, and replacements can be expensive. 

While occasional damage is part of the business, repeated or heavy damage may be indicative of a problem client. Keeping a record of damaged items and the events where the damage occurred will help you spot these problem clients and avoid renting to them in the future.

#5 – Add inventory management software to your toolkit

Investing in a good inventory management software will be a game changer for your rental company. Not only will it help you organize and keep track of your inventory, but it will also help you solve challenges like avoiding double-booking, quickly documenting item losses and damages, and keeping your team apprised of any event changes. You can then spend all of the time you save not having to deal with these issues on refining your events and closing more deals.

Once you make these updates to your inventory management system, you’ll find that they will quickly become second-nature to you and your team. Not only will implementing these changes help your company run more efficiently, but you’ll also notice increased client satisfaction too.

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Karen Gordon

Karen Gordon has spent her career growing event and technology companies through consultative sales and strategic growth strategies. She’s developed client and brand experiences for companies such as LivingSocial and Surprise Ride (as seen on Shark Tank). Now, as the Senior Vice President at Goodshuffle Pro, she combines her love of both events and technology to drive the company’s growth in revolutionizing the event rental, design, and production industries with modern technology. She’s the NACE National Business Development Committee Chair for 2019 and 2020 and speaks nationally about events, event tech, and business strategy

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