Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inventory Season "Open"

Growing up in western Nebraska, Fall always brought upon us Hunting season.   My father started bringing me along on hunts as soon as I was strong enough to walk the fields or old enough not to cry about not feeling my frozen toes sitting in a duck blind or goose pit.  He let me carry my fake gun, which eventually evolved into a Red Ryder BB gun and on to my first shotgun, a bolt action single shot 20 gauge.   His intent there was to make me a good shot by only giving me one shell and telling me to make it count.  Well, as it turns out, for any of you that have gone hunting or shooting with me...that is not exactly my strength.  I was told once after blowing many holes into the air... "You couldn't hit the side of a barn with a handful of rice".   Indeed that may be true.

Unfortunately for me (as well as the ammo manufacturers), today living in Omaha, running a business and raising three kids, I find very little time to pursue this childhood passion.  I have taken up shooting with my oldest daughter.  She's a chip off the old block.  Last time we were out, she shot the back of the trap house on accident.  At least she hit something.  Grandpa would be proud.

Luckily I have found things I am a bit better at in life.  In this particular case, I wish I wasn't.  One lesson you should take away from this: never do anything well you don't like doing, or you just might get stuck doing it for a long time. 

I have traded in Hunting season for Inventory Season.   One of the absolute delights of owning a retail business is doing physical inventories for each location.  Every year I get to go through each of our stores with a team of dedicated (by dedicated I mean willing to be at work at 6am, drinking Red Bull, and listening to 1980's Hair Bands) co-workers whom scan and count every single SKU in our company.  Currently we average around 5,000 SKU's per store X 6 stores and you can see what a thrill awaits us.  As I type this "Run to the Hills" by Iron Maiden comes to mind.....

Yep, that's part of living the dream in a retail business.  It is particularly important in our business model because we rely on just in time inventory process that is triggered and set in motion by established minimum inventory levels.  If the inventory isn't correct, the product doesn't flow through the stores accordingly.  

There are many other reasons we do this.  It helps us to gauge "shrink" as well as turn up some dead inventory we need to move.  Not to mention the fact that the bank sure appreciates knowing your inventory is accurate.  They hate big surprises.  Believe me, we know.

I won't complain too much.  Our first inventories used to take 3 days working around the clock using the old pencil and paper method.  We now have electronic scanners and can finish a store inventory under 12hrs. 

Well...I'm of to St. Louis for the season Opener.  If you see me over the next month and my eyes are glazed over...it's not an endorphin high from a long ride....or too much time spent at Oktoberfest, it's "Inventory Season" and I'm just living the dream!