Wholesale Distribution operations spend big money to operate and manage warehouse functions. You have invested in inventory you hope you are able to sell, you bought or leased heavy equipment to move the goods and you have hired and trained competent staff to manage all this movement. Now is a good time to do an evaluation and plan for 2015. Work on improving performance in your warehouse operations. Get your warehouse ready for 2015.

Learn how to assess and make changes in your warehouse and be ready to take on more business in 2015. Take these three steps now to fine tune your warehouse for a healthier and more profitable 2015.

Step 1 – Review 2014 Successes and Missteps

Success / Failure

Where were you most successful in meeting your customers’ needs in 2014? Was it with specific product lines or a customer or two that made significant contributions to your bottom line? You want to see where you can focus more of the same in 2015, so now is the time to talk to those accounts and see if you can pull in more of that business.

If it was a product group that excelled this year, talk to your suppliers about expanding to include complementary items. Plan to visit a trade show that highlights these products. This will allow you to become more knowledgeable of these items and to get contacts in this field. Then promote these products to your clients.

You also need to look at product lines that are not pulling their weight. Review items where the turn rate has fallen from previous years. Turn rates of one or two times a year may not be in your best interests. You need to decide if dropping these items in favour of adding new lines would benefit your business. This is a great opportunity to work with key accounts and your key vendors. What new products do they see coming down the pipe that you can get in on now?

Step 2 – Walk the Warehouse

Walking around the Warehouse

There is no better way to see your warehouse health than by getting a good inside view. Invite your purchasing agents and some key warehouse staff and take a walk down each isle. What do you all see? Do you see lots of empty and underutilized bins? Is some product covered in dust? Ask staff what items they see as issues in the warehouse space. You can run turn reports for this to see items that aren’t moving – but I find seeing the physical items on the floor helps promote change.

Also look at how the items are stored. Can the product be organized better to locate more inventory in the warehouse space? Do you see under-utilized space where new shelving units could be erected? Mezzanine levels, overhead racking and other less accessible space can be valuable to address your warehouse storage needs.

A walk around can generate new ideas to better plan the warehouse layout and maximize the space you already have. Remember, you have already invested in heat, lighting and equipment for the area – now maximize the storage of products in that space.

Step 3 – Get more Organized

Get Organized!

December is a great time to start some new habits and make changes. Warehouse activities are slowing and you have an opportunity to make some adjustments in processes before the start of 2015. Look at reorganizing your products or slotting. Look at your over-flow areas to see if they can be better organized to hold more inventory. Clean the warehouse space and maybe start a special project to upgrade that shipping station that has given you problems in the past.

You are looking to build on the proven successes of 2014 and develop a strategy to make 2015 an even better year. Get out of your office and into the warehouse to make this space ready for a successful 2015.

To read more about current trends in Distribution and Warehouse Management techniques, please visit one of the following recent posts;

About the author:

Beckard president Dave Savard brings extensive management, business planning, and operational expertise to the company, gained through two decades of public and private sector management experience. Dave’s ability to diagnose client operational problems and provide effective, practical solutions has earned him the enduring loyalty of clients. He is also known for a deep commitment to customer service, ensuring that client needs are not only met but that client priorities are considered in future product enhancements.  In his role as company president, Dave holds responsibility for operations, planning and customer service. Dave has a degree in Economics and Law from Carleton University.

Beckard Associates is a full service ERP and Wholesale Distribution Software company providing Accounting, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to companies across North America. We write blog articles that inform and educate are clients and colleagues. If you would like to learn more, please visit us at beckard.com.

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