This article is about how to improve your salesperson's efficiency. What you might find surprising is that this will actually have very little to do with your salespersons! This report will show you how to make small changes within your Solid Route Accounting™ software to shave seconds, minutes, and by week's end hours off of your salesperson's work without increasing their responsibilities.
In fact, this article will show you how to reduce their responsibilities so they have fewer things to worry about, fewer records to sort through, and fewer errors to correct. The best thing is that many of these things will require a very little amount of your time to implement; however, the more of these you can use, the more money will show up in your bank account at the end of the month.
Click here to read Speed Up Your Route Sales People - Part 1.
Inventory records are often the largest catalogue of records a business owner has to keep track of. So does it not make sense that improving this one aspect can improve how your salespersons do business overall? This section will provide you with ideas on how you can tighten up this side of your business to make your salespersons more efficient when adding items to a transaction.
1. Item Organization
Once again, putting careful thought into how your inventory records are organized alphanumerically can go a long way to increase the efficiency of your salespersons as they create transactions. The mobiles can be set up to list inventory records by either Part Number or Description.
This process usually begins at the department/category level. A department/category is a grouping of similar inventory items. It could be as simple as 'POP' for all carbonated beverages or, more specifically, 'POPRB' for all your Root Beer items. Once the department is in place, what you've done is state the common characteristic of all the items associated with this department.
From here, when creating the Inventory Records to be associated with this department, you can use this to your advantage by starting with this common characteristic and becoming more specific as the part number reads to the right. For instance, a 500ml six-pack of root beer may have a part number of 'POPRB500ML6PK'. This item will be easy to find in an alphanumeric list because it sorts itself as it goes. All the POP items are together. Then all the root beer items, followed by the 500ml root beer items, and lastly, the exact item you're looking for, being a six-pack.
Once again, this method can be applied to both the Part Number or Description fields for sorting on mobile computers, so choose the field that works best for you. Ideally, the entire inventory they sell can be scanned in using barcodes; however, when they need to use the inventory list, this organization is the key quickly finding the needed part.
2. Keeping the Inventory Catalogue Up To Date
For the same reasons that it is important to keep your customer records accurate and up to date, it's more important for the inventory records, simply because there are so many more of them in most DSD businesses. For this reason, your inventory items that are available on the mobile computers must be priced accurately, items you are actively selling, and have correct quantity levels so that the salesperson knows what they have left on both their truck and back at the warehouse. Phrases like, "I'll go see if I have some left," and "I'll check and see if we still carry that" are time-wasting sentences in that if the salesperson has to say them, they are going to be wasting time to confirm it.
Any inventory item that is no longer carried should be removed from the company data. This will allow salespersons to add items from a list, if need be, much more quickly when they do not have to sort through and scroll through a bunch of inactive inventory items. This will also reduce the potential for an inactive item to be added to an invoice accidentally.
Although at Solid, we believe that every company should practice Inventory Management, including accurate inventory levels through buying, stock transfers, and regular inventory counts, we understand that not every business is concerned about this aspect of their business.
For more information, see Solid Kow How™ Article #319 Multi-warehouse (aka Multi-Location) Inventory Control.
Barcodes can drastically speed up the invoice creation process and also increases the accuracy of invoices. With barcodes, the correct item is added to the invoice every time that barcode is scanned. This eliminates the human error possibility of selecting the wrong part by accident because when dealing with a big list of items, the names can look so similar that mistakes can easily be made.
We realize that not every item may have a barcode on it. There are ways, though, to get around this:
- Make your own barcodes. You can buy barcode generators online. Using these, you can create your own unregistered barcodes that you can use within your business to track and invoice your items.
- Ask your customers if you can add barcodes to their shelves, usually beside the price tabs. This way, the barcode is there in the store when the salesperson makes the order.
- Create a barcode catalogue. If you only have a handful of items without barcodes, this can be an effective workaround and doesn't require a barcode sticker on the products.
Without barcodes, adding items onto invoices involves searching for an item in the inventory list. This is time-consuming. Using barcodes eliminates the manual search.
4. Inventory Filters
Applying filter criteria will reduce the number of inventory items that are downloaded to mobile devices.
For more details, see Solid Know How™ Article #286 Item Filtering.