A Simple Guide to Inventory Counting Methods

Inventory counting methods are a great inventory management technique to help your business get an accurate count of your inventory in case of loss or theft.

Taking a physical inventory count is the process of physically counting your current inventory (both rental and sales!) in real-time and comparing it with the counts you already have for each item to evaluate for differences in quantities.

Making sure you have the most up-to-date inventory is very important. If not, you could easily run into sudden shortages of equipment meaning that you have to scramble for alternatives or subrentals. 

By having this accurate count, you can determine if your inventory processes are working well and if not, put additional checks or processes in place to work more efficiently and reduce losses.

Some companies already conduct regular physical inventory counts and others may be wondering how to start.

In this article, we will guide you through tips to keep in mind when conducting or getting started with your inventory counts.


What types of inventory counting methods should you use?

In the event industry, businesses can easily be busy all year round. This can make it a little more difficult to find the time to conduct your inventory count.

There are 2 methods to consider for counting your inventory:

  1. A full inventory count of all of your equipment.
  2. Cycle counting with small sections of your inventory regularly.

In the end, both methods end with counting your full inventory. Since inventory counts can be time-consuming, It is up to you to decide if you would like to do the full count in 1-2 days or spread this out in smaller time frames throughout the year.

The benefit of cycle counting is that if you start counting a few racks and find shortages because items were stolen, you could easily implement stricter processes in the warehouse to reduce this from happening to the rest of the inventory before your next cycle count. With a full inventory, this would happen at the end of the total count.


When to execute your inventory count

In the previous section, we mentioned a couple of inventory counting methods to help you keep track of your stock levels. When it comes time to choose when to carry out your count, you can choose to do it annually, bi-annually, or more often if you are doing cycle counting.

Finding the right time to execute the inventory count will look different for each company depending on if they mostly serve festivals, weddings, conferences, etc. If your company serves multiple types of live events, it may seem like you never have a spare moment because there are always events going on.

Because of this, It can be difficult to completely stop operations or find quiet times when business is booming ⁠— and that's ok! Try your best to find a day or afternoon where you are not planning new projects or booking a lot in or out of the warehouse. If that's impossible, make sure people are manually informing the counters during the inventory count when items are needed elsewhere.


Who should be involved?

You might also want to think about adding crew members as part of your counting team to help you out with your inventory count. You want to make sure that you have crew members with high attention to detail and concentration to ensure that your inventory count is done accurately. This will help reduce any human error in the process.


Speed up your processes with Software

First and foremost we recommend making sure to keep your inventory and planning in a rental management software. This will ensure that you have the most up-to-date inventory counts including what is already on location or in maintenance. If you are using pen and paper or excel, it could easily be the case that your lists are outdated and do not reflect changes you have already made to the inventory.

Software systems can also speed up the inventory count process significantly as you are not having to deal with manual spreadsheets or hand-written notes. Most software also actively informs users when differences in inventory counts occur during the process, which reduces the need for manual calculations.


Speed up your counting with scanning

Usually, inventory software lets you either count and update numbers manually with data entry or scan and update numbers automatically with a scanner. We recommend taking the time to set up scanning of your equipment so you can easily track items and see a history of the scans.

By scanning the QR codes of your inventory items, you can also easily go through the warehouse and scan each item much quicker than manually checking them. This will help you further speed up your counting process.

You can even use your mobile phone or tablet 🎉. If you haven’t set up your equipment for scanning, it is never too late! Check out our tips for setting up QR codes or barcodes for your equipment.


Analyze your count and adapt based on outcomes

Once you have finalized your counts, it is important to analyze the data. Were there more items with a shortage than you anticipated? Is this due to lost items on location? Theft?

Determining the reasons for differences in quantities will help you manage your inventory accuracy and can help you better manage your inventory moving forward as you can put more efficient processes or checks in place to reduce losses. You can also take the opportunity to ensure maintenance and repair occurs if you notice some items are damaged during the counts.

Finding the reasons why inaccuracies have happened is easy. What is important is that you adapt and put processes in place to help reduce these.

For example, if you find you are losing a lot of equipment at events but don’t know which events, then you can implement scanning so that each individual item can be tracked and a history of scans can be viewed to see where the items were lost. There is nothing worse than losing an item worth thousands and not knowing when or where it was lost. With scanning, you have a more detailed view of where items have been.


Continue your counts with Rentman

To sum up, even if you have an inventory management solution, it is still important to conduct regular inventory counts in case processes are not working as efficiently as they should be. Inventory counts help you reduce sudden shortages and determine what internal processes need adjusting to improve your overall business operations.

Rentman not only manages your entire inventory but also helps you easily conduct your inventory count by providing a dedicated section for counting your inventory and immediately informing you of inventory shortages or overages during the counts. You can read more about how Rentman can help with your inventory counts here: Count your inventory with Rentman

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