From XU Magazine, 
Issue 17

Knowing when your client’s inventory management needs an upgrade

According to Xero, only 11% of accountants are advising their clients on cloud apps. That means 89% are putting themselves at risk of losing clients...
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Only a small portion of your client base will benefit from a dedicated inventory management app. Below 20%, in my experience. But for those who do, it puts an end to the stock outs, poor sales and dissatisfied customers that are often preventing growth. Many businesses are unaware that an answer to these issues exists.

This is where you come in. When accountants and bookkeepers offer advice on improving efficiency, their clients listen. By introducing dedicated inventory management to clients that need it, you can dramatically improve quality of life for both your clients and yourself.

The core of a component solution

Our wholesale and manufacturing customers regularly tell us that their inventory management system is the heart of their cloud component solution, with accounting software playing a vital but secondary role in the process. Upgrading to a dedicated system typically saves these customers many hours in wasted time.

The benefits of moving data into the cloud are known and numerous; you lose the inherent risks of storing it yourself. No longer can you be held to ransom by the person who holds the keys to your stock data; instead it can be accessed anywhere, by anyone you choose, at any time.

Furthermore, cloud inventory management can bring wholesale improvements to the service you offer your clients. With detailed journals and fewer time-consuming errors to reconcile, you get to focus on doing what you do best: delivering proactive advice.

In short, ignoring a client who is struggling with their stock not only means leaving them to fend without the tool they need to run their business properly: it means ignoring the opportunity to improve how you work with them.

Spotting a business with inventory issues

So, how can you tell when your client is headed for an inventory management disaster? It all boils down to two things: keeping an eye out for some telltale signs and asking the right questions at the right time. Let’s look at the signs first.

The first sign is that the management reports you receive from your clients are getting less and less coherent. Figures which don’t look right are often symptomatic of poorly managed inventory. Nonsensical stock adjustments, even more so.

The second sign is increasing inventory costs. This could be caused by wastage, or it might be because your client isn’t holding stock efficiently. Either way, a solid system will help bring costs back to manageable levels, and stop them eating into their margin.

Finally, watch out for slowing sales. Sales can slow for a number of reasons, but many Unleashed clients say they lost sight of sales because they were spending too much time managing their inventory. If you notice that your client’s sales numbers are dropping, do some digging to find out why.

Asking the right questions

These signs are a solid way of detecting a client who might be struggling with inventory management, but it’s worth asking some questions to really understand their requirements. After all, you don’t want to push your client to adopt a tool they don’t actually need.

1) How many spreadsheets do you currently use to manage inventory?

The more complicated your client’s spreadsheet setup is, the more likely it is that it could all collapse. This is especially true when a business augments an existing inventory management solution with Excel, adding extra sheets over time to keep things ticking over.

2) How much time and manpower do you currently spend on inventory management?

There’s no magic number here. A company doesn’t necessarily need a cloud solution solely because they spend a lot of time managing stock. However, businesses tend to be pretty good at self-diagnosis. If your client thinks they’re spending too much time on inventory, they’re probably right.

3) How easy is it to accurately see how much stock you currently have, and its location?

Losing sight of stock is probably the most common issue driving new customers to adopt Unleashed. The real point here is whether your client wants more transparency over their inventory. If they have none and don’t care, they’re unlikely to put the work into properly setting up dedicated software.

Avoiding the setup

Properly setting up inventory management usually requires time and effort.  As an accountant or a bookkeeper, though, you’re in a unique position — you can skip this step entirely. I’d recommend that you do.

At Unleashed, we consider ourselves experts in onboarding customers onto our own software. When a business needs an extra bit of help, we team up with implementation partners to ensure they get it.

We see the role of accountants and bookkeepers as purely advisory. In my experience, when advisors try to get too hands-on with the setup process things can often go awry. That’s why we launched Unleashed Referral Partnerships: to give advisors the resources they need to recommend our solution, leaving setup to someone else.

So yes, it’s about time you started to consider cloud inventory management for your clients. But happily, that’s all you need to do.

Why leave it there?

Find out more

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