You Don't Know Jack

When it comes to selecting a new inventory service for your company what do you really know about these guys? You probably went through all the motions – issued a request for proposal, got some nice looking proposals back, had some meetings with the sales guy who dragged you through some crappy little PowerPoint show, with pretty pictures of people counting stuff, and the obligatory photo of his corporate office. Probably sifted through a ream of sample reports with your company logo at the top, too. Does this sound familiar? Did you sit through these agonizing meetings until your ears bled and everything faded into a white haze of sameness? Did the sales guys start sounding like the Charlie Brown teacher – “blah, blah-blah, ba-blahhhhhh”? Now your just left staring at the price quote left behind for your utmost consideration. What do you really know about any of these services?  You Don’t Know Jack!

I’m guessing they all pretty much sounded the same, offered the same general services, used equipment that looked pretty much the same, and told you they would be the best solution for your business.  Only way to tell them apart is by the color of shirt they wear when they show up to count your inventory.  So how do you pick your new service?  More than likely, you are looking for the differences between them all, and the only thing that appears to be different is ……price.  There it is, this is the one – they came in with the best price, so let’s pick them.  Quick, go tell the big cheese we have a winner and they’re going to save us money.  Guess what, you blew it, you fumbled on the one, you punted on third down, you dropped the game winner in the end zone, you missed it wide right, you failed.  You were so close to winning, but you didn’t finish the process and punch it in.

Don’t feel bad, most companies stop right where you did and make their decision strictly on price, and go no further.  What should you have done to get a win in this process?  How do you find the difference between inventory service companies?  I’m not saying price isn’t a factor – it is, but it shouldn’t be the only factor in the decision process.  Here are some things to look for and ask about when selecting and inventory service:

1) What do their current clients say about them?

Ask for references and contact them.  Ask about service, average crew sizes, consistency of crews, accuracy issues, time to complete audits, scheduling issues, reporting, flexibility for changes.

2) Testimonials

Did they offer to share any client testimonials with you?  Were any of their current clients willing to go on record (video) about their experiences with the company?

3) See them in action

Ask to attend a current client inventory to see the crews in action.  Ask for a schedule over a given time frame and attend anonymously.

4) Perform test counts

Schedule some test counts in your stores with the service to see them in action in your stores.  The cream will rise to the top, and the real winner will become apparent to both you and your store operations staff.

Think about it, when you want to buy a new copier, the copier salesman will usually offer to drop a loaner in your office for a test run.  You get to feel it, touch it, play with it and run it through the paces before you commit to a purchase.  Try it before you buy it – right?  Changing to a new inventory service can be a little overwhelming to the operations folks in your organization.  Many times their year-end bonus is riding on those inventory shrink results.  They can’t have the new service screwing that up for them!  It’s very easy for the finance chuckleheads to go with the lowest price, but God help them if the service shows up with a lite crew and botches the count.  Lowest price doesn’t look so good now.  Don’t stop short in your search – follow through and make sure you know what you’re buying.  Get to know Jack.

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