Do you really know your trial inventory?
MAY 2018 | 5 MIN READ
Trial equipment is a critical part of your business as each customer’s exact needs and fit can be different. Are you taking the necessary steps to improve your businesses trial equipment productivity?
Follow along with the eight tips below to start saving money and time related to equipment in your inventory. Analyze your current trials process, the constraints and loss of productivity.
Does your initial trials process look something like this:
- (Admin) Create customer profile, Insurance profile, and requirements from Occupational Therapist
- (Admin) Book initial client trial meeting with a salesperson
- (Sales) Travels to client location fill out measurement forms for the type of equipment
- (Sales) Transfer information to a Service Manager/In-house Technician
- (Service) Set up trial equipment to forms specifications
- (Service) Perform quality assurance inspection
- (Service) Notify Salesperson that the trial equipment is set up
- (Sales) Deliver the trial equipment to the client
- (Sales) Make adjustment comments for Service Technician
- (Service) Makes adjustments to the trial equipment
- (Sales) Follows up with the client to see how trial equipment is working
From There On:
- (Sales) Confirmation of Trial equipment transferred to a Quote or Sales Order
- (Sales) Make Purchase Order for equipment from the manufacturer
- (Sales) Send coverage form request to coverage companies
- (Service) Recieve products from the manufacturer, set up equipment to configured specifications
- (Sales) Recieve coverage verifications from coverage companies
- (Sales) Invoice the parties involved with a breakdown of pricing
- (Admin) Recieve payments from parties
- (Sales) Deliver new product, return trial equipment
- (Service) Clean and return trial equipment to inventory
Quite the complex process with multiple areas where communication and productivity could easily become inefficient. Take a good look and list all of the steps and employees that are involved in completing your trial processes from the first contact to the final delivery of the sold product.
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8 Steps for effective trial equipment management
Know your inventory
At any given time can you check one place to know precisely what trial equipment in your inventory, what is in your store, and what is currently being trialed? Having a vague idea means that you might have to collect the information from several places or several employees, decreasing efficiency.
Now can you put a total dollar value of the equipment? The total value of all your trial equipment is probably higher than you would believe.
Create an overview of all trial equipment:
- List: all of your trial assets
- Information: purchased value, current value, location, type, date ranges of trials, serial #’s, etc
- Current: information should reflect your current inventory
How is each piece of equipment used
After grasping the amount of trial inventory and the total value of it, the next step is to know how each piece is being used. It may seem straightforward as crutches, wheelchairs, scooters, and hospital beds have a straightforward use. Have you ever delved into the historical data behind:
- How often the trial equipment is used
- Who has uses each product
- When and where is it was used
When you have this information, you can start to make analytical decisions about your current trial equipment, and your future inventory management strategy as a whole. Think about what products might be taking up valuable store or warehouse space that could be sold off as they are not being trialed and which pieces of equipment are often trialed as more need to be purchased.
Right (asset, place, and time)
Trials management can become complex if you have multiple locations as you need to think of how to divide your trial equipment between them? Should two locations split trial equipment 50/50? More than likely you can look back and see that this split might not be effective as the demand for certain equipment.
With historical data in hand, you can transfer the right trial equipment to the location they are needed the most. Having equipment gathering dust in one location when there is a shortage or potential sale at another location is inefficient.
The demand for trial equipment might fluctuate over time. Knowing when to sell off trial equipment at the right time for a discount will allow you to keep a current fleet.
Having an influx of trial requests and not being able to supply all your customers with the right equipment could hinder business. So do you purchase more trial equipment which in turn could sit in inventory thereafter?
This would be wasteful, based on the information that you have gathered you should be able to pick out the trends in the trial history of products. Which products are trialed more? Prioritize your purchasing on trial fleet towards the equipment that is trialed more, in turn selling off old equipment before it becomes out of date or the repairs on the equipment become too much.
Do you currently:
- Spend ten minutes after each piece of trial equipment has come back to inspect and service
- Spend two days every month repairing trial equipment
Keeping your trial equipment in great shape all the time can ensure that your inventory runs at 100% compacity, that your trial products last over time, and you are able to plan further maintenance if needed.
Trial equipment that is used more is more likely to break down, and require more scheduled maintenance. Planning maintenance based on the usage and need rather than a fixed schedule for your entire trial inventory will make more productive use of your service technicians time.
You know your equipment best and when it is set to be idle. Setting aside time to schedule maintenance in the future reduces the workload uncertainty for your service technicians.
Find the root issue
Do you have one piece of equipment that seems to constantly breakdown? Check back on historical data to see which pieces of trial equipment have had a request for service the most times and the number of days lost due to servicing. Use these data trends to your advantage.
Have you looked into which employee is performing the quality assurance check before the trial equipment goes out? Was the equipment properly repaired as an employee might not have received proper training on the servicing of the equipment. The cost to retrain the employee versus replacing the equipment outright will save you over time.
Up to date equipment
Over time trial equipment will need to be upgraded or replaced. Being able to see the right time to sell off each piece of trial equipment is critical. Look into:
- Which brands cause the most issues?
- Which equipment is liked best when trialed?
- Which brand of equipment loses you the most time and money by breaking down?
Are you still using a quill, ink, and paper…. we mean pen and paper. Maybe it’s because using a pen and paper is antiquated. Maybe you use spreadsheets? They have their disadvantages as well.
Automating communication and data flow linked to trials can save your team valuable hours and lost sales each month. A modern, user-friendly trial inventory system is a great way to automate the data input and background work, allowing your team to focus on the customer.
Being able to attach multiple employees to a trial with automated notifications when they are needed, the ability to push trial information to a quote, sales order, purchase order or invoice, the ability to make comments on adjustments that can be tracked is all valuable information that needs to be automated….and it is in MEHD.
The bottom line
These tips can get you started on creating a more efficient trial equipment system.
Spending time analyzing your current processes and equipment can save you in the future, impacting productivity and profit. You can thank after implementing MEHD and these best practices.