Ordering system : Locksmith

Hello everyone:

Through some strange fate, I am now pretty much the only locksmith in our shop. The owner (40+ years experience as a locksmith) is around more now because everyone else quit, however, everything that the other experienced locksmiths did now falls on me. As a result, I feel like it’s time to make a few changes to make life easier in our shop, specifically in regards to inventory management and ordering.

As it is right now, inventory is not managed in any way. Say we need some SC1 KIK cylinders for a job. Let’s say 10 for easy math. Well, we go and check the warehouse and there they are. We use 10 of the 12 that are there, now we are down to 2. If you (or me) was smart, then we would order another box of them to keep the warehouse stocked. But the only way to know that we need some is to actually inspect the shelf where the cylinders go and know that we need more.

So now,  we need to put in an order. First, we write down the amount, item number, and description on a daily order form. Anything we need for the day goes on there. When it’s time to order, we make the order through our supplier. Now, the items get a check mark to the side showing that yes, they were ordered. The order sheet goes in a huge pile of bullshit and the waiting begins.

Once the order arrives, we check the packing list to make sure what we ordered is in there. Each item gets crossed out on the packing list and the corresponding item gets crossed out on the paper order form. Both of these go in to their respective piles of bullshit and that’s it. Cylinders or whatever has been successfully ordered and are placed in their spot on one of the warehouse shelves. Now apply this process to the hundreds of items that you would find in a locksmith shop and you can see the problem.

I hate this system. There is no way to tell if we need something, no way to tell if we ordered something. No way to tell if something was for a specific job or if it is stock for the warehouse. It’s basically a bunch of piles of paper that no one gave a shit about. Is it in chronological order at least? Fuck no it isn’t! No one cared if a fan or whatever disturbed one of the piles, they would simply put the sheets of paper back on to their respective piles and call it a day. And this type of shit went on for YEARS.

So now, I am trying to come up with a way to make things easier and more organized. I was thinking binders with dividers would be easiest. Organize them with tabs for months, so all the January orders can go in their section and all the Feburary packing slips can go in their own binder in their sections. Makes a bit more sense than the current system, which basically doesn’t exist.

So, how do you guys manage ordering at your shops? I imagine there is probably some software that we could use to make things easier. But everything in our shop is done on paper, just like it has been done for decades. I’m hesitant to try and introduce some sort of digital system because I don’t really want to shake the system up too much, but something has to be done.

I feel like I am in way over my head on this. I’m pretty bummed that everyone else quit. I’ve always wanted to be a locksmith, ever since I found out that I could pick more than my nose, so I’m not going to quit or anything like that. I just want to make things easier…

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