Five Roadblocks to Good Inventory Management — And the Upside of Overcoming Them

– by Joe Hodes

By addressing the root causes behind inventory management problems you’ll be well on your way to smoother operations and improved cash flow.

Efficient inventory management is crucial for smooth operations and better bottom-line performance. However, there are common factors that often impede plumbing shops from tackling inventory problems and solving them. Here are the five main reasons plumbing shops struggle with inventory management – and the rewards enjoyed by those who overcome them.


Top 5 Obstacles of Good Inventory Management

The first step in solving any problem is to make sure you’re solving the right one. But it can be difficult in a complex business environment where the right mix of people, process, and product must be constantly evaluated and adjusted.

This is especially true in inventory management, so we’ve identified the five key obstacles that often trip up owners and must be overcome to drive higher productivity and profits. Here are the key obstacles.


Lack of understanding.

Many owners and managers don’t naturally possess a knowledge of inventory management principles or the expertise to implement effective strategies. This can result in inadequate stock levels, excess inventory, and financial losses.

Solution: Education, training, and expert advice can greatly enhance understanding and proficiency.


Lack of dedicated personnel.

Not having a dedicated inventory manager or someone focused on the issue usually means that no one is focused on it. Inventory-related tasks often fall upon already busy staff members who may not have the expertise or time to handle inventory effectively.

Solution: Assign one or two individuals to focus on inventory, maintain accurate records, monitor stock levels, and reordering in a timely manner.


Lack of automation.

Many plumbing shops still rely on manual methods to manage their inventory, which can be time-consuming, error-prone, and inefficient.

Solution: Implement proven inventory software and hardware automation solutions that streamline processes and enable real-time tracking of stock levels.


Absence of policies and procedures.

Without clear guidelines on receiving, organizing, and categorizing parts, as well as procedures for inventory counts and reordering, confusion can arise.

Solution: Establish standardized processes, including guidelines for ordering, adding SKUs, storage, returns, and stock discrepancies.


Inadequate maintenance.

Maintaining an accurate and up-to-date inventory is a continuous effort that requires regular attention.

Solution: Make stock audits, cycle counts, and reviews of slow-moving or outdated items automatic and easy with clear instructions and inventory management systems.


Top 5 Benefits of Good Inventory Management

By addressing the root causes behind inventory management problems you’ll be well on your way to smoother operations and improved cash flow. Here are five additional reasons to do something about these problems sooner, rather than later.


Peace of mind.

Maintaining a well-organized and properly stocked shop brings peace of mind. With accurate records, streamlined processes, and optimal stock levels, you know your business is equipped to handle any plumbing job efficiently.


Increased profits and business valuation.

Efficient inventory management directly impacts profitability. By closely monitoring stock levels, identifying popular items, and eliminating excess inventory, you can retain more cash, increase your bottom line, and ultimately improve the value of your business.


More productive plumbing technicians.

Well-managed inventory directly affects the productivity and job satisfaction of plumbing technicians. When technicians can easily locate required parts and complete jobs promptly, that creates a more positive work environment, boosting team morale and employee retention.


Increased customer satisfaction.

Your customers expect timely and efficient service, and that means having the right parts on hand. Providing excellent service enhances customer satisfaction and leads to a positive reputation, increased referrals — and more business.



As business grows, managing inventory becomes increasingly complex. Scalability is crucial for long-term success, and a well-managed inventory system provides the necessary framework for growth.

Investing time and effort into good inventory management yields a multitude of benefits for plumbing businesses. From providing peace of mind to increasing profits, enhancing technician satisfaction, ensuring customer happiness, and facilitating scalability, effective inventory management is a cornerstone of successful business operations. Get your arms around your inventory practices today, and start enjoying the upside of streamlined operations, more business, and better results.

Joe Hodes

Joe Hodes is the president of Hodes Co. and consults with plumbing shop owners across the country on inventory management and optimization. You can reach him by email at or by phone at 816-914-5858.



Southern PHC June July 2023

This article originally appeared in the June / July 2023 issue of Southern PHC print edition. To view this and other issues online, visit the DIGITAL ISSUES PAGE.

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