When you manage equipment, ironing out a routine to stay organized and on track is easier said than done — especially if you’re running a rental business or manage equipment within your organization.
Lacking the right digital tools can make it hard for companies to manage inventory and monitor how equipment is used. Luckily, Booqable is your digital equipment management system, where your team can manage inventory, track equipment usage, and anticipate shortages. In Booqable, you’ve got your equipment inventory organized in one place, and tracking the who, where, what of your assets is one click away.
We’ve compiled our top tips for rental businesses to build an equipment inventory database, maximize usage, and avoid human error — no matter how much equipment or how many locations your company has.
Equipment inventory management is the act of keeping track of your rental company’s assets and monitoring their usage, location, quantities, and availability. The goal of equipment inventory management is to minimize the risk of overbooking (and double bookings) and reduce equipment loss by helping you know who is using your equipment, how much you have in stock, and when it’s due back.
The term equipment tracking can be used interchangeably with equipment inventory management. It refers to keeping track of your stock, typically due to effective inventory management processes. It’s much easier to stay organized by managing all your rental equipment in one place.
Effective inventory management is the cornerstone of any rental operation. Without proper inventory management, it isn’t easy to know the whereabouts and availability of your items. Guesswork can result in a business wasting money by stocking too much equipment or investing in the wrong assets. Equipment inventory management also helps your rental business in several other ways.
If you’re renting out equipment short-term, like camera gear or power tools, there’s a real chance that one of your items goes missing at some point. Managing equipment inventory effectively helps you avoid unnecessary losses.
Idle inventory, also known as dead stock, is stock that doesn’t generate any revenue but not necessarily because you have too much. Items could have been damaged, outdated, or not planned in enough. By adopting the right tools and strategies, you can increase usage and squeeze more revenue out of each piece of equipment.
Storage isn’t cheap. Storage costs usually vary based on the size of your equipment inventory. When you stock too much equipment or end up with many unused items in your warehouse, your warehousing costs go up. Avoiding this will save you money.
The right inventory tracking method depends on the type of equipment a company rents out. Therefore, the optimal inventory management strategy is different for each rental business.
However, there are commonalities. Every business should strive to reduce human error by automating inventory management as much as possible, which means taking advantage of equipment management software. If you run your rental business with Booqable, inventory management comes built-in.
Regardless of the systems you use, the following techniques will improve your equipment inventory management.
It might sound obvious, but proper equipment management starts by knowing what you have. Creating an inventory database will enable you to track, identify, and locate your equipment more quickly.
Make equipment tracking easier by setting up unique identifying information for products you want to track granularly. While you could use serial numbers for this, it’s better to use something more recognizable. The identifier should enable your team to identify assets instantly as they’re managing and handling equipment.
Not all your items need unique identifying information. Some of them might be interchangeable or not worth tracking individually. That’s when you only want to track how many you have in stock, so you can handle equipment more efficiently and not worry about the specifics. Typically, companies use this tracking method for managing bulk, where speed is more important than granularity.
Note: Store interchangeable items in the same place for easy access. Also, categorize your equipment by size, type, brand, or intended use to manage equipment inventory more effectively.
Once you know what you have, you can start tracking how your equipment is being used. Here are some questions you should be able to answer for each piece of equipment in your inventory:
The answers to these questions will allow you to make more informed decisions about which equipment to buy. You don’t want to spend more money on inventory than you have to. When items are collecting dust in your warehouse, you know your equipment management strategy needs adjustment.
More importantly, you’ll build up historical data by tracking your assets. If a piece of equipment goes missing, you’ll have a record of the last person using it, when they used it, and where they used your equipment. Over time, this is valuable data as the cost of lost and stolen equipment adds up.
Note: Keep track of equipment by checking items in and out. It allows you to track what’s in stock or out with customers and monitor the movement of equipment in general.
Even the most organized among us struggle with one thing — managing inventory across locations. If you manage or stock inventory at multiple locations, how should you divide your assets between them? An equal division may sound sensible. But that isn’t practical as demand is unlikely to be the same at each location.
By tracking equipment usage and keeping your inventory data up-to-date, you’ll get an idea of where your assets are needed the most. These insights help you decide how much inventory to stock at each location. It also gives you an estimate of how frequently you need to transfer equipment from one place to another.
Also, consider this: If customers pick up the equipment at one place and return it at another, you quickly end up with too much stock at one location and a shortage elsewhere. Transport is essential in your equipment management strategy, as demand and supply can fluctuate between locations.
A big part of good equipment inventory management comes down to accurately forecasting equipment availability. Again, this emphasizes the importance of proper equipment tracking.
Organizations can forecast more effectively by taking reservations in advance — especially when there’s a short supply or when preparation takes a long time. By reserving items in advance, you can also avoid last-minute bookings and ensure equipment availability for your customers.
Equipment reservations result in better forecasts. It becomes easier to know where your equipment is going and how much you have available. You’ll have a better overview of upcoming equipment bookings, as well as due dates for customer pickups and returns.
In most cases, you’ll be relying on software and reports to know how much equipment you have in stock. However, it’s essential to make sure everything matches up. That’s why regular inventory auditing is necessary.
Physical inventory is the process where a business counts all equipment at once. It often goes hand-in-hand with accounting and tax regulations, so it’s typically done at the end of the year.
Instead of doing a full inventory count at once (which is pretty tedious), cycle counts spread things out more. Most companies do inventory checks each week, month, or quarter, where high-value items get checked more frequently.
Safety stock is your back-up equipment. It’s inventory you set aside for use in case of emergency. It can also act as a buffer for when you have shortages. Instead of sub-renting or buying more equipment, you’ll always be able to allocate your safety stock.
It’s smart to include safety stock into your equipment inventory management strategy. You’ll be glad you did when equipment comes back damaged, your re-order takes longer than expected, or some other unforeseen situation occurs.
Barcodes and QR codes are two other great ways to make your equipment easy to identify. Barcode scanners are relatively simple tools that many rental businesses overlook until mistakes and inefficiencies start to happen.
One of the biggest benefits of using barcodes for equipment management is a massive increase in productivity. Barcodes can save your team countless hours by scanning tags with a mobile app or barcode scanner. They ensure the right equipment goes out and reduce human error in general.
While many early-stage companies use pen and paper or spreadsheets to manage equipment, this gets disorganized quickly. Not to mention that it leaves you and your team vulnerable to human error, which can hurt your business.
With the right equipment inventory system in place, you can reduce costs, prevent overbooking, avoid idle inventory, and much more. We might be slightly biased, but we genuinely believe that a modern, easy-to-use equipment management system can improve your processes. It automates many of the back-office tasks, so you and your team can focus on serving more customers without worrying about your equipment.
The best part is that it grows with you, so you can scale your business with a system that’s capable of handling your equipment inventory now and in the future.