If you own, run, or work in an auto body shop, chances are you’ve got a ton of auto parts on hand. And managing all these spare auto parts can feel like a full-time job. That’s why many people in the auto repair industry use an inventory management system—like an inventory app or an auto parts inventory spreadsheet—to keep tabs on all their inventory.
This article will outline the five steps to managing your auto parts inventory, from getting organized to auditing inventory at the end of each year. We’ll also help you choose an inventory management system and provide an auto parts inventory template to help you get started.
Five steps to managing auto parts inventory
Managing your company’s spare auto parts doesn’t have to be stressful. To streamline the process and save yourself a ton of time, stress, and money, try implementing this five-step process:
1. Organize your physical inventory
Before you even think about cataloging your inventory, start by making sure your auto body shop (and anywhere else you store inventory) is organized. Rethink your storage space, place the highest-turnover items in the easiest-to-access places, and ensure any inventory that’s no longer usable or sellable is removed. This will help you streamline and simplify your inventory list in the next step — and perhaps have the added benefit of making your day-to-day operations easier.
You’ll want to create an organization system that makes sense for everyone on your team, from the people who count inventory and place orders to the employees who rely on well-stocked shelves to complete their service orders.
2. Make an inventory list
Once you’ve gotten organized, you can start taking inventory. You’ll want to create a comprehensive, detail-rich inventory list and then label physical inventory with a barcode or QR code. (Not sure how? Here’s a how-to guide to barcoding inventory.)
The easiest way to do this is with the help of a modern, intuitive inventory app. Sortly’s inventory software lets you upload high-resolution photos of your inventory, then pepper in tons of custom details about each product. You can then sync the inventory to an existing barcode or QR code or generate a customized one and print it out on label paper.
If you’re not quite ready to make a digital inventory list, use a sheet of paper or an inventory spreadsheet. We’ve even provided an inventory spreadsheet template made just for auto body shops further along in this article.
3. Take inventory regularly
Now that you’ve organized your auto body shop and constructed a thorough inventory list, you’ll need to take inventory regularly to ensure your records are accurate. Taking stock regularly will also help ensure the orders you place with your suppliers are correct and complete.
There are two ways to take inventory: physically or perpetually. If you opt to conduct physical inventory, you’ll need to manually count the product on your shelves; update your inventory list, spreadsheet, or app; and then place orders accordingly.
If you’re using inventory management software, you can practice perpetual inventory and update inventory quantities every time items are sold or consumed. This allows you to keep inventory records that are always accurate and up to date, which makes placing orders properly a breeze.
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4. Perform a year-end inventory count
At the end of every calendar year—or more frequently, if you’re concerned about inventory shrinkage—you’ll want to conduct a thorough year-end inventory count. The results of this inventory audit can be used in many ways, including:
- Properly, accurately updating your auto parts inventory list—even if you practice perpetual inventory
- Calculating inventory shrinkage rate
- Forecasting demand for the following year
- Creating an accurate balance sheet
- Calculating depreciation of assets like machinery and equipment
- Deciding what to do about inventory that’s expiring soon or facing obsolescence
This is also an opportunity to reorganize your shop, rethink your inventory management system, and consider upgrading from an inventory spreadsheet to an inventory app.
Related: Best Practices for Spare Parts Inventory Management
5. Set alerts and reminders
Whether you’ve chosen to keep your auto body shop’s inventory by hand, via spreadsheet, or with an inventory app, you’ll need to keep an eye on low inventory counts and important dates. After all, you’ll want to know when inventory is running low or if certain auto parts are approaching warranty end or expiration.
If you manage inventory manually or using a spreadsheet, schedule your physical inventory counts regularly to align with your suppliers’ lead times. For example, you might count inventory at the end of every business week and then place orders Friday afternoon. You’ll also need to create calendar reminders for important dates, like expiration dates for brake pads and warranty end dates for machinery like car lifts.
If you’re using an inventory app like Sortly, you can simply create customized alerts for each item in your inventory. You’ll receive an email or in-app notification when inventory levels are dwindling or an item is approaching expiration or warranty end.
Auto parts inventory template
Searching for the right auto parts inventory excel template? Our inventory experts crafted an inventory spreadsheet perfect for businesses like yours. We’ve populated the template with some of the most popular items stocked by auto body shops, too.
The template is yours to customize, so feel free to customize it to meet your company’s unique business needs. And best of all, it’s quick and easy to upload data from this spreadsheet to software like Sortly if and when you’re ready to make the switch.
Sortly is a top-rated inventory management software solution trusted by businesses across all industries, including auto shops. With powerful automation features and an easy-to-use interface, our inventory app is perfect for any company that wants to get organized, keep track of what they have on hand, and save tons of time, stress, and money.
Some of our customers’ favorite features? High-resolution pictures that make it easy to differentiate products, in-app barcode and QR code scanning for even faster inventorying, and the ability to instantly generate detail-rich reports.
Ready to get your auto body shop organized for good? Start a free, two-week trial of Sortly today.