HVAC & Plumbing

Plumbing Inventory Best Practices & Supply List

June 14, 2024 • 6 min read

Virtually every industry benefits from implementing inventory management best practices. After all, keeping track of inventory’s stock levels and whereabouts, and when and how to reorder and organize that inventory, is crucial to running an efficient and profitable business. That said, companies in the plumbing industry can benefit even more from maintaining an accurate plumbing supply inventory list.

This, in part, is true because most plumbing operations maintain stock not only in a central location but also on trucks, vans, and other vehicles. With the right inventory management strategy in place, it’s much easier for a plumbing company to maintain an airtight plumbing supply inventory list and plumbing van inventory list. When employees know exactly where inventory is, it’s much easier to provide quick, high-quality customer service without wasting time or money.

In this article, we will focus on a few plumbing inventory best practices and then provide a plumbing supply inventory list spreadsheet that’s perfect for keeping your trucks, vans, warehouses, and stockrooms organized.


Plumbing inventory best practices

Like most industries, plumbing companies can benefit from proven inventory management best practices that help keep physical inventory organized and inventory lists accurate. Here are five of the most essential best practices to consider implementing today:

1. Organizing all inventory

The first step to any good inventory management strategy is physically organizing inventory everywhere it’s stored. In the plumbing industry, this means not only any central storage locations or warehouses but also the job sites and vehicles where supplies, materials, and equipment might be stored.

Generally, it’s recommended to thoroughly organize a warehouse first. This may mean investing in new racks and shelves, organizing and labeling bins, and creating a warehouse map that makes sense for your business’s operations. If you’re a smaller plumbing operation, you’ll still want to perform the same physical organization for your storage closets and stockrooms. Once these larger spaces are organized, move on to vans and other vehicles.

To improve organizational efforts, you may want to consider purchasing or building tool cribs or bundling inventory. You may also want to invest in secure storage spaces for high-value items such as copper wire.

We will touch on this more later, but most plumbing companies ultimately implement a barcode or QR code system to make the organization of and checking in and out of these supplies and materials manageable.

Free Ebook: Track Supplies & Consumables Like a Pro

This easy, comprehensive guide can help you:

  • Create an inventory list for supplies and consumables
  • Automate reordering with alerts and expiration reminders
  • Perform inventory audits for consumable inventory

2. Selecting a system to track inventory

Typically, large plumbing companies can have tens of thousands of items in stock. This means that using a spreadsheet or a pen-and-paper inventory system will not be enough to keep up with the movement of supplies, materials, equipment, and machinery. 

Instead, most plumbing companies serious about inventory control utilize inventory management software to keep track of items. This is particularly true if inventory is stored in more than one location.

Fortunately, there are a variety of affordable and flexible inventory management software systems on the market today. The best plumbing inventory software solutions will allow users to check items in and out via an in-app barcode or QR code scanner, alert the right people when an item is set to expire or hit a custom-set low stock level, and automatically track the location and condition of items and assets.

Related: Sortly for Plumbing Inventory Management

3. Track inventory perpetually

There are two main ways to track inventory: perpetually or physically. A perpetual inventory system calls for constant checking in and out of items as they arrive, are consumed or sold, or are moved from one location to another. 

The chief benefit of a perpetual inventory system is that your plumbing business will always know precisely where a given item or asset is at any time period. This enables your team to plan ahead, take on the day and new jobs confidently, and stop wasting time and money driving across town to grab an item from another truck or purchase it at too-high retail prices.

This, in turn, can boost customer satisfaction, which is essential to your business’s long-term health. Additionally, perpetual inventory leads to highly insightful inventory records that can improve your business’s ability to forecast demand down the road. This, too, can lead to more confident ordering that allows you to continue to meet customer demand without unnecessarily tying up cash on inventory you don’t yet need.

Related: Learn How Sortly Customer Bilo Plumbing & Heating Tracks 10K+ Parts with Sortly

4. Create a standard operating procedure (SOP)

Whether your business implements a perpetual inventory management system to keep track of its plumbing inventory, it’s essential to craft a standard operating procedure. This SOP is an official document articulating precisely how your plumbing business handles its inventory. 

The SOP includes processes for physically organizing stock in warehouses and vehicles and exactly how plumbing inventory lists are maintained in commissaries and on trucks or vans. Additionally, the SOP shares how and when items are reordered, how a business practices perpetual inventory, and how—if the business is not using barcodes and QR codes—it keeps inventory records updated frequently enough to give employees peace of mind. 

5. Perform audits at least annually

Even the best plumbing inventory tracking strategy requires the occasional inventory and asset audit. It’s recommended that plumbing companies review all the items they have on hand at least once a year. Barcode and QR code scanning can make this process much less tedious.

These audits aim to ensure that what’s accounted for on paper (or on a spreadsheet or within a software system) matches what’s physically present on shelves across stockrooms, warehouses, job sites, and vehicles. Any discrepancies should be investigated immediately, particularly for high-value raw materials and equipment.

Once these findings have been reviewed, most plumbing companies take a few days to revise their standard operating procedure to match the newest realities revealed by that audit. This might mean replacing an underperforming vendor, implementing better security of certain items, or reducing the inventory minimums for items that did not move as expected over the previous year.


Plumbing supply inventory list

If you’re not ready to use plumbing inventory software to keep track of your supplies, materials, equipment, and machinery, a plumbing inventory list maintained on a spreadsheet is a good place to start. This template is completely customizable, and if and when you’re ready, you can easily upload it in bulk into Sortly’s inventory software system with a single click.

Free Download: Plumbing Inventory Template

Download our free plumbing inventory template today! The template is pre-populated with common plumbing inventory but is totally customizable–feel free to add your items along with custom details, rows, and columns specific to your plumbing company's inventory. 

About Sortly

Plumbing supply inventory list in Sortly app

Sortly is an inventory management solution that helps you track, manage, and organize your inventory from any device, in any location. We’re an easy-to-use inventory software that’s perfect for large or small businesses. Sortly builds inventory tracking seamlessly into your workday so you can save time and money, satisfy your customers, and help your business succeed.

With Sortly, you can track inventory, supplies, parts, tools, assets like equipment and machinery, and anything else that matters to your business. It comes equipped with smart features like barcoding & QR codinglow stock alertscustomizable foldersdata-rich reporting, and much more. Best of all, you can update inventory right from your smartphone, whether you’re  on the job, in the warehouse, or on the go.

Whether you’re just getting started with inventory management or you’re an expert looking for a more efficient solution, we can transform how your company manages inventory—so you can focus on building your business. That’s why over 15,000 businesses globally trust us as their inventory management solution.

Start your two-week free trial of Sortly today.