50 Caps and 5,000 Bottles: Inventory Management Helps A NY Water Company Keep Its Edge

April 8, 2010

Tech insight & news for small business

New York Spring Water is in a very competitive industry.

It's got the big giants on one hand - Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and others. On the other hand it's got to contend with smaller companies - all vying to sell water (and other beverages) to thirsty NY, regional and national consumers!

As vice president of operations, Luke Zakka ensures that NY Spring water stays competitive, in particular, that its manufacturing operations stay "lean and mean" (and profitable).

With offices in Manhattan and a bottling plant in upstate New York it's important that NY Spring Water know precisely how much inventory it has in stock, compared with how many orders are placed and how much materials it has to make its bottled water and other beverages.

Imagine having 4,000 plastic bottles and only 500 caps!

Luke uses Fishbowl Inventory to ensure that his inventory and entire sales process is running optimally. Since it connects to QuickBooks his orders and payments/cash flow/finance are in order as well.

One of the challenges growing businesses face is ensuring that their sales team, paid invoices, outstanding invoices, pending orders and all sorts of other information is seamlessly integrated and that management has a crystal clear vision into the raw data, but more importantly has intelligence based on the raw data.

Most orders NY Spring Water receives are placed through its web site. Once the order is placed, the information is capture by Fishbowl. The manufacturing plant sees the order and Fishbowl automatically calculates what products are needed to make the order. Meaning, how many bottles, how many labels, tops and hey - how much water is needed., Dell, Netflix and other online retailers are huge multi-billion dollar companies, they succeed or fail by how well they maintain their inventory levels. Small manufacturers are not different, Luke explained. Maintaining proper inventory levels can be the difference between profit or loss.

One of the reasons many growing businesses do not have a positive cash flow is that they have not invoiced their customers and have not been paid for orders fulfilled or they have outstanding orders that are not yet fulfilled. Luke said that this is one of the many challenges that an inventory solution such as Fishbowl helps solve.

There are a lot of inventory solutions NY Water can choose from, in particular specific industry solutions for manufacturers. However, for now Luke believes that his current solution is just fine and fits his needs quite well.

I know many of you reading this insist on using a spreadsheet to manage things. However, Luke advises that letting technology do the hard work of calculating and managing profit margins, cost analysis, what products are moving, what you're ultimately paying per case (or per product) is what computers are best at doing.

Maybe you don't sell bottled water, but you share many of the challenges NY Spring Water faces - real time data to make informed decisions.

Luke is the IT person of his company, like many of you. So his ability to implement technology that can help him do more (save time, save money, boost productivity, increase customer satisfaction, increase productivity, increase revenue) is even more essential.

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