See red with this veterinary inventory system


Inventory at your veterinary practice making you angry? Mark Opperman's "red dot and flag" system could make it less of a chore (and more fun for you organization wonks).

Practice owners and practice managers, we know inventory can be a drag. But you can make it suck less with the help of your team and the “red dot and flag” system.

The system helps practices “visualize the shelf life of your inventory so you can make appropriate adjustments,” according to The Art of Veterinary Practice Management by Mark Opperman, CVPM, and Sheila Grosdidier, BS, RVT, PHR.

Red marks the spot!

It starts with red dot stickers (you know, like these). Place the dots on every inventory item and check for the dots after two or three months. If your current process for reordering is working, you should find few to no stickers at the 60-day mark.

Raise the red flag!

You can take this idea further with the red flag method, which is also described in the book. The red flag is a simple card you fill in with reorder information. (For an example, see below or click here. To print it as tag size, turn off page scaling when printing the document.)

Here's how the red flag method works:

> If you reorder a certain product when its remaining inventory is six items, attach the flag to a bundle of six items that your team knows to use last. After the bundle is opened, the flag should be placed in a designated spot you can pick it up when doing inventory.

Information on the flag will tell you how long the product was on the shelf and whether you need to adjust your order amount and frequency. It can also reveal embezzlement or employee/client shrinkage-income received doesn't match inventory costs plus markup or there's a discrepancy with sales data. Unexplained fluctuations in popular items such as parasite prevention and pet food may be attributed to theft or employees forgetting to pay. 

With coordination from your team, the red dot and flag system can make keeping inventory one less headache at your veterinary practice.

(Bonus: If you're already in tune with your inventory schedule and can identify your most popular items, read this success story of a practice that added a retail area for clients.)

To read more about this idea, check out The Art of Veterinary Practice Management.

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