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Multi-profit Centers

Slick software for your lube business

October 11, 2010
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To grow your earnings and manage the return on your investment you must effectively control your inventory and the management of your employees. Losing control of either vital part can result in costly setbacks that ultimately hinder the survival of a fast lube center. Managing both inventory and employees has never been easier with the management software available in today’s marketplace.

Inventory ins and outs
Inventory is more than just the products available for sale, but rather a financial investment waiting for a return. With annual inventory costs hovering around $170,000, inventory control has evolved into an important focus for every fast lube operator. Successfully managing inventory requires the daily attention of every employee from the store owner to the bay technician.

The first step to managing your inventory is ensuring an accurate count of what you have on hand. Management software allows you to print inventory count worksheets or use a handheld device, both of which are great tools when counting the inventory and supplies you have in your shop. These printed or electronic worksheets prove to be a valuable asset as they include every product entered into the system, ensuring you don’t miss a part or supply in the shop.

After taking the count, variance reports act as a security measure. You can compare the accuracy of what you counted with what the system has counted. Once all of the information is accurate you can then use the software to generate your next order. With a good purchase order module you can receive inventory with a single key stroke. This process repeats itself upon entering the new inventory you receive into your management system.

Management software provides instant real time reports such as cost of goods sold (COGS) and current stock status that provide all the detailed information one needs to make educated decisions on purchasing and managing inventory. Along with aiding business decisions, software also provides a means of security with inventory. Various reports allow operators to keep a watch on how their employees are using, adjusting and managing inventory.

Handheld devices
With today’s technology, all of the software features mentioned above can be performed faster than ever with the availability of handheld devices. Using a handheld device saves time as it eliminates the need to go back and forth between your inventory and a stationary computer. Also, the scanning technology of a handheld device eliminates the process of entering information into a system. Scanning inventory barcodes automatically updates inventory counts on your system.

In a recent survey conducted by National Oil & Lube News, 100 percent of fast lube owners with more than 30 stores said they work from an off-site location, while 36 percent of owners with less than 30 stores reported working off-site. With the advancements in technology, it will be common to see the trend of owners taking their work off-site. Everyday, management software becomes more integrated with wireless technology, making life easier on store owners who have multiple locations or travel a far distance to their fast lube site. Easily checking sales figures, monitoring inventory levels, and managing employees are direct benefits from this improving technology.

Managing employees
The same survey went on to reveal that nearly 20 percent of owners believe “quality employees” are a factor that will determine future success in the fast lube industry. Management software has proven to be a key contributor in achieving such success. Tracking basic employee functions such as the employee timesheet has simplified the process of ensuring your employees are working accurate hours. Also, software will ensure your employees are taking proper lunch and break times by tracking the amount of break hours during their shift.

One of the more important impacts software can have on your employees is the ability to manage productivity. Real time reports such as productivity reports not only allow operators to monitor the hours their employees are working, but also track each individual’s productivity during those hours. Monitoring your employees’ commissions as well as their activity by items sold are just a few of the added benefits software can offer to employee management.

Successful management of inventory and employees can make the difference in whether a fast lube is successful or not.


Howie Loewen, Consultant Multi-Store Operations for Integrated Services, Inc. (ISI), of Portland, OR, is considered one of the nation’s most respected fast lube consultants and a nationally renowned expert in inventory management and theft control issues. For more information, contact him at 800-922-3099.

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